The cherry on top of the IDF
There isn’t a single Israeli who can imagine what it must be like to wake up in the middle of the night to see dozens of armed, violent soldiers as well as dogs and grenades in his home.
The Israel Defense Forces’ Duvdevan unit is just about the very best, albeit with slightly less luster than the Shayetet, the Tayeset and “The Unit” − the IDF’s elite naval commando unit; its elite air force commando unit; and Sayeret Matkal, the general staff’s elite special-operations force, respectively.
Duvdevan veterans are well thought-of in Israeli society. Its soldiers are carefully selected − elite unit or not. And, and as long as we’re speaking of “equality,” then we can say they carry the heaviest “burden” of national service.
On the night of May 25, these soldiers set out on yet another cross-border operation, in the West Bank Palestinian village of Budrus. Their commanders must have gathered them together for a final pre-mission briefing before sunset. Surely they were told about the dangerous terrorist whom they must capture; doubtful they heard that his teenage brother had been killed just four months earlier in a reprehensible manner − shot from close range while trying to escape, after throwing rocks at the separation barrier.
At 2 A.M. the raid began. Someone heard the commander tell his soldiers, “There’s to be no mercy in this house.”
In this house of mourning, unworthy of Duvdevan’s mercy, slept eight teenage girls and young women, their parents and their youngest brother − members of the Awad family. On the roof slept the dangerous wanted man − a waiter in the nearby village of Na’alin suspected of throwing rocks and of disorderly conduct. Such serious offenses.
What happened after that was no less than a mini-pogrom. There were dozens of soldiers and dogs. The front door was sawn, windows smashed, innumerable stun grenades thrown into the home at its occupants. The wanted man thrown down the stairs and injured badly enough to pass out. Kicks and blows to the women and girls.
The IDF Spokesperson claimed the next day that “family members violently resisted arrest.” Initially the office said no soldiers were injured, but then changed its mind: “In the course of the incident two soldiers were slightly injured and treated on the scene.”
I related the details of the incident in Haaretz on Friday (“Battered House, Shattered Family”). This weekend the IDF Spokesperson took the trouble to send me a video clip as evidence of the family violent resistance: 50 seconds, carefully edited and without sound, in which the women of the house cry out desperately, facing innumerable armed soldiers in the tiny house; the wanted man, Abed, hiding behind them, terrified, moaning in pain.
On the clip the IDF Spokesperson’s Office has circled a tiny fruit knife in the hand of one of the women and a miniature sickle held by another, which they wave in the air. I have never seen such a ridiculous video in my life. Any slightest doubt I might have still harbored about what went down in Budrus that night was wiped out by that clip, which proved to me unequivocally that this was a criminally depraved operation.
Let’s start with the fact that it took place in the home of a bereaved family, a teenage member of which was killed by soldiers in circumstances that even the IDF admits were “bad.” One might have expected different treatment of such a family − a family that has, by the way, many Israeli friends.
Then there’s the target: He was wanted for throwing rocks. And the means: a nighttime raid with a preposterous number of soldiers equipped with no less preposterous amounts of weapons. And the result: Four women injured, one of whom needed eight stitches in the head, and a suspect taken into custody bleeding and unconscious. No one, of course, bothered telling the family the next day where he was taken and what had happened to him.
What happened in the Awad home was routine. There isn’t a single Israeli who can imagine what it must be like to wake up in the middle of the night to see dozens of armed, violent soldiers as well as dogs and grenades in his home. This happened by order of the GOC Central Command, Maj. Gen. Nitzan Alon, whom the settlers have marked out as a “leftist” and a “moderate,” in yet another disgusting campaign to change the instructions for opening fire, a campaign that is nothing less than a thirst for even more Palestinian blood.
And all of this is carried out by our best young men − not (this time) the Border Police or the Kfir Brigade, which are known for their brutality, but rather the cherry on top of the creme de la creme (duvdevan is Hebrew for cherry) of the violent control of the territories. And in a relatively calm period there.
The Israelis want to share this burden equally − so that everyone does it, not only the secular and religious-Zionist Jews. That’s the Israeli measure for ethical standards, for volunteerism, for contributing to the state and carrying the burden. And it’s also what the IDF wants the conscientious objector Natan Blanc to do. And it’s what Duvdevan soldiers do, nearly every night, while we watch “Big Brother.”