Then I saw an article last week -- a letter from a soldier, "Maayan" who participated in removing people from their homes in Gush Katif. I wanted to translate and didn't have the time. Arutz Sheva translated it and saved me the effort. The soldier, from a left-wing kibbutz who had never stepped foot inside a settlement till she was sent to evacuate it -- publicized her story -- a request for forgiveness, in an interview with Yedidya Meir on the Kol Chai radio station.
The whole transcript in Hebrew is here. Parts of it are translated into English here (via A7)
"It began when we were sent to Bdolach to help pack up the nursery school. I was simply amazed to see the entire nursery still there, with all the toys and all the games as usual, despite the fact that they were supposed to be evicted three days later. Nobody had packed. While we were packing, a woman came and yelled at us, 'Go away, don't pack, who gave you permission?!' I wanted to talk to her and ask her why she was angry at me.Later, apparently the same day, Maayan's army unit was taken to another town-to-be-destroyed, Kfar Darom:
"Suddenly, she asked me, 'Do you know what they are planning to do with us, or where they're planning to take us?' I didn't have the answer, but I was sure that someone else did. I told her, 'I'll make sure that someone will take care of you. The State certainly has a place for you to live.' I was sure that if this turned out not to be true, we as an ideological movement and as citizens would organize to protest such a thing.
"Three years is not a short time, and things should have straightened out already. But year after year we see that this is not the case. I'm very ashamed to look these people in the eyes. I am ashamed that I represented the values of the State, while the State forgot these values."
"We entered Kfar Darom. This was the first time I was in Gush Katif. I saw that it looked just like a Kibbutz - large lawns, very nice one-floor houses. I had always thought that 'settlers' meant caravans and poverty, but suddenly I saw how beautiful the place was.This reminds me of a post I wrote just after the Disengagement...
We got to the houses of the families, and then it became very, very hard. The pain that was there, we also felt. We waited for a long time outside the houses, watching from the side as the officers went in and tried to talk with the families. There was one family that decided to leave on its own, but they had an 11-year-old boy who refused. He just yelled and cried and sobbed.
"At one point, his father and brother said they refused to let any soldiers come into their house, and that they would take the boy out by themselves. When they took him out, he simply cried and screamed and kicked. I could see that this was no show. He was doing this in his father's arms. He cried and asked, 'Why are you doing this? How can you leave the house?! Why are you listening to them?!'
"It was a traumatic experience. My [girl]friends started to cry, for the first time. One of them next to me said, 'You'll hear these cries of his as you're giving birth.' It was truly jolting. The cries of that boy are with me every day. They really are."
Gush Katif, Shirat Hayam. 18-August. The IDF and police have totally surrounded the Beit Knesset of Shirat Hayam, so that a sea of black, blue, and green totally hides the sand in all directions. Atop the shul's roof, is the loudspeaker poll, which allows for 360 degree announcements (which used to be used for security purposes). One of the newer residents of Shirat Hayam. who moved into a tent, 1 month earlier -- Moshe Feiglin, takes the microphone and addresses the soliders.Its been a G-d awful 3 years.
"I want to tell you a story which happened in the Shomron hills last year. As many of you know, the Israeli government has declared war on many settlements and outposts over the past years, and has used trememdous force to accomplish this objective. In one outpost, Border Police destroyed the house and expelled the family living there. Yet, something happened. One of the border policemen later on decided to be "chozer b'tshuva" and become closer to Judaism. He asked his rav, how to repent for demolishing a fellow Jew's home. His rav replied that he needed to find the family of the home he demolished, and ask their forgiveness. After searching for some time, he located the family, and explained his predicament. The family didn't forgive him, and the dejected policeman returned back to his rav for additional guidance. His rav told him that he would have to rebuild the home for the family.
For the past year, this policeman has left his job, and is building a home for this family, with his own 2 hands, brick by brick.
Soldiers and Police - I ask that you bring a pen and paper with you to every home you "visit" in Gush Katif, and write down a contact number for each family. For the day will come when you too will want to repent for what you are doing now, and you will need to find each family individually, and beg for forgiveness, and maybe even have to personally rebuild these homes.
Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael טובה הארץ מאד מאד