The Casbah. Yes, in the Casbah. To go in and sketch houses. In the Shalalas, it was also a thing: Soldier, you walk like a girl. They would yell it all the time at our soldiers, when they were going in. Until I came there and one time, I took off my helmet and went like this with my ponytail, and they were in shock. Because they would always yell: You aren't a soldier, you’re a girl. So then I said to them: I'm a female soldier, what's the problem? And I took off my helmet, and they were in a bit of a shock. I finished them with that, I think. And we went on that patrol and went into the house, and there are houses where their animal pen is inside, it's part of their house.
The bottom part? Yes. No, in their house, it was a separate room, like a storage room which was really, it was kind of a house that was all one storey, and there was one part of the house that stank and there was a very well-sealed door, and it's like a different part of the house, it was the animal pen. There were some chickens, some goats and things like that, inside the house, in their own area. And we came there, and part of the mapping was also opening those rooms. And there was one woman there in the house, some older woman with two kids. I went in with one of the guys in the company that I really couldn't stand. It's a guy whom I tried to get thrown out, and he tried to throw me out, basically all of our service. Really, it was like on an insane level. He also became a commander in the company, and he's a terrible-terrible-terrible person. We went into the house and the door was locked. He opened it – he screamed at that mother to open the door. We went in there, I open the door, and there’s no animals there, and I see a pipe kind of like this from the wall, and I see kids sitting on their knees inside, next to the pipe. And I go in and call out to that shit who was with me, and I say to him: Something weird is going on, there are kids here, come here, come here. He turns on a flashlight, and two kids are tied like this, sitting on their knees, tied up, drooling on themselves, both of them without clothes. I'm looking, like, what is this. And he went mad, he immediately started cutting the ropes. They were [tied] with ropes that you could see hadn’t been tied for just a day or two, it’s a knot that’s been sitting for a while. The kids were both on their knees, and there was a kind of bowl with water next to them. There was some kind of bowl with water, I don't know how they could even reach it. Both their hands, of both of them, were tied to that pipe that came out of the wall. And he quickly cut all the knots from their hands. And then he just left the room and gave the mother such a slap, he planted her on the floor. Really, boom, and he immobilized her, stuck her to the floor, an older woman. And I'm all trying to free the kids, going at it like mad, and I pick up the boy and he can't stand, he falls down. I pick him up again, and he can't stand, the kid falls down. They were two, one bigger, one smaller, and they looked, the bigger one looked about 13 years old and the little one was about six, both naked, both tied up. The little one really looked retarded, even in the way he looked. He looked retarded, he had like these. Then I took an orange, I remember, it was the beginning of winter, I took an orange from my vest and peeled it quickly. I remember that I took out the orange, peeled it, and I gave it to the bigger one. He took it, he just started kind of cutting pieces from it and shoving it into his brother’s mouth. His brother, yes, we found out later. And then, I'm dealing with the kids, I go into the house, and I see that they’re beating the shit out of her and her kids, the soldiers that were with me.
Those kids too? The two kids. No, not those, the other kids in the house. And they’re asking them: Whose are they? Whose are they? And slapping and hitting and kicking them, it was crazy. And then I go in there, like, what are you doing? They abuse two kids, so you abuse another four people? What’s this nonsense? Then I took the mother to a separate room and tried to get her to talk, to find out who they are, what they are. Turns out they were her husband's children from his previous wife, and they decided that they didn't want them, so they tied them up there. We told her to call the father, and she said there was no way to call him, something like that. In the end, when we left there, the statement was that we would come back every day from then on to see that the kids weren't tied up, and she should find what to do with the kids.
You’re social workers now? We became that too, you know, it really was that. Now I, I left there like, on the one hand, that fucked up commander who went with me beat up the old lady and the kids. On the other hand, they tied up children. They tied them up and the children can’t stand, and the children are naked, and the children aren’t eating and you see that they can’t stand up. Their legs were screwed. And we went back the next day and again the father wasn't there and again the kids were tied up in exactly the same way we found them the last time. I guess they didn't believe we would come back. I went back with the same commander, because he was the one who insisted on going back there, it was really the next day. And we just went through the whole market and looked for the father of the children. He took one of the mother’s kids, one of the kids who wasn't tied, and just walked around with him in the market and started looking for his father: Is this your father? Is this your father? Giving the boy all kinds of slaps, things like that, to the boy who was okay, yes, the boy of that mother. He took him into the market, dragged him after him: Is this your father? Is this your father? He took him to the stores, pushing the kid. All the Arabs were in the market. They didn't do anything, they didn't say anything about how he was dragging the boy from store to store and slapping him and stuff. They were just silent, they didn't speak at all. And then we found the father. He found the father. The father ran, that father all of a sudden saw the soldier walking with the boy, so he ran to him. A man about 80 years old, ancient. A really old man. And the wife wasn't so old, I think she was, you know, pushing 50. A real woman. And an old-old-old man running and the boy saying: This is my father, this is my father. They brought him back home. On the way I already said, enough, no, we’re going back to the house. Two of us went with the boy, and we came back two. So I actually returned to the house with someone else, and then he came with the father and we again tried to find out this and that. Let's say it got to the point where the father's head was on the couch and the soldier was stepping on his face so he would say what they were and who those kids were. Like, he was doing what's called a freestyle interrogation.
You were totally out of bounds. Really, it was really strange.
You actually started talking about mapping. Yes, it was really like that. We were really, we went into a place that was really social work, but in a horrifying way. You can't come and decide to do something like that. So we decided we were taking the kids to the police. Taking the kids out of the house and bringing them to the Hebron police in Givat Ha’avot. And the kids, it was really difficult to drag them, they didn’t, we left them there in the end. It was really impossible to take them. We went to the police, we went really quickly to the police. Of course they threatened the father, he was left with some wounds on his face and stuff from our visit. I was already, enough, I'm leaving here if you don't... Now, it's forbidden for me to go around alone when I'm on a patrol, there’s no such thing as leaving the patrol. I said enough and went down, I left the house, yes, to the street of the Casbah. I left, meaning, I’m not prepared to be there anymore. Enough, that's it, it's not for me. And they came out after me just because they can’t let me be there, so everyone came out after me. We went up to Givat Ha’avot, went to the police. They said to us: Listen, it's Palestinians, welfare doesn't deal with them, they aren't citizens of the State of Israel, there is nothing to do. You don't have welfare, you don't have, our police isn't their police. If you want, go and complain to their police. Go, tell them something, let’s see you. The next day we went back again, and the kids weren't tied but they were locked in the same animal pen. Again there was the whole thing, we went, we looked for the father, he wasn't in the house again, but they already knew where to find him. They went, found the father, made a scene in the middle of the road, how dare you tie your children up. Just like that. They found him in some store, stuck him to the wall. I'm telling you, an 80 year old man who, okay, he's fucked up, he's a fucked up guy if he does something like that. But they put him up against the wall there, they yelled, they embarrassed him in public. It probably didn't embarrass him too much, but it embarrassed them, because everyone saw that the soldiers were abusing him and they didn't know what they were saying. We didn't go back any more after that. We didn't return again. We talked about it a lot, I was really worked up about it, but they were like, I remember once asking: Why don't we go back for another round a week later? And then one of the commanders answered me: “We don't know where the house is anymore,” something like that.
Didn’t you map it? Yes, that's it, “we don't know where the house is anymore,” that was his answer. And the other one said: “You heard, there’s nothing to do. Arabs, let them kill each other, let them kill themselves.” The policeman also said, “There is nothing to do. They won't take the kids out of the house, no one is going to take the kids out of the house.” And that was it, I just accepted it, there wasn't much [point] in going to look for them. But I'm telling you, all of this so-called social work, all this violence, it was as if that was what touched a nerve with all of these charming commanders who were with me, like in another second they would kill the guy, they stepped on his face, they beat up his kids, they beat up his wife, it was so important. How come a day later, no one went back there? Like, if it was enough to beat up people for?
Did they enjoy beating the people up? Did they see it as a mission because they’d tied up the kids? Do you get it? It was like they had an excuse to do it, because this time I'm not an asshole who is beating someone for no reason, I'm doing it to save some kid. I think it gave some kind of legitimization, so then it was much more extroverted.
That’s how it was talked about? That wasn't exactly how it was talked about, no one talked about it too much. They talked about what a terrible father, what a terrible mother, what a disgusting family, how could they do something like that, better already that they kill the kids. Statements like that. But no one thought for a second, I stepped on a person's face out of a principle that isn't so important to me, you get it? It was an issue of principle, like to save the kids. And the next day it wasn't so important, so I don't know what that principle says.