What were they shooting at? I got the impression that every house we passed on our way got hit by a shell – and houses farther away too. It was methodical. There was no threat. It’s possible we were being shot at, but I truly wouldn’t have heard it if we were because that whole time the tanks’ Raphael OWS (machine guns operated from within the tanks) were being fired constantly. They were spraying every house with machine gun fire the whole time. And once in a while blasting a shell into each house. There isn’t a single moment that you don’t hear the rumble of the tank next to you, or the next one up.
Was there also artillery cover fire at the same time? Sure, constant shelling. We started hearing it before the entrance [into the Gaza Strip].
When you got near houses, was there resistance? Were you being shot at? I don’t know, it’s possible – but during our walk there was no sign of any face-off or anything. There was a lot of shooting, but only from us. We entered the house when it was already daylight. Half the battalion waited in the courtyard of one of those houses and then they fired a MATADOR (portable anti-tank rocket). See, the battalion commander doesn’t want to go in through the front door, so you open up a way in through the side. There was an outer wall and an inner wall, and he shot a missile, which passed through the outer wall and then through the inner side one. A sweep was conducted in this really large house, which apparently belonged to one really big family. It was four stories high, there was enough room in there for the entire battalion. We would sleep on the floor, and we had made a round of the house to collect pillows and stuff, so there would be what to sleep on. Whoever managed to get hold of a bed, he was set. When we left, I remember the living room was an absolute mess – but I don’t know whether that was intentional or just because when you pass through, you go in with a heavy carrier backpack and you step on stuff. You’re tired after the night, you aren’t going to start worrying about their couches or whatever.
How is the sweeping of a house conducted, when you enter it? We would go in ‘wet’ (using live fire). I could hear the shooting, everything was done ‘wet.’ When we entered this house everything inside it was already a mess. Anything that could shatter had been shattered, because everything had been shot at. Anything made of glass – windows, a glass table, picture frames – it was all wrecked. All the beds were turned over, the rugs, the mattresses. Soldiers would take a rug to sleep on, a mattress, a pillow. There was no water, so youcouldn’t use the toilet. So we would shit in their bathtub. Besides that, the occasional hole you would see in the house that was made by a shell, or ones made as firing posts – instead of shooting from the window, where you would be exposed, you would make a hole in the wall with a five-kilo hammer and that was used as a shooting crenel. Those were our posts. We had a post like that and we manned it in shifts. We were given a bizarre order that every hour we needed to initiate fire from that room.
Toward what? There was a mosque identified [as a hostile target] that we were watching over. This mosque was known to have a tunnel [opening] in it, and they thought that there were Hamas militants or something inside. We didn’t spot any in there – we didn’t detect anything, we didn’t get shot at. Nothing. We were ordered to open fire with our personal weapons in that direction every hour. That was the order.
A few bullets or half a magazine? The order didn’t specify. Each soldier as he saw fit.