August was a really intense month in Hebron. The new brigade was brutal and fearless to abuse, humiliate or shoot. But sometimes, soldiers can be “nice.” I find it amusing that we have learned to expect the worst from the Israeli occupation forces (IOF) so when they aren’t actively hurting people, they are considered nice!
During the last few settler incursions where the military shuts down Palestinian neighbourhoods, soldiers were shaking hands with the Palestinian children, playing football, or giving them candy. Then they would look at us and ask, “why don’t you film that?”
Why would we? Ah yes, of course, they want us to show proof that they are “the most moral army in the world.” Maybe they want other witnesses besides the mainstream media.
After the violence in May 2021, the mainstream media networks are no longer the only source of information as before; the world is gradually learning the truth about Palestine through social media and alternative sources. So yes, the IOF are scared of cameras—although not always, and not all of them—and they understand the power of media. Many journalists, human rights observers and even Palestinians who are filming what is happening to them have been abused by the IOF and Israeli settlers; some of them even lost their lives as a result.
Two weeks ago in Hebron, the IOF arrested four Palestinians; two of them were children. They were taken and used as human shields, then were handcuffed tightly. There was one soldier who was being “nice” during the incident. Whenever he saw his colleagues being violent while there was a camera pointed at them, he would rush to them and ask them to calm down.
“You are not safe here; you better leave,” he said, approaching us.
“We want to make sure these kids are safe,” and we insisted on staying.
“They are fine,” he said.
“They are in pain; we can hear them,” we said.
After a while;
“We removed their handcuffs,” before arresting them.
Did he expect me to say thank you?
Then he turned to us again and said: “I want peace.”
“They want freedom,” I replied.
Everyone wants peace, but how are you creating peace? How are you working for it?
Pope Paul VI, at the World Day of Peace in 1972, argued that “if you want peace, work for justice.” Please pray for all the witnesses of injustice, that they may have the insight to use the resources wisely and to work for justice so we can achieve peace together.