See the dossier Breaking the Silence

- I. Hebron Testimonies

Every day a six-man unit would cross over the roofs and enter a house. First they’d search the entrances and exits, order the entire family into a single room and get them to talk: ID cards, profession, begin to interrogate them. It also serves one of the army’s aims—to make its presence felt. I remember many of the interrogations, but I recall one in particular where we asked…we spoke with an older man who, unlike many of the others who say things like, “We’ve got no problem with Israel,” “We’re neither Fatah nor Hamas”… “All we really want is peace so we can work”… Usually when they say things like that you can see that they’re just looking at you. They’re looking at your weapon. They’re all scared, so it’s only natural that they act so defeated. But this man was not obsequious, and he spoke the truth: that his life was a living hell, and that he wanted us to get out already. He said that we are to blame for this entire situation, and all he wanted was for us to get out. I think someone asked him why he hated us, why he supports the opposition fronts. Why he supports killings. I don’t agree with the man’s opinions, but he told the soldier that he had entered his home just like that, and was humiliating him, undermining his dignity. And I looked at this man and said to myself: wait a minute, here is this man in his own home, and it made me think of my own family home, surrounded by a garden, and greenery, a kind of fortress surrounded by a hedge of lantana and hibiscus, and I thought what if someone were to burst into our house like that, entering through an upstairs window, and force my parents and my younger brother into one of the rooms and start interrogating us, questioning us, searching the entrances and exits, and treating us so patronizingly… If I had not received the kind of education I did, I think I would certainly support even … That is to say, this going into people’s houses, how can you relate to it as something separate?

These are not people of a different kind. The men even physically look like my grandfather. … An elderly man, or an old man who has to beg you at the checkpoint to allow him to pass, who shows you an X-Ray and you have no idea why he’s showing it to you, or the man who tells you that his brother in Bab al-Zawia is ill with asthma or some other disease and that he’s has to pay him a visit. That same person could be your own father, for whom you have the greatest respect, but do we really understand what respect is…It’s hard to say what I felt at that moment. On the one hand, I was stationed there, I didn’t choose to be there. On the other hand, I wanted to get the hell out of there. As an individual who considers himself a nice guy, a moral kind of guy... I said to myself, damn I’m really doing something here that I don’t believe in. I don’t believe in it 100%, and I’m putting myself in a position where someone wants to kill me because of it. The question is, where am I? Do I have no choice in the matter? In other words, should I refuse? Is refusal the answer? So there I was torn by the dilemma, pondering. I had lots of time eight by eight [eight hours on-duty eight hours off-duty] to think about it. The point is that I was faced with a crazy dilemma where I was torn between personal freedom and personal choice. Here lies the contradiction between the military, which is undemocratic and the state, which is supposed to be democratic. When you see that you are doing things which in your own home could not possibly happen and must never be allowed to happen, this is where you cross a certain line. Okay, so here you’re in a different state. That is to say, everything you have known until now, all the rules by which you and your own family conduct your lives, all that does not seem to count here. *** Sit and wait. Why? Because he walked outside. Because he dared go buy something. Because he dared send his kid to school