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Bennett’s shrapnel-saddled pal found

Yoav Mordechai’s posterior became a symbol of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict

Gavriel Fiske is a reporter at The Times of Israel

Shrapnel (illustrative photo: Mendy Hechtman/Flash90)
Shrapnel (illustrative photo: Mendy Hechtman/Flash90)

Economics Minister Naftali Bennett made political waves on Monday by stating that, just like “Yoav,” a wounded friend of his who had to live with “shrapnel in the rear end,” Israel must learn to accept that the idea of a Palestinian state is a non-starter.

Now, Maariv has apparently gotten to the bottom of Bennett’s parable. Col. Yoav Mordechai, who at one time served with Bennett in the elite commando unit Sayeret Matkal, was severely wounded in 1996, and an acquaintance says he’s the friend who still carries shrapnel in his rear end, the paper reported on Wednesday.

Not to be confused with the IDF spokesperson of the same name, Mordechai, who was described as a close friend of Bennett, was serving as a company commander in the Golani Brigade when his unit was ambushed by Hezbollah during a 1996 patrol in southern Lebanon. Four soldiers died in the incident, and Mordechai received the aforementioned shrapnel.

“Yoav was hospitalized for a very long time and was able to recover with great effort,” a friend was quoted as saying, adding that Mordechai prefers to avoid the limelight and therefore hasn’t responded to Bennett’s analogy.

In his Monday speech at a Yesha Council meeting, Bennett suggested that the conflict with the Palestinians was analogous to bomb fragments that could not be dislodged from the body; a two-state solution would permanently hobble the country, making Israel’s proposed annexation of much of the West Bank the lesser of two evils, he indicated.

“I have a friend who’s got shrapnel in his rear end, and he’s been told that it can be removed surgically but it would leave him disabled,” said Bennett. “So he decided to live with it. There are situations where insisting on perfection can lead to more trouble than it’s worth.”

The economics minister’s statements elicited condemnation from opposition and coalition members alike, and his position on annexation contradicts statements made by Prime Minster Benjamin Netanyahu in support of a demilitarized Palestinian state.

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