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Text testimonies To show the Palestinians there's someone ruling over them
catalog number: 404454
Rank: First Sergeant
Unit: Nahal, 50th Battalion
Area: Hebron
period: 2012
categories:
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To show the Palestinians there's someone ruling over them
Rank: First Sergeant
Unit: Nahal, 50th Battalion
Area: Hebron
period: 2012

I remember that before I was drafted it seemed to me that the army was the sexiest thing I could do with my life. Some sort of very good and moral vocation. To defend yourself. Suddenly when you get to the army, to these moments, then these things blow up before your eyes. I thought I was going to do things that I was educated to do in the youth movement, like [promoting] equality and tolerance, and suddenly I get to this place where these things are thrown in the trash. The added complexity is that if I don't carry out these orders, then I'll be punished. And that's something that really hurt me. The truth is that most of my time in Hebron I was suppressing. I thought about how I would go to sleep as early as possible to wake up for the next guarding shift. I began analyzing and processing the implications of the things we did there only after I completed my army service. I don't think I understood. Myself, or my friends, who were very aware of these things – it was very hard for us. There were also others whose hatred of the Arab population actually grew, because all the time we're told that they [the Palestinians] cause all the trouble, and they do the annoying things, they do the bad stuff. We're here because of them, because they’re the troublemakers. We have to protect the Jews. In reality, there are many things that if I were to say them to thinking people, or those who doubt the existing reality, then they will suddenly find themselves in a dissonance, in a very big confusion, because you say: this isn't the justice I came to serve in the army.

Did they talk to you about who you’re supposed to protect on the ground? Whenever we go out on a mission, we're told we're here for the Jews. We looked at every Palestinian citizen as a suspect, always. We had to be alert whether it was at the crossings, in the guard posts, look suspiciously at every one of them. We did a lot of things there that, really, to this day I say, I believe that if I was on the other side, I don't know if could have reacted with such restraint, [in the way that] the Palestinian population reacts to the army or the Jews there.

For example? For example we had to do once a day or two a patrol in the Palestinian neighborhoods, even if they're as quiet as can be, just to give them the feeling that we control them, deterrence. "See, the army's here, don't even dare to cause trouble, we have soldiers stepping on your toes." We would walk around, enter shops, sort of like look to see that everything's OK, continue on walking. Even if nothing problematic was happening. I remember even asking my Platoon Commander why we’re doing what we're doing now. And he says :to demonstrate presence, to show deterrence, to show the Palestinians there's someone ruling over them.