May 19, 2013
Testimonies by Israeli Veterans From Gaza and the Occupied Territories
Posted on Nov 27, 2012
By Breaking the Silence, TomDispatch
Location: Gaza Strip
On the legs.
And poured oil on him, the stuff we use to clean weapons.
Location: Gaza Strip
There’s an area bordering Gaza that’s under the navy’s control. Even after Israel disengaged from the Strip, nothing changed in the sea sector. I remember that near Area K, which divided Israel and Gaza, there were kids as young as four or six, who’d get up early in the morning to fish, in the areas that were off-limits. They’d go there because the other areas were crowded with fishermen. The kids always tried to cross, and every morning we’d shoot in their direction to scare them off. It got to the point of shooting at the kids’ feet where they were standing on the beach or at the ones on surfboards. We had Druze police officers on board who’d scream at them in Arabic. We’d see the poor kids crying.
What do you mean, “shoot in their direction”?
It starts with shooting in the air, then it shifts to shooting close by, and in extreme cases it becomes shooting toward their legs.
At what distance?
Five or six hundred meters, with a Rafael heavy machine gun, it’s all automatic.
Where do you aim?
It’s about perspective. On the screen, there’s a measure for height and a one for width, and you mark where you want the bullet to go with the cursor. It cancels out the effect of the waves and hits where it’s supposed to, it’s precise.
You aim a meter away from the surfboard?
More like five or six meters. I heard about cases where they actually hit the surfboards, but I didn’t see it. There were other things that bothered me, this thing with Palestinian fishing nets. The nets cost around four thousand shekels, which is like a million dollars for them. When they wouldn’t do what we said too many times, we’d sink their nets. They leave their nets in the water for something like six hours. The Dabur patrol boat comes along and cuts their nets.
As a punishment.
Because they didn’t do what we said. Let’s say a boat drifts over to an area that’s off-limits, so a Dabur comes, circles, shoots in the air, and goes back. Then an hour later, the boat comes back and so does the Dabur. The third time around, the Dabur starts shooting at the nets, at the boat, and then shoots to sink them.
Is the off-limits area close to Israel?
There’s one area close to Israel and another along the Israeli-Egyptian border… Israel’s sea border is twelve miles out, and Gaza’s is only three. They’ve only got those three miles, and that’s because of one reason, which is that Israel wants its gas, and there’s an offshore drilling rig something like three and a half miles out facing the Gaza Strip, which should be Palestinian, except that it’s ours… the Navy Special Forces unit provides security for the rig. A bird comes near the area, they shoot it. There’s an insane amount of security for that thing. One time there were Egyptian fishing nets over the three-mile limit, and we dealt with them. A total disaster.
They were in international waters, we don’t have jurisdiction there, but we’d shoot at them.
At Egyptian fishing nets?
Yes. Although we’re at peace with Egypt.
Oded Na’aman is co-editor of Our Harsh Logic: Israeli Soldiers’ Testimonies from the Occupied Territories, 2000–2010 (Metropolitan Books, 2012). He is also a founder of Breaking the Silence, an Israeli organization dedicated to collecting the testimonies of Israel Defense Force soldiers, and a member of the Israeli Opposition Network. He served in the IDF as a first sergeant and crew commander in the artillery corps between 2000 and 2003 and is now working on his PhD in philosophy at Harvard University. The testimonies in this piece from Our Harsh Logic have been adapted and shortened.
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Copyright 2012 Breaking the Silence
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