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Text testimonies You saw the pain in her eyes
catalog number: 89282
Rank: First Sergeant
Unit: Nahal Brigade
Area: Hebron
period: 2003 - 2006
categories:
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You saw the pain in her eyes
Rank: First Sergeant
Unit: Nahal Brigade
Area: Hebron
period: 2003 - 2006

Inside the Abu Sneina Casbah there's this one alley, just before the Pharmacy junction, an alley going in… When you come from Mitkanim, there's this junction, one road going to the left and out.

"Fainting Spell"road?No, before "Fainting Spell" road, there's an alley, right in between these two walls.

A kind of large gate?Yes, stone gate.

That leads nowhere.No, an alley more to the side. Opposite the schoolhouse, opposite the playground.

But it's blocked with some barbed wire coil or something?No, back then when we were there it wasn't, or I'm not getting the description right. Every time we would go in there we'd cock our weapons so of course anyone out in the street at the time would go "AAA!" and run indoors. Beyond that fact, it's something that usually scares the Palestinians. We entered that alley once, we were walking and got to one of the alleys and there was something that always used to happen right there: Every time we passed by there a bottle was thrown at us from one of the windows. Now we knew which kids did it, and we knew exactly why they were doing it, and I think for them it was just a game, for if they had wanted to really throw something serious at us they would have. These are alleys where you really can't watch yourself. There was nowhere we could run to. Once we really saw one of the kids, we saw him with the bottle and we actually saw him throwing. I don't recall who that was, one of the guys called out to him, we took him to his parents and said, "He's throwing bottles at us. Could you stop this?" And right there and then, before we even finished talking, this kid's mother started beating him up, and you saw the pain in her eyes. You saw her hitting him to please the soldiers. Hitting him really hard. When she was through with this show, she promised us, "Don't worry, when his father comes home he'll see to him". So besides feeling ashamed and leaving followed by the look of that kid as he watched us go out – besides that, there was nothing we could do. This was already the catastrophe we had triggered in the family which for me is simply terrible, and for them, unfortunately, it's a routine matter. That look, I mean it followed me for several nights.

Why that in particular?Why that? Because it wasn't me doing the hitting, but I have no doubt it was because of me. I mean, when we arrived in Hebron we knew exactly how charged that place is that we are getting into, not like the national-religious soldiers at the disengagement from Gaza. Whoever refused to go in would be jailed, so no one did. Some guys said: I can't do patrols, so he took it upon himself to do more static guard shifts than others who would replace him on patrols. I mean, he actually took on a crazy number of guard shifts so as not to go on patrols. Because he simply said: I cannot deal with this population. I'll guard the post, I'll stand inside the position, and if anything happens, so be it, but I'll be standing here. And we accepted that. We did and we knew that somehow we all wanted to do exactly the same, or at least I knew I wanted to do just that, but somehow I thought: If I don't do it, who will? And I promised myself that just as *** took it upon himself to do extra guard duty shifts and deal with the mental stress of that, I'll take upon myself the responsibility so that on my shift this stuff won't happen. I'll look to it that while I'm on patrol there won't be such incidents. And here I found myself exactly in the sort of situation, perhaps not specifically, but still very similar. It's just a very bad feeling. I mean, beyond feeling bad, not just with Hebron but other places as well, I mean I've been out of the army for nearly a year now, and until about half a year ago I was still waking up at night occasionally, I had this recurring dream, this kind of nightmare from which I'd wake up all in a sweat, where I was on one of the missions I'd have as a soldier, on patrol for example.

In Hebron?I had a dream like that keep repeating itself. I'm on patrol and this situation develops and I keep doing the wrong things. I keep doing exactly the opposite of what I now think should be done. Some misunderstanding takes place with a Palestinian, and without thinking twice I pick up a club and beat him to a pulp. Then you get up and say to yourself: wait a minute, that brain of mine is playing tricks. It very often feels turned upside down.