Prayer of IDF soldier saves fellow fighters

Sgt. Maj. Malchiel ben Yosef was the only one to see the terrorist because he had turned towards Jerusalem to pray.

By Israel Today Staff | | Topics: Gaza, Hamas, Faith
Sgt. Major Malchiel ben Yosef appearing on Israel's Channel 14, Feb. 4, 2024. Source: Screenshot.
Sgt. Major Malchiel ben Yosef appearing on Israel's Channel 14, Feb. 4, 2024. Source: Screenshot.

IDF Sgt. Maj. Malchiel ben Yosef saved his comrades from a terrorist who emerged from a tunnel behind them thanks to his turning east towards Jerusalem to pray Minchah, the afternoon service.

The incident occurred about a month and a half ago. Malchiel related to Channel 14 on Sunday how his battalion had fought in Gaza for two and a half months in such places as Gaza City’s Shejaia neighborhood.

They had been given 48 hours for rest and recuperation inside Israel before receiving an order to re-enter Gaza. Malchiel brought up the rear of his 450th Battalion. Fighters ahead had already entered houses ahead of him.

At one point his group halted and he took advantage of the opportunity to pray before the sun set. He turned east towards Jerusalem—the direction of all Jewish prayer—and in the midst of his prayer spied movement.

“I perceive, 10 meters from me, 15 meters from me [30 feet to 50 feet], something like that, metal moving on the ground. I said to myself it’s a cat or some animal,” Malchiel told Channel 14‘s show “The Patriots.”

A moment later, he saw the metal lid of a tunnel, which the battalion hadn’t noticed as it passed, fly open and a terrorist emerge carrying a rocket-propelled grenade. The terrorist moved swiftly westward towards soldiers who had already entered a house.

“I’m south of him, and he doesn’t see me,” Malchiel recalled.

Malchiel, who admits he was in shock, managed to shout at the terrorist, who spun to face him. Malchiel fired at the terrorist, hitting him. In that split second, his friends, who had not spied the terrorist, turned and immediately opened fire as well.

“Thank God, we dropped him before he could fire his RPG,” said Malchiel.

Malchiel also threw a grenade at the tunnel opening to eliminate any additional threats.

He asked himself why he hadn’t prayed earlier that day as he had had other opportunities but was grateful that he didn’t.

Malchiel, an observant Jew, said that before that event he was sometimes joined by other religious soldiers in prayer, but since the incident, non-observant soldiers are eager to pray with him as well, a comment that produced general laughter from the audience.

The 450th Battalion is composed of soldiers from the Negev-based School for Infantry Corps Professions and Squad Commanders (known by its acronym Bislamach), which in peacetime trains the IDF’s Infantry Corps squad commanders and platoon sergeants.

With reporting by JNS.