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Text testimonies The artillery is constantly firing
catalog number: 180632
Rank: Lieutenant
Unit: Infantry
Area: Northern Gaza strip
period: 2014
categories:
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The artillery is constantly firing
Rank: Lieutenant
Unit: Infantry
Area: Northern Gaza strip
period: 2014

The artillery is constantly firing. It’s called ‘retaining tension’ – that is, keeping [Hamas] unsure about when exactly we will be going in – so that they are constantly thinking that we might be about to go in. It’s called ‘softening targets,’ and it’s done also to clear a range for advancing. What this means in practice is, that shells are being fired all the time. Even if we aren’t actually going to enter: shells, shells, shells. A suspicious structure, an open area, a field, a place where a tunnel shaft could be – fire, fire, fire. There was a period of about five days from the moment when we were first called in for duty until there was a ground incursion. Throughout that entire time, fire. The idea behind the action being – both during the fighting and after it – that from the moment you incriminate a building – incriminate meaning that you saw some movement there, even the smallest – a terrorist going in, maybe – those aresufficient grounds to take it down.

The entire building? Yes. At the beginning [of the operation] they were really careful, they tried to do this with combat choppers, or guided missiles or all kinds of special forces. But the deeper we got into the operation, and the more the patience and understanding given to you by the levels of oversight – and by the Israeli public at large – slowly runs out, then it becomes OK to use artillery.“You don’t need a chopper, let’s use artillery on it, let’s bring it down, no problem with that.” It’s statistical – it has a 50 meter radius. In the end, that’s one of the problems, too – [mortars are] a statistical weapon (an imprecise weapon thatcannot be aimed at specific targets, but rather at general areas), and people don’t get that. There is this conception that we know how to do everything super accurately, as if it doesn’t matter which weapon is being used – “OK, let them fire, they’re OK.” But no, these weapons are statistical, and they strike 50 meters to the right or 100 meters to the left, and it’s… It’s unpleasant. What happens is, for seven straight days it’s non-stop bombardment, that’s what happens in practice. Now, there are degrees of applying fire – in the first degree, you can fire up to a certain distance away from civilians, or from a place where civilians are believed to be. In the second degree, you narrow that down. And there’s a third degree. Let’s say, [when the third level is imposed] the instructions for jets and combat choppers allow for ‘reasonable damage to civilians or to their surroundings.’ That is to say, something indefinable, that’s up to the brigade commander and whatever mood he happens to be in: “Let’s decide ourselves what’s reasonable and what isn’t.”