NEVEH DEKALIM, Gaza Strip (Aug. 16)
The soldier with a honey-colored ponytail tucked under her hat was surrounded by weeping teenage girls asking her where her Jewish heart was — but she didn’t flinch. “How can you evacuate my grandmother? She was in the Palmach,” one teary-eyed girl with dark hair and a long red skirt pleaded Tuesday, referring to the elite Jewish militia that fought to establish Israel in 1948.
Liron Ben-Dor, the 19-year-old soldier, replied calmly, “I love this country no less than you do. We are doing this so we can continue living here.”
Unconvinced, the growing crowd of girls and young women continued to bombard her with the slogans and arguments that the anti-pullout movement has drilled them to repeat.
One asked her how she could carry out such a crime, referring to the ongoing evacuation of Gaza’s Jewish settlements. Another told her she was being used by the Israeli government.
A third asked her, “Why do I have to defend my home from soldiers?”
The scene has been replicated countless times in the past days and weeks as the anti-withdrawal camp uses what it hopes will be its most effective weapon: psychological guilt.
They see it differently, saying they are merely spreading the “truth” — one, they say, that was given to them by God.
The main slogans of the movement: “A Jew does not expel another Jew,” and “Soldier, policeman, refuse orders.”
“Shame on you” is also popular, as the activists ask soldiers and police officers how they’ll live with themselves in the future after having allegedly betrayed the Jewish people.
In most cases, the police and soldiers do not engage their questioners and stare directly ahead, their eyes hidden behind reflective sunglasses. Some appear bored by the repeated verbal abuse and even begin to yawn.
But some are stung. One soldier, visibly upset by the verbal warfare, wiped a tear from her eyes during the scuffles Tuesday in Neveh Dekalim. Her friend and fellow soldier gave her a hug.
As security forces marched up the main road in Neveh Dekalim trying to break up a crowd blocking the road, one man with a beard and a small boy on his shoulders yelled out in a booming voice, “Get out of here! Leave our homes, criminals!”
The troops kept moving forward.
Further down the road, a teenage girl spotted a soldier with a kipah. As he passed by, she yelled, “He’s wearing a kipah, how can that be? He should take it off.”
Iskar Lugar, 15, from Petach Tikva kneeled in the sand behind a row of soldiers on break sitting on a curb, their backs toward her.
In a voice hoarse from crying, Lugar yelled out at them, “I’m your sister. Why are you doing this? As long as we are connected to the land we are connected to God.”