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Text testimonies “You fire shells at the houses and spray bullets at the orchard”
catalog number: 868128
Rank: First Sergeant
Unit: Infantry
Area: Northern Gaza strip
period: 2014
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“You fire shells at the houses and spray bullets at the orchard”
Rank: First Sergeant
Unit: Infantry
Area: Northern Gaza strip
period: 2014

We reached the first line of houses and the platoon commander ‘cleared up’ a few key spaces with grenades. You never ‘open’ houses ‘dry’ (without live fire) – you throw a grenade [before you enter]. It busts the walls, brings down plaster and paint. At some point you take over the house. Only a few minutes after we would finish taking over the houses, the area was ‘sterilized,’ a sweep was conducted, one made sure there was no terrorist with an anti-tank missile… Then tanks and D9s (armored bulldozers) come over at the same time. It was one of the most beautiful orchards I’d ever seen – it looked just like an old-style Moshav (a type of rural town), and within a few hours it was totally erased – reduced to piles of powdered sand. Tanks drove over it and broke up the ground, smashing it to smithereens. ֿ Was [the orchard] ruined on purpose, or because heavy equipment was moving through? It simply was not taken into consideration. It’s not like they said, “Hey, there’s an orchard here.” You don’t think in those terms. No one was told to destroy the orchard – it’s simply that the earth was pushed up; it was needed for a rampart. It’s not as if they were trying to consider the Society for the Protection of Nature or the JNF (Jewish National Fund) in worrying about the trees and the animals. The area was needed for a specific reason? Right, and so it was used. [Inside the house] what we do is use a hammer to break the tiles for the sandbags. One of the soldiers said he wasn’t willing to do that because we could bring in sand from outside. They told him he couldn’t do that, and there was some arguing about it. We broke tiles in a corner of the house, in a place where we wouldn’t be sitting. We put sandbags and camouflage nets in the windows, so that when you guard there you’re protected, so that only a very small part of you is visible. The next night they told us, “We’re switching houses.” You take over another house, and the same procedure all over again, sandbags and so forth. When we went to take over [the next house], there was an orchard on the way. And crossing that is scary, you don’t know what’s in there. There was this crazy part when tanks were firing shells non-stop, and then all at once spraying machine gun fire into the entire orchard. You fire shells at the houses and spray bullets [at the orchard]. Eight, 10minutes like that, and then they say, “OK, you can start going through now.” There are people whose job it is to strategically analyze what constitutes a threat, and there are lookout posts. If movement is detected, the house is blown up. If you detect movement inside a house that’s in an area where combat has been taking place for more than two days, it’s pretty clear that they didn’t just drop by to make some coffee. You see a man smoking a cigarette in a window, are you supposed to shoot him? You’re asking questions only a civilian would ask. [That doesn’t happen].