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Text testimonies “Columns of smoke everywhere, the neighborhood in pieces”
catalog number: 878173
Rank: First Sergeant
Unit: Armored Corps
Area: Deir al-Balah area
period: 2014
categories:
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“Columns of smoke everywhere, the neighborhood in pieces”
Rank: First Sergeant
Unit: Armored Corps
Area: Deir al-Balah area
period: 2014

There was one afternoon that the company commander gathered us all together, and we were told that we were about to go on an offensive operation, to ‘provoke’ the neighborhood that dominated us, which was al-Bureij. It dominated us in terms of altitude, people, view. When I say to ‘provoke,’ I mean we shoot a bit, blow up a few things, show them that we’re in there –and maybe that will draw the terrorists out to respond and then we can hit them. Because up until then, we hadn’t really had any real engagement with them. The way the offensive took place was, when it started getting dark my tank led the way, we were in a sort of convoy, and there was this little house. And then suddenly we see an entire neighborhood opening up before us, lots of houses, it’s all crowded and the moment we got to that little house, the order came to attack. Each [tank] aimed at whichever direction it chose, and then we fired a whole lot at the little house with machine guns and also one shell to make sure there was no threat inside. And suddenly I see the whole neighborhood in front of me, and then there’s stress, and confusion over the radio, and the commander was really improvising, and suddenly he tells me: “You see that house? Fire there.” Boom, I shoot. “Go, driver, go forward,” and the driver goes a bit forward and we get to a sort of alley. “You see the house on the left? Fire at it.” Boom, we fired, and we were just, like, purposelessly firing. There was no intelligence on this or that house – it was just my platoon commander and myself deciding to fire at it because you have to fire, you have to ‘provoke.’ It could well be that people were killed inside, but there really wasn’t any intelligence on those specific buildings. And that’s how it went on. “You see that house in front of you? Shoot.” He also asked me, “What can you fire at? Whatever you can physically see, fire at it.” Like, “Feel free.” And that’s how it was, really – every tank just firing wherever it wanted to. And during the offensive, no one shot at us – not before it, not during it, and not after it. I remember that when we started withdrawing with the tanks, I looked toward the neighborhood, and I could simply see an entire neighborhood up in flames, like in the movies. Columns of smoke everywhere, the neighborhood in pieces, houses on the ground, and like, people were living there, but nobody had fired at us yet. We were firing purposelessly.