Mum of UK-born IDF soldier who stopped terror attack speaks of ‘pride and worry’

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Mum of UK-born IDF soldier who stopped terror attack speaks of ‘pride and worry’

Exclusive: Michal Haroche told Jewish news she had 'not slept a minute' after hearing about the attempted stabbing attack involving her daughter Leanne

Mum and daughter on the left, and Leanne in uniform on the right
Mum and daughter on the left, and Leanne in uniform on the right

The mother of a British-born IDF soldier who fought off a Palestinian attacker this week told of her “pride and worry” after her daughter called her moments after the incident covered in blood.

Michal Haroche told Jewish News how she had “not slept a minute” after hearing about the attempted stabbing attack involving Leanne Haroche, 22, in the West Bank on Tuesday, in an area just south of Nablus.

As Israeli ministers hailed her a “heroine”, Leanne’s Israeli mum Michal, who lives in Borehamwood, said her nerves were shredded, but that while she wanted her head-strong daughter to come home, she was proud of her actions.

“After A-levels she studied special needs teaching at West Herts College and was due to go to university. Then she did Israel Tour, came back and said ‘I’m going to the army.’ I said, ‘what do you mean, you’re supposed to be going to university.’ She said ‘no, the army.’

“I object, give her a hard time, I didn’t want her to do it. We [Michal and her husband] are Israeli, we know what it is to be a soldier. I was obviously scared and worried that she would be in something she didn’t know, was not aware of, but I could see that she insisted. Then I think, ‘you cannot stop her’.”

Leanne made aliyah in August 2019 and after a period of bedding in, with a spell in a kibbutz and a three-month ulpan, she began serving in the IDF in March 2020, which coincided with the start of the first coronavirus lockdown.

“I saw she was happy [in the IDF], but from last night I’m really worried, thinking now ‘why did I let her do it’. I didn’t speak to her much. She called me immediately after it happen, because she knew I would see it on the news.

“She called me with her commander – ‘mum, don’t worry, we had an incident, I’m OK, I can’t speak as we need to do the investigation, but just so you can see me’. The commander said she was in good hands. There was blood on her hands as she’s speaking to me, they were undressing her to see if she’s wounded.”

Michal added: “At that stage I didn’t know it was actually her fighting the terrorist. I just thought she was around an incident. Soon I saw it all on Facebook and WhatsApp, then I realised Leanne fought the terrorist who tried to stab her.

“She was going to her duty to do patrol. She was suspicious of somebody going backward and forward. He was aiming towards her friend, went to him, then decides to turn around and went for her – the soldier. But he didn’t expect her to fight back.”

The attacker made several lunges towards Leanne with a knife but she fought back with being her was shot and immobilised. He later died of his injuries. “I can’t imagine what she went through,” said Michal.

“On one hand I feel worried, on the other hand I feel that she’s a hero, that she saved a life [of the person the man also tried to stab] and her own. I’m proud of her, very proud, her father too.”

Leanne was last back in Borehamwood in November – “she surprised me for my birthday, first time I see her for one year” – but Michal admits that the incident has led to concern. “I’ve not slept, not been able to think of anything else.” She does not know when she will next see her only daughter.

“She has minor injuries but will be OK. I’m a mother, so of course I want her to be here. Of course, I want her to come home, because I’m worried, but on the other hand she makes her own decisions. We will support her 100 percent.”

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