After three weeks inside the Gaza Strip we got to a sort of place where we had a view of a kilometer and a half over a route that’s called the Tancher Route, in military jargon, which is a very, very central route, with two lanes going north-to-south and two lanes going south-to-north – and throughout the duration of the fighting there was an order not to lay a finger on that route. It’s one of the [Gaza] Strip’s central vital passageways; it’s not related to the fighting zone – no shooting at it. We had the feeling this was coming down from the government, even – something very important that can’t be harmed. After three weeks in the tank, we went up to the post and saw this route and a sort of competition got going. “You’re a gunner, let’s see if you’re a real man, let’s see if you manage to hit a moving car.” So I picked a car – a taxi – and tried to fire a shell, but didn’t manage to hit it. Two more cars came by, and I tried with another shell or two, and didn’t hit. The commander said, “OK, enough, you’re using up all my shells, cut it out.” So we moved to a heavy machine gun. We didn’t manage to hit cars after a few times with that, either, until suddenly I saw a cyclist, just happily pedaling along. I said OK, that guy I’m taking down. I calibrated the range, and didn’t hit – it hit a bit ahead of him and then suddenly he starts pedaling like crazy, because he was being shot at, and the whole tank crew is cracking up, “Wow, look how fast he is.” After that I spoke about it with some other gunners and it turns out there was a sort of competition between all sorts of guys, “Let’s see if this gunner hits a car, or if that gunner hits a car.”
Did you consider what happens if there are people inside there? I mean, did that come up in the talk you held within the tank, that they’re civilians? Me personally, deep inside I mean, I was a bit bothered, but after three weeks in Gaza, during which you’re shooting at anything that moves– and also at what isn’t moving, crazy amounts –you aren’t anymore really… The good and the bad get a bit mixed up, and your morals get a bit lost and you sort of lose it, and it also becomes a bit like a computer game, totally cool and real.
*In response to the publication of this testimony, the rightwing pro-occupation organization Ad Kan filed a defamation suit against us, together with two former soldiers who claim to have served in the unit described in the testimony. The defamation suit was filed against Breaking the Silence and a former soldier who the plaintiffs claim gave the testimony. They claim that the testimony is allegedly false and that events unfolded otherwise, and that what took place was legal. When we receive the official documents pertaining to the lawsuit we will publish them here.