Testimony - "Every night my company ruined the nights of a few such families"
||Nahal, 50th Battalion
An Israeli soldier provides a testimony to Breaking the Silence explaining why he chose to speak out. "Every night my company ruined the nights of a few such families. How can you run your life like that? How can it not be an occupation when the army enters your home once a month?"
Soldier: We had this night of [distributing] summons and arrests and such, some three summonses and an arrest – or more, I don't remember – when we passed through two villages. And then, when we arrived at the second village I tried to recall what happened half an hour ago, or an hour ago at the first village, and I, like, couldn't remember.
Interviewer: What do you mean?
Soldier: I didn't remember whom I arrested, whom I summoned and it ate at me. How can I not remember? I just ruined four families’ night, or week, or whatever, how can I not remember their faces? You really suppress it, you suppress the whole situation. You wear a mask of sorts, you're the toughest guy in the world. "Army, Geish (the word for 'army’ in Arabic)," I would knock on the door, suddenly I was this tough character and it's not me at all.
Interviewer: So how did it become you?
Soldier: I don't know, because that's what I felt was needed for it to succeed. So that we could get out of there quickly, and also the situation that I don't sleep much at night and sort of... You know, you finish at six in the morning, you're already up at eight, and then you're already awake until the next arrest, and then you leave at four in the morning and you're entirely lethargic. You end up half asleep, standing up in somebody's home with your weapon aimed, and then you don't even remember what happened, you're dying to get out of there so you do what needs to be done as quickly as possible. But you enter at three in the morning, [to the home of] a family's and... [a soldier] approaches a Palestinian and talks to him in broken Arabic, the interrogators don't really know Arabic. So how stupid does it sound when some soldier enters, starts threatening you in broken Arabic, but because he has the power, there's nothing you can do. He [the Palestinian] is completely inferior there, and you've got the upper hand.
Interviewer: Why talk? Why break the silence? What’s important to you that people know?
Soldier: First of all, they should know what's happening. Most people don't really know what it looks like there. And then, when you argue with people about the occupation, they say, "What, you're exaggerating, there's no such word as occupation at all, it's just a word that leftists made up. What occupation? Their lives are great." Yes, but like... You know, how can you say "great lives" when I speak about summoning? When every night there's a possibility that [the army] will enter your home? Every night my company ruined the nights of a few such families. How can you run your life like that? How can it not be an occupation when the army enters your home once a month?