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Text testimonies The only thing left standing was one wobbly house
catalog number: 713875
Rank: First Sergeant
Unit: Infantry
Area: Northern Gaza strip
period: 2014
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The only thing left standing was one wobbly house
Rank: First Sergeant
Unit: Infantry
Area: Northern Gaza strip
period: 2014

There were lots of discussions on ethics before we entered [the Gaza Strip]: what we can do, what we can’t do. When we enter a house, can we sleep on the beds? Should we sleep on the floor? But when I’m actually going into combat, whether or not it’s OK to sleep on their bed is the last thing I’m worried about. What’s sleeping on their bed compared to my life? Some people did voice concerns. When we left the first house [we had taken over], we slogged away cleaning it for about three hours because there was some claim that we shouldn’t let it be detected that we had been in there – and also because of the moral aspect – that we need to try and return the house to its former state, as much as possible. When we left [the Gaza Strip], most of the houses we had stayed in were blown up, so it’s kind of funny… But the way we treated all the following houses was different. It becomes clear that you don’t have it in you to deal with this – not emotionally, not physically. You don’t have the patience to keep a house clean. It was a dilemma, when we entered houses. There’s one image that’s burned into my memory. There was a house that we entered, which we stayed in for a very long time – we had taken to sitting on the couches – and if the floor got wet we tore off a piece of mattress to wipe it up with. In the end, one thing that was very dangerous was the illnesses. We used whatever we had around in the house. At a certain point you have to go to the bathroom.

Did you use the bathrooms in the houses? Yes. You use a plastic bag and then throw it out. But when you wake up in the middle of the night you’re a little more disrespectful – when it comes down to it, it’s a difficult situation emotionally, and you don’t have the emotional energy – especially when it comes to your most basic needs: peeing, shitting, and eating. So sometimes you find yourself peeing in a toilet that you know is getting flooded, and whoever comes back to that house will have a very hard time getting the place back to the way it was.You said earlier that the houses you stayed in got blown up afterward. 

Yes. After we left I heard a boom. I looked back and I saw an air bombardment, and they told us, “Yeah, there’s going to be a ceasefire, so we want to have ‘the final word’ before we leave.”

Who told you that? 

All kinds of lectures from our commander. I saw it with my own eyes, it was a kilometer away. It’s hard not to notice a half-ton bomb getting dropped on a house. And after that three more bombs, and then five more, and then another 20. It was impossible to sleep, really. At a certain point there was this crazy thing, the only thing left standing was one wobbly house. This was three weeks, two weeks in. Two weeks in, the reaction that this got was a cynical one, and it really couldn’t have led to any other kind of reaction.

What do you mean by 'a cynical reaction'? 

“Aww shoot, look, now they’re blowing everything up, damn, why didn’t we allow ourselves to use that couch, it looked so comfortable.” ,