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Text testimonies “We’re blowing up this house, but we can’t eat this bag of Bamba?”
catalog number: 895583
Rank: First Sergeant
Unit: Infantry
Area: Northern Gaza strip
period: 2014
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“We’re blowing up this house, but we can’t eat this bag of Bamba?”
Rank: First Sergeant
Unit: Infantry
Area: Northern Gaza strip
period: 2014

What’s the protocol for entering a house?You hit it with a crazy barrage of fire, using whatever you have with you. You enter – there’s always a force ready to provide cover fire on the house – you hit it with a barrage: heavy machine gun fire, grenade launchers, ‘rat-tat-tat,’ and you go in as quick as you can, the moment the shooting stops. Never through a door, always via a different opening.How do you make an opening?Either with a MATADOR, (portable anti-tank rocket) a tank, a D9 (armored bulldozer) or explosives. You go in and then start ‘sterilizing’ the rooms – two men are assigned to each room and once in a while they throw a grenade or something like that.You enter ‘wet’ (using live fire) or ‘dry’ (using no fire)?Sometimes this way, sometimes that way, it depends on the mood. The house is ‘sterilized,’ we yell, “Sterilized, sterilized” to each other. We went into a house that was a candy shop once. There was candy everywhere. We just shoved everything aside. You didn’t eat any?No, first of all because it wasn’t especially tasty candy and also because during the first few days we were still in the ‘no touching’ phase, being moral and all that. Later we would laugh about it more: “We’re blowing up this house, but we can’t eat this bag of Bamba (peanut butter snacks)?” This was a two-story house. We went up to check the upper floor, to see what the situation was up there, where we could set up the weapons. We had to set up the grenade machine gun up there, and we had a problem. There was this balcony there that was very fitting for a post, but the balcony’s wall, it was a certain height, and the grenade machine gun, its barrel was at a lower height, and of course you can’t fire through the wall – so we had to make a hole in it. But we had the explosives platoon with us at the time – how convenient. They have explosives, so we called them up and they put blocks of explosives on the wall, and we all went down, and it was all very exciting, really. They blew the wall up, and we went back up, and it had made a really nice, perfect hole in the wall – just what we wanted, exactly the right size, and the shockwaves had, like, thrown the rest of the house’s stuff inside it. On the top floor of the house there were also massive sacks of rice and lentils, sacks of, like, two kilos each – and those were perfect for sandbagging the post and setting up the grenade machine gun on them, so we had a really sweet post there. We filled up lots of sandbags ourselves, and set up nice heavy machine gun and grenade machine gun shooting posts. The entire kitchen was upside down from the blast. The entire house, really, was full of goods, and they all spilled onto the floor and got stomped on. The balcony was right off of the kitchen, so when we blew it up the entire kitchen got turned upside down. You can’t really use the place to live in after that. We got settled in, set up two posts upstairs. We blacked out the windows completely using plywood and cloth. We had a few military-issued wool blankets, I think, and we also used some bedding that we found. In one of the rooms we took a two-person bed and put it up against the window. We used furniture a lot – I enjoyed doing that, one gets to be creative. And we used the candy as pillows, it made for great pillows. There were also all kinds of packs of diapers and toilet paper, those were great for pillows, too.What did the house look like after 30 soldiers were in it for three days?It looked pretty bad, first because lots of things were blown up inside and also because no one cared. You smoke inside the house and then toss the butts inside the house. You throw your trash inside the house, no one cares. Our medic was a reservist doctor and it was really important to him that we be orderly and throw our trash in a bin and not shit inside the house – a hygiene thing, mostly. Pretty soon people did start getting diarrhea and lots of soldiers were evacuated because they felt really bad and had the runs. Toilets didn’t work because there was no water, and pretty soon they were overflowing. They told us, “Don’t shit in the bathroom because it’ll get clogged and it’ll be awful.” So we would shit in plastic bags and chuck them out the window. The first few days it was really ugly and then it got a bit better. But it looks bad, first because you do everything quickly and you don’t care – and also because your security is top priority, it justifies everything.