The Deer Hunter

Deer hunting is a sport. Some say it is a very enjoyable one, and is considered an individual activity. Only you, the rifle and the victim. You go out into the woods, walk in meadows or climb through trees, cross springs, go through thicket dressed in a shining coat, so that other hunters will not mistake you to a deer and shoot you. You are ready. The rifle is ready, loaded and locked. And you are focused on the mission: To kill a deer. You are panting. There is tension in the air. You can cut it with a knife. But the tension is not because of uncertainty or the unknown. There is no uncertainty here and everything is known. The only question is whether you are going to hit a deer or miss it. After all, the deer cannot shoot back.

The main reason why a firing squad is made of several participants is not because of uncertainty or because of the unknown. There is no uncertainty here and everything is known. After all, the victim cannot shoot back. The reason is that the shooters are not supposed to know which of them fired the deadly shot that killed the victim, or at least it allows each of them to return home safely riding the benefit of the doubt. But the pilot who erased the home of the Abu Al-‘Uf family from the face of the earth on its occupants, or the home of each of the other fifteen families wiped out by the bombings of the Israeli Air Force in Gaza thus far, was not part of a firing squad. He was a hunter. Only he, the sophisticated war machine he flies and the target, a family’s home. Only he pulled the trigger or touched the pad, and only he released the missile or the bomb that executed an entire family. Only unlike a deer that can escape an approaching hunter, his victims were unable to escape. This pilot is a firing squad made of one hunter.

But unlike the firing squad participants, the pilot who wiped out an entire family by pulling the trigger cannot enjoy the benefit of the doubt. There is no doubt here. He’s the hunter. He is the killer. He is the one who shot, he is the one who killed, he is the one who destroyed. When he gets out of the cockpit he knows he is the one who made the shot. When he goes through debriefing he knows it’s he who killed. When he gets home he knows it’s him who destroyed. When he sits down to the dinner table with his family he knows it was he who wiped out an entire family. When he brushes his teeth before bed he knows that the one who looks at him from the mirror is a firing squad of one hunter. And when he goes to bed he has a hard time falling asleep because he knows, deep inside, that he is not really such a great hero, but rather a war criminal.

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