Israeli Army reported that two soldiers were injured
as they attacked Palestinian members of the resistance
in Gaza [BBC 2 January 2003]. The reality could be
far more severe than they admit.
the Army killed Hamza Abu al-Rubb in Qabatiya, Jenin
district, on 26 December 2002, they said their wanted
man injured three of their soldiers when he fought
back. His wife adds to the account. When the soldiers
ordered the family outside, making them remove their
warm clothes on that rainy day, they apparently expected
Hamza to surrender himself. They were surprised that
he came to the door fighting and throwing grenades.
He went back inside and got more grenades to pitch
at them. The Army killed him but they also took losses.
His wife reports that they put at least six dead Israeli
soldiers in black plastic body bags in her front yard.
black flag outside the house of mourning is inscribed
with the statement witnessing to the faith, "There
is no god but God and Muhammad is the prophet of God."
The women mourners sitting with the widow have no
doubt as to why the Army lightened the news. They
know that soldiers who know what really happened will
be afraid to come to Jenin, or to the Occupied Territories
at all, in spite of their superior might.
know that the Israeli soldiers are not all forged
in the same furnace. During the Big Invasion in April,
they say that some soldiers stayed inside houses "sleeping,
and do you know why?" I am asked. I surmise that
it is for the same reason some people heard them on
the opposite side of their own home's walls, crying
for their mothers and cursing Sharon. For fear. But
my interlocutor doesn't even begin there. He feels
it is because they don't agree with the Occupation
and its violence.
these men also know the determined fierceness of the
forces here. Sometimes they coerce a family member
to call the wanted man on his mobile phone, whereupon
the Army captain surprises him by taking over the
conversation, "I just want you to come for a
cup of coffee." He may then tell the man that
he will decorate the Camp with his picture, referring
to the posters of martyrs on every public wall, and
some private ones. His threat may elicit a comment
from the wanted man that he has God guarding him.
The captain may reply that, while that man stands
alone with God, he himself has the entire strength
of the mighty Israeli Army behind him.
it is a shock when soldiers are actually killed, even
with their powerful rearguard. The Army has to soften
the news to keep soldiers coming to enforce the Occupation,
and to guard their comrades.
the first day of Ramadan, a contingent of soldiers
were inspecting the lonely cluster of houses remaining
in the destroyed area of Jenin Refugee Camp. Several
internationals kept observational guard of the soldiers.
One soldier, resting on a mound of ochre colored dirt,
with his rifle trained on the houses, warned us to
keep a distance so we did not get caught in the crossfire.
"What crossfire?" I asked him, and I mentioned
the beating they gave a man they had just taken into
a jeep. He replied that they never use excessive force
unless they need to, and that the situation was more
complex than I presented it. We talked about who belongs
where as residents waited outside their homes, prevented
from breaking their fast at sundown. Still in what
looked like a lounging position, the soldier admitted,
"I just want to go home." He sounded more
out of place than the residents displaced by the search
high school student remembers a previous time when
her father was imprisoned far from home and says,
"I can't help but think that for everything we
suffer, they are suffering too." I tell her about
the times the soldiers and children talked to each
other like humans. The next day she reads me a story
she has written from the point of view of an Israeli
soldier who kills a child and later tells his disagreeing
comrade that he feels he has killed one of his own.
This Palestinian girl certainly knows the story from
the other side, having lost three children in her
group of young men in the Camp agree to a Boal style
theatre game where a director shows the present situation
as he sees it by placing actors in the appropriate
positions like statues. Our director shows the Palestinians
handcuffed and the Israeli soldier pointing a rifle
at their backs. His next task is to show the scene
as he would like to see it. He does so as attention
scatters, and I reprimand him for not completing the
scene of the ultimate goal, "You left a soldier
in the Camp!" Finally he shows me that the Israeli
soldier has lowered his gun, and is talking with the
Palestinians active in the resistance. Talking with
them. Others agree with this resolution. Inside I
am surprised and abashed that I am the one who could
not comprehend that communication is the desired goal,
even with the soldier still armed.
think back to the morning visit to the house of mourning,
where a light breeze ruffled the black flag of Islamic
Jihad, and the soft blue sky held fat white clouds
preparing to rain on the evil and the good, as the
Bible tells it.
soldiers killed as they eliminated a fighter resisting
the Occupation. Thousands of other Israeli citizens
find ways not to serve in the Occupation Army, deeming
its goals and methods immoral. Some raise the issue
of a soldier's duty to refuse executing an immoral
order, an act known as raising a black flag.
soldiers might have raised a black flag opposing the
Occupation. Instead a black Jihad flag marks the place
where they and their opponent fell together. Six soldiers
lost in a news blackout.
Annie Higgins in Jenin, Occupied Palestine
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