What kind of events took place there? What's the fighting routine like?I can describe to you the everyday routine of combat service in very general terms; I wasn't a part of this combat routine. I can talk about my own routine and what it was like for me to be in Gaza. Since my second night there, I think – I was getting the ropes from the officer I was about to replace – during my first night I had a hard time falling asleep because I was constantly startled awake by mortar fire, after all, I originally came from a unit that is not exactly "army" in the strict sense and I didn't realize what that meant. She told me, "You get used to it". So on the second night, I got used to it and even in my quarters, when I kept hearing blasts, I didn't turn my head, it no longer startled me. You do get used to it. It means traveling down to Ashqelon every Sunday morning (after weekend leave), and then getting into some armored bus to cross Kisufim Checkpoint and enter another world which – no matter how much time I'd spend there, a week or two at a time – always seemed like being inside a movie, and every time I'd get out of there I realized it was like living in a movie. Every time I realized I was free to move and can walk around, and people are not wearing ceramic bullet-proof vests… And that I don't get home at 12 noon and there's shooting and the PA system announces we have to enter safe rooms and no one bothers to do that anymore because how much of this can you stand, or go get newspapers in this armored Mercedes they got out of Lebanon or I have no idea where, and looking, driving on a straight paved road and seeing a dangerous winding dirt track on my right and seeing Palestinian children going to school there, riding a donkey and watching me with frightened, hateful eyes, that's what my routine was like. And beyond that, there were all kinds of incidents.
How does such constant routine pressure affect you? How did it affect you personally?The truth is I only confronted it in retrospect, after leaving. Suddenly I realized to what extent I had not been human out there. I read some of the emails I sent my friends, and I have no idea who wrote them. I have no idea how I managed not to shoot myself in the head every morning. We'd stay up – some junior officers of the manpower section, let's say – every night until 3-4 a.m. just to be together, after the soldiers were gone, to vent and cry on each other's' shoulders.
What about? What is the difference between being a "normal human being" and being there?I don't know, it's like a movie with a lot of death around you, an unreasonable reality, with soldiers doing inhuman things to others and to themselves. It means guarding and guarding and guarding and guarding and guarding, and doing irrational things to other people.