"No one can judge her until they're in her place or situation," one Caracal combat soldier told Ynet. Southern Command is continuing to investigate the circumstances surrounding the incident.
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Israel Radio reported Monday that while another female combat soldier – Corporal S. killed one of the terrorists who were coming from across the border in Sinai and who had killed Corporal Netanel Yahalomi, another soldier who was sitting in a patrol jeep hid behind a tire and did not return fire or attack the oncoming terrorists.
S. the sniper who took out a terrorist in the attack
She then ran to a bush and hid behind it for an hour and a half, while the military became concerned over the possibility that she had been kidnapped.
According to the soldier's version of events, she was afraid that she would be kidnapped by the terrorists or that she would accidentally shoot the IDF artillery troops who were in her line if fire, so she preferred to take cover.
A member of her battalion told Ynet: "Everyone is always smart after the fact. If not for the fact that she was in the patrol jeep and was able to report the terrorist fire to the sector's operations room, we would be in a very different place right now."
An initial investigation revealed that the soldier did in fact declare the correct procedure over the radio link and even reported the attack to the company command post, yet she also hid behind a bush on the side of the road and was only found later on, exhausted and in an emotional state.
"Even if she feared for her life and preferred at a certain point to find shelter instead of attacking without any covering fire, this says nothing about her conduct," one Caracal soldier noted.
"There were similar and even worse cases in the IDF's history where combat soldiers from elite and reconnaissance units froze when coming under fire. In this case, her swift response in reporting the incident influenced the final outcome and we should wait until the final inquiry findings are declared.
Israel Radio presented the soldier's version of events in which she claims that she was speaking to her mother on the phone at the time. "I tell my mother 'shots fired! Shots fired! And immediately reported it on the communications radio.
"Then I scanned the area and thought the shots were coming from the direction of the artillery units. Maybe they identified something. So I didn't immediately return fire. After a few seconds I heard…terrorists firing and aiming the weapons at me when I'm 70 meters away and exposed. It was a miracle I wasn't hurt."
"S, another soldier and the regimental operations room claim they heard me scream," said the soldier, "I guess I saw the terrorist, screamed and immediately got off the hummer to take shelter behind the rear tire.
"I loaded my weapon and tried to get back to the radio to report. While I was trying to get to the radio which was on the other side, I once again heard shots in my direction. I take cover behind the tire again and realize I'm alone. I have no covering fire, no one to charge with, I'm looking around at all the artillery troops who don't know my position and understand that the minute I open fire they might respond with fire."
IDF Spokesman Brigadier General Yoav Mordechai said "this is an exemplary soldier who conducted the incident and gave an initial report, removed herself from the vehicle and found a spot to wait. She was not required to charge forward as she was not at the point of contact."
An official IDF response noted that: "In light of the fact the incident is being investigated by the commanding officers, we will not address sections of the incident report that were published in one form or another.
"These sections do not reflect the incident in its entirety and are unjust to the soldiers who took part in the incident. When the investigation is completed, the necessary conclusions will be drawn."
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