The time a different kind of ‘Ironman’ superhero saved the day

Updated onApr 26, 2023
3 minute read
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A hundred years before the American Revolution, a portion of the Rockaway Peninsula in New York was purchased by Richard Cornell, an ironmaster; he owned a blast furnace and processed…

A hundred years before the American Revolution, a portion of the Rockaway Peninsula in New York was purchased by Richard Cornell, an ironmaster; he owned a blast furnace and processed iron ore. It seems fitting that this was also the home of David Stern in this century, a former U.S. Marine who immigrated to Israel. In those parts, he is known as the “Iron Man” by friends, and no wonder; his recent ferocious fight with a terrorist threatening his family has sent him into legend.

A man is nothing if he won’t defend his family. 

David Stern knows this, and now so does the terrorist. Made of “sterner stuff,” the husband and father, a resident of Itamar, Israel, was driving with his wife near Huwara in late March 2023, when a terrorist fired dozens of rounds at their car. Hit in the head and arm, Stern had the presence of mind to not only fire back and wound the would-be killer; he also made a tourniquet for his bleeding arm. 

That saved his life. 

The couple were on their way to a class at Jerusalem’s Machon Shilo Center. When he got to the hospital, Stern had to be intubated, but he regained consciousness the next day at Rabin Medical Center. 

In 2012, Stern gave an interview in which he discussed the horrific murders of the Fogel family, also of Itamar, by terrorists who killed their children in cold blood after breaching the community’s defensive perimeter a year before. Stern’s experience in learning martial arts in Japan during his Marine stint helps him empathize with Ultra-Orthodox youth in his community.

“When children feel disconnected, this is a way to help them feel connected. It’s a way of life, a system that instills values and more than anything, it enables them to gain self-respect. These are children who feel that they have failed in life.”

After the attack on the Sterns, Samaria Regional Council head Yossi Dagan said this about Stern:

“This resident is a true Jewish hero, the glory of the settlement in Samaria, who protected his wife with his own body; a martial arts man, a security man and an educator. While the armed terrorist was shooting at him on the main road and he was wounded in the head by the gunshot, he pulled out his weapon and fired back. With his resourcefulness, he saved his life and that of his wife.” A bullet glanced off the back of Stern’s skull, in addition to the arm wound, which did extensive damage.

For decades, Israeli communities have been guarded by their citizens, and of course by the standing army. The Israel Defense Forces is more than one-million strong, with the reserves in the mix as well. Men serve a four-year hitch, while women serve three. After active duty, they are in the reserves until the age of 55. Stern is involved in the ongoing training and security apparatus.

Stern recovering in the hospital. (Twitter)

His own training techniques came in handy during the attack.

The attacker, identified as 28-year-old Leith Nassr, was seriously wounded in the exchange with Stern, and was arrested by security forces. The terrorist fired at the vehicle at point-blank range using an improvised Carlo submachine gun — a homemade weapon modeled after the Swedish-made Carl Gustav m/45.

Stern had been prepared for moments like this his whole life. At seven, he was training in three different levels of martial arts. 

While in Japan, he was deep in training with a Ninjutsu master. He earned a 5th Dan black belt. He also later helped train Marines in the unique Israeli martial arts program Krav Maga

The community of Itamar is near the Palestinian town of Nablus, the site of many terrorist activities in recent years. The community is safer because of David Stern.