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Israeli soldiers talk about the occupied territories
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“I really, really wanted to shoot her in the knees”

testimony catalog number: 750834
rank: Staff Sergeant
unit: Infantry
area: Northern Gaza strip
period: 2014

There was this mentally handicapped girl in the neighborhood, apparently, and the fact that shots were fired near her feet only made her laugh (earlier in his testimony the soldier described a practice of shooting near people’s feet in order to get them to distance themselves from the forces). She would keep getting closer and it was clear to everyone that she was mentally handicapped, so no one shot at her. No one knew how to deal with this situation. She wandered around the areas of the advance guard company and some other company – I assume she just wanted to return home, I assume she ran away from her parents, I don’t think they would have sent her there. It is possible that she was being taken advantage of – perhaps it was a show, I don’t know. I thought to myself that it was a show, and I admit that I really, really wanted to shoot her in the knees because I was convinced it was one. I was sure she was being sent by Hamas to test our alertness, to test our limits, to figure out how we respond to civilians. Later they also let loose a flock of sheep on us, seven or ten of whom had bombs tied to their bellies from below. I don’t know if I was right or wrong, but I was convinced that this girl was a test. Eventually, enough people fired shots near her feet for her to apparently get the message that ‘OK, maybe I shouldn’t be here,’ and she turned and walked away. The reason this happened is that earlier that day we heard about an old man who went in the direction of a house held by a different force; [the soldiers] didn’t really know what to do so they went up to him. This guy, 70 or 80 years old, turned out to be booby-trapped from head to toe.  From that moment on the protocol was very, very clear: shoot toward the feet. And if they don’t go away, shoot to kill.  

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