the Diary of a Human Animal
By Michael Maoz
April 2, 2019
I must admit I am a human animal. I wasn’t aware of that
until I watched the Channel 13 Weekend Magazine and watched Oshrat Kotler
informing the nation that I have been sent [by my parents?] to the army and they
got back a human animal.
And I didn’t know that I was this kind of human being.
Well Oshrat, let me tell you about my adventures in the “territories.” I got there because I was sent – no, not by my parents but by my commanders. I was sent there in order to defend my parents, you and all Israeli inhabitants, both Jews and Arabs. I am not a political figure, so I won’t get into the discussion of “occupation.” I just wish to relate to you some of my adventures there.
During my compulsory service, I was in charge of a checkpoint south of the Dotan Junction. A car with a Palestinian couple arrived at the checkpoint with the mother holding a baby in her arms. The father told me that they are on their way to the Nablus Hospital because the baby fell, resulting in a suspected scalp fracture. I looked at the baby and was doubtful whether the hospital in Nablus is suitable for such case. I called the regiment doctor, who came over with an ambulance and rushed the family to the Hillel Yaffe Medical Center in Hadera. Before leaving, the father asked for my cell phone number. The other day he called in order to thank me and in his own words, “You saved the life of my daughter.” He did not think that I was a human animal.
In another case during my reserved duty, I was ordered to set up a roadblock north of the Lido Junction in order to prevent Palestinians from getting to the Dead Sea “because the vacationers will be scared and leave.” I followed the order, yet contacted my battalion commander, telling him that in my eyes the checkpoint was illegal. He, too, felt bad about the situation and promised to check with Division Commander. I asked the Palestinians to wait while I checked what could be done. In the meanwhile, I treated the children with sweets, which I kept in my pocket for such occasions.
Fortunately, after a short while my commander informed me that he got permission to dismantle the checkpoint and the Palestinians were allowed to continue. I am certain that they, too, disagree with the title that you gave me.
Indeed, during my long service in the territories, I was exposed to unethical behavior. A non-commissioned officer humiliated drivers of a vehicle that he stopped in order to check their papers; a soldier accepted a can of Coke offered by a driver and I even saw a soldier try to hit a Palestinian that was stopped and handicapped. The non-commissioned officer was arrested, brought to trial and expelled from our unit; the can of Coke was returned to the Palestinian driver with an apology and the soldier, a reserve corporal, who tried to hit someone was tried and convicted.
I don’t believe that even these soldiers are human animals and I doubt whether any other army would have reacted like the IDF.
In your “apology” at the end of the program, you made clear that your criticism was directed “solely toward those soldiers that our control of the Palestinians in the territories has led them to harm innocents.”
The question whether they said Palestinians were innocent is irrelevant to the fact that the behavior of the soldiers must be condemned. Yet, in order to get the full picture, it must be added that these Palestinians in the incident you refer to were involved in the attack that led to the murder of Mor Yosef and Yosef Cohen, who served with the said soldiers. This, too, is no excuse for their behavior, yet may supply some context and explanation. More important, how did you find out about these actions? Well, you became aware following an army investigation that led to criminal proceedings. Don’t you think it proper to compliment an army who that took steps against soldiers who acted illegally?
As an alibi, you emphasized that “my own children and their friends have all been combat soldiers in the territories for many years; my own friends as well.” According to Wikipedia, you are a mother of two daughters. As such, they were not obliged to serve in combat units. Allow me to commend you, that thanks to your upbringing, they volunteered for meaningful service. I sincerely hope that although they served in the territories, they did not come back as human animals.
The writer is a reserve lieutenant commander serving as commander of the patrol division of an artillery battalion.