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Israeli soldiers talk about the occupied territories
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“What the hell, why did you have to shoot him again?”

testimony catalog number: 182607
rank: Staff Sergeant
unit: Infantry
area: Northern Gaza strip
period: 2014

We were in a house with the reconnaissance platoon, and there was some soldier stationed at the guard post. We were instructed [during the briefings] that whoever’s in the area is dangerous, is suspect. Especially if it’s a vehicle – in that case you really pound it with bullets, everybody stationed in the posts. [There was one case where] a soldier who was in one of the posts saw an old [Palestinian] man approaching, so he shouted that some old man was getting near. He didn’t shoot at him – he fired near him. What I know, because I checked this, is that one of the other soldiers shot that grandpa twice. A big hoopla got going, everyone got their gear quick and wanted to go outside because, like they say in the IDF, ‘strive for engagement.’ I went up to a window to see what was going on out there, and I saw there was an old man lying on the ground, he was shot in his leg and he was wounded. It was horrible, the wound was horrible, and he looked either dead or unconscious to me. So we went down and told that entire force – these guys were all truly twisted – “Enough, there’s no reason to shoot him, get a grip, he’s dead.” And so an argument starts up [between the soldiers]: “What makes you an expert on death? What are you, some doctor?” And then after that, some guy from the company went out and shot that man again, and that, for me, was the last straw. I don’t think there was a single guy in my platoon who wasn’t shocked by that. It’s not like we’re a bunch of leftists, but – why? Like, what the hell, why did you have to shoot him again? One of the problems in this story is that there was no inquiry into it, at least none that I know of. Not a word was spoken to us about it later on – nobody told us how we were expected to behave. So we hashed out our own conclusions – that the first two bullets were justified because if he had an IED on him, then what?

What was it for, really?
Dead checking. I don’t buy it. You leave [the Gaza Strip] and the most obvious question is, ‘did you kill anybody?’ What can you do – even if you’ll meet the most left-wing girl in the world, eventually she’ll start thinking, “Did you ever kill somebody, or not?” And what can you do about it, most people in our society consider that to be a badge of honor. So everybody wants to come out of there with that feeling of satisfaction. That’s what shocked me the most. We have guys in our company walking around with X’s marked on their straps, it’s a sort of culture. Maybe it sounds to you like I’m exaggerating, but… I’d like for this whole thing of X marks – even if it’s somebody who just saved an entire Israeli family – to be forbidden. Because when it comes down to it, when we don’t need to use fire, then people – even if they are very good people – something in their mind just jerks. 

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