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Text testimonies Just shooting out of fear
catalog number: 422558
Unit: Reserves
Area: Northern Gaza strip
period: 2003
categories:
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Just shooting out of fear

In 2003, our patrol company was carrying out operations at a post called Magen 12, right next to Erez Checkpoint. The goal of the operation was to secure the area around Erez Checkpoint and to patrol along the fence between the northern neighborhoods of Gaza and the [Israeli] settlements – Nissanit and I think also Dugit. In those operations, I served as the patrol NCO, in a jeep that patrolled the length of the fence, mostly checking the route and providing an immediate response if needed. Before we got there and started operations, we did training at Ze'elim and I went to the post with the staff, the company commander and a few other NCOs to be briefed by the previous company, before our company arrived.

Whom did you replace? Another company of reservists. I’ll never forget that when we got there, they gave us a tour at the lookout points inside the post itself and they took us to a lookout point on a road that’s on the Tancher route, the main route that cuts through Gaza from north to south. It’s a point that looks out over the route that leads to Erez Checkpoint. It was at the height of the intifada, armored and infantry forces were going in and out of Gaza freely. The lookout point was covered with curtains, so that snipers wouldn’t see. I looked out and saw Schindler’s list, that’s the first thing that popped into my head. Terrible destruction, the road was torn up from the tank and APC chains. People moving around on foot only, with bags, walking back and forth. Filled with concrete blocks from checkpoints to make the cars drive in zigzags. Buildings around ruined, everything gray, no color, almost everything in black and white. It shocked me. At night, I woke up and heard loud explosions. I don’t know what it was, explosive charges or the army blowing things up, but every few minute there was an explosion, and sounds of shooting all the time. I realized that I was in a very dangerous place… Later, I found out I was right. The operations began, a lot of shifts patrolling the fence, guard duty. And then several things happened. One weekend, I was on leave, and that saved my life. On June 8th, on the night between Saturday and Sunday morning, three terrorists came to the post and managed to get inside. They reached the entry to the post. Outside was a guy from the Ordnance Corps, they killed him, killed the two guys who were at the sentry post, and then an exchange of fire began inside the post, between the soldiers and the three terrorists. During that shootout, another soldier was killed, a guy I knew well. Other soldiers were injured. Eventually, they managed to kill the terrorists. It was in the papers on Sunday morning. They called me to come back to the post quickly. Everything was in terrible chaos there. The injured soldiers had been taken to hospitals, the bodies had been taken away. Trauma. I went back to the post, the mission continues. The soldiers and commanders were hysterical, they were afraid of another infiltration and wanted to prove that everything was okay. There was this procedure that, when it’s dark, you rain down fire from the post, shoot blindly, just shoot down to the area under the post. Just shooting out of fear. The company commander, who was from the settlement of Atzmona, which was not far from there, positioned people along the southern or western side of the post and gave the order to open fire with light arms. As a patrol NCO, I patrolled along the fence with my team. It borders on [the Palestinian town of] Beit Hanoun, and kids hang around there. Between the fence and the houses there are sand dunes, vegetation, a real nature reserve. The kids move around, close to the fence, far from the fence. The order I got was to shoot, as the NCO in charge, whenever the kids got up to 50-60 meters [from the fence]. First report and then take a safe distance and shoot close to them, to warn them not to get any closer. The claim was that the kids were sent to test our alertness, to gather intelligence. I’m glad I was given that order, because I made sure to take a safe distance and not get close. At that point, I was already a father. It was daylight, you could see it was children. At the same time, soldiers were leaving for funerals and condolence visits and the mood was really bad. We knew some of those who were killed well, we’d done reserve duty with them for many years. Some of them we didn’t know, but the mood was really bad. Two years later, they evacuated everything in the disengagement (Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza), they evacuated Nissanit and Dugit. It felt really bad. Goddamit, what for?

What did they die for? Yeah. Two years later. Exactly two years later.