Lt. Maya witnessed yesterday’s terror attack – and acted fast to end it.
Yesterday afternoon, a terrorist from East Jerusalem carried out a deadly vehicle ramming attack in the Armon Hanatziv area of Jerusalem, where cadets in the IDF’s Officers Training School were taking a field trip. The terrorist plowed his truck into a group on the promenade, killing four IDF soldiers and wounding 17 others.
Lt. Maya, 22, of Haifa, is the team commander of the company of cadets who were targeted in the attack. “I got on the bus to put away some gear and get my jacket, and I was standing right at the front of the bus, and from there I saw everything. The attacker drove at a very, very high speed, and drove into a big crowd of cadets who were standing shoulder-to-shoulder.”
As Lt. Maya watched the attack unfold, she knew that she had to do everything in her power to stop it. As an officer, it’s her duty to protect her soldiers, and as a soldier herself, it’s her job to save lives. That meant taking charge in the moment. “I felt like I had to take responsibility. They’re my soldiers, they’re my company, and as part of that sense of responsibility, I knew I had to handle it.”
“I knew that it was a terror attack when he started to reverse,” Lt. Maya says. “But even before that, when he drove into the crowd, I already put my magazine into my gun. When he reversed, I knew. I heard gunshots from our side, one or two bullets. I stood at the entrance of the bus, and I shot at the window of the truck, on the driver’s side. I had help from soldiers on the other side, who were handling it with a cool head.” In seconds, it was over. Once the terrorist was neutralized, she and her fellow soldiers tended to the wounded.
She says that if she weren’t there, she knows that her fellow soldiers would have done exactly what she did to prevent more people from getting hurt. “It wasn’t just me that handled it, and if I wasn’t there, there were a lot of other people with me who could have done it. People were helping and acting from other directions and I wasn’t alone in it for a second, I really wasn’t.”
The next day, Lt. Maya and her fellow officers returned to work. There’s a palpable sense of grief in the company, but the commanders and soldiers are overcoming it by sharing their trauma and loss. Even though it’s hard to press on, knowing that they have each other for support helps mitigate the pain. Returning felt like a duty, even for the soldiers who were wounded in the attack.
“I spoke to my soldiers who were injured,” says Lt. Maya. “They’re all in stable condition, and they all want to return to the course when they recover. When the commanders visited, the first thing the wounded cadets asked was ‘can I complete the course?’ It’s really important to them. What they’ve gone through is really hard, but they really want to come back.”