JERUSALEM — Shuki Gilboa served as a volunteer on the Kiryat Arba security team and was seriously injured while responding to the terror attack on June 30 in which 13-year-old Hallel Yaffa Ariel was murdered.
“It took time for the IDF to arrive,” Gilboa recounted during an interview with TPS. “Our security team was the first on the scene as we all live close by.”
Gilboa was on the way to meet his wife when he received an urgent notification from the team that a Palestinian was spotted climbing the fence and was inside the settlement.
Gilboa picked up his M16 and ran to the Kiryat Arba Yeshiva High School, which he assumed to be the most likely target of a potential terrorist attack.
After arriving at the school and understanding that it was secure, he began to search the surrounding area in coordination with the rest of the security team. During the search, another member of the security team heard strange noises coming from the Ariel house.
As the security team was about to enter the house, Hallel’s father, Rabbi Amichai Ariel, arrived and entered the house with Shuki and Chanoch Kahane, another member of the team.
Ariel immediately ran to the children’s bedroom where Hallel was sleeping and found his daughter lying in a pool of blood with multiple stab wounds.
Gilboa heard Ariel scream, “They killed her!” and realized that the terrorist was still in the house.
“I realized that the terrorist was still inside,” Gilboa told TPS. “I turned to report it on the radio when I noticed a black image out of the corner of my eye.”
The “black image” was in fact the terrorist hiding in Hallel’s bedroom who then attacked Gilboa.
Chanoch Kahane then ran into the room and fired two shots at the terrorist, the first of which hit the terrorist in the back and the second entered Gilboa’s head above his ear and exited through his right eye.
Gilboa remained fully conscious and was evacuated to Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital in Jerusalem, where doctors worked feverishly to save his eye but to no avail. Gilboa lost all sight in his right eye and will have to use a prosthesis for the rest of his life.
Gilboa was amazed to receive support from people of all walks of life after suffering the injury.
“The support I received was incredible,” he said. “So many people came to visit me, people whom I did not even know.”
“The commander of IDF central command visited, along with three government ministers,” he continued. “People who do not even live in Israel, people who just happened to be in Israel at the time, visited me in the hospital.”
Gilboa, who served in the elite IDF Sayeret Matkal unit and has trained community security teams since his army service, emphasized the crucial importance of the communal security team
“Today, the citizens are the ones who engage the terrorists,” he stressed. “We are the first line of defense and we are the first to respond 90% of the time.”
“The fact that we do not have quality equipment or training is a very serious issue,” he added. “We are the first on the scene yet we have extremely shoddy gear and almost never train.”
Gilboa’s wife, Shlomit, is an operating room medic at Shaare Zedek Hospital in Jerusalem, which Gilboa says is a great help since she understands all the medical terminology, but he admits that the rehabilitation process is difficult.
“I have been in a lot of pain and there are new things I have to get used to,” he said. “It can mean sleepless nights and it isn’t easy.”
— Tzvi Lev, TPS