Urgent: Eyewitness report from Palestine

My name is Koby Nahmias. I am an Israeli student from the University. Like every other citizen of Israel, I have served in the Israeli army and continue to do so as part of the army reserve. The sheer number of lies and libels coming from the Arab media forced me to contact my friends back home.

Israel is a small country fighting for its very existence, and as such does not have a professional army like the United States. Every citizen has to serve in the Israeli army for three years between the ages of 18 and 21. This means Israeli soldiers are teen-agers, not battle-hardened veterans or self-styled Rambos. The army reservists are mostly students like us, forced to take time from their studies to defend the only home they have: Israel.

There are two principles embodied in the spirit of the Israel Defense Force: one is human dignity; the other is the purity of arms.

Human dignity states that the IDF and its soldiers are obligated to protect human dignity in that every human being is of value regardless of his or her origin, religion, nationality, gender, status or position.

Purity of arms states that IDF servicemen and women will use their weapons and force only for the purpose of their mission, only to the necessary extent, and will maintain their humanity even during combat. IDF soldiers will not use weapons and force to harm human beings who are not combatants or prisoners of war, and will do all in their power to avoid causing harm to their lives, bodies, dignity and property.

Are these the ideals of an army that would carry out genocide and massacres?

The Palestinian Authority does not share the same ideals. Consider this passage from “Our Beautiful Language,” an Arabic language textbook for the sixth grade, part “A”, p.47: “I will take my soul in my hand and toss it into the abyss of death. And then either life that will gladden friends or death that will anger the enemy. The honorable soul has two objectives: Achieving death and honor.”

How many children learned “The Song of the Martyr” in the sixth grade and became a suicide bomber nine years later?

Have you ever been to a scene of a suicide bombing? For me, it was just next door. It takes a while for the smoke to clear, and all this time you don’t hear anything. Your ears are just numb, bodies and body parts are scattered everywhere, and people are running to help.

Only then, the second explosion hits, targeted to kill the medics and people who try to help the wounded. Later, special medics come to take the pieces and blood off the walls. Another suicide bombing is registered in the press, an additional Palestinian is added to the growing casualty list and, almost as an afterthought, tens of Israeli civilians are added to the list.

More then a hundred suicide bombers blew themselves up to kill as many Jews as possible. The media inflates the list of Palestinian casualties by adding their number to the list of casualties. Sept. 11 was another case of suicide bombing, but of many more casualties. Would you blame the death of the 19 Arab hijackers on the United States?

I called Zemer, a friend of mine from Israel. Zemer, 20, is serving in Bethlehem right now where some of the battles are going on. “We are not endangering people; we are here to fight terrorists, not civilians. Nobody wants to make a mistake. We don’t kill or even wound without reason. Even if someone is shooting from a window, we don’t just blow down the house. We have time, terrorist, terrorist, very slow. We encircle the house, and go in slow, room after room till we get him. Then we blindfold him, handcuffs and take him away.”

I then asked him about the church standoff. Apparently, tens of armed Palestinians withdrew into the nativity church in Bethlehem and are holding the priests hostage. “They are holding the church, but someone is trying to negotiate. I only know that not a single bullet was fired on the church.” And this is when my calling card died; it costs a fortune to call back home.

This time I placed an Internet call to a friend of a friend. Eldar, 22, is a student reservist who was wounded in Jenin three days ago. I asked him to tell me his story and what happened: “We started to get into Jenin. Jenin is a refugee camp where a lot a suicide bombers come from. The first house we checked was a civilian one. We knocked on the door and asked the family to go out. We then asked the father to accompany us as we search the house. We search but we didn’t find anything so we asked the family to go back inside except the father. The father came with us to call his neighbor. As he calls for his neighbor, the neighbor takes out a gun from second floor and starts shooting at all of us, including his neighbor. We had no option but to go back inside the house. As we go inside the second house, a third person comes out with his hands up, and we tie him up.”

At the end, the neighbor that kept shooting was killed, but not before Eldar was shot in the leg. Eldar is in hospital right now, but he had a few more things to say. “I wanted to tell you this story because of the moral dilemmas we encounter here every day. On one hand, there is a civilian population that we need to treat with respect, but on the other hand we have to look for weapons and wanted terrorists.”

So where is the carnage, genocide, and ethnic cleansing reported by Palestinians such as Tzaporah Ryter in the Electronic Intifada and The Minnesota Daily (“Urgent: Eyewitness report from Ramallah,” April 5)? No western reporter, news agency or TV station has reported something even close. For a person who claims to be holed up in a room, not able to go outside, she seems to report quite a lot of information about alleged massacres and executions. She didn’t even admit that Palestinian terrorists are shooting at the Israeli army, pictures of which we can see in every newspaper and TV station.

The truth is that gun battles, such as the one described by Eldar, happen all over the territories. These are battles between terrorist cells and Israeli soldiers. The Palestinian Red Crescent Society reports 63 dead and 148 injured in the recent clashes, the vast majority carrying weapons. The Israeli Red Star of David Society reports 9 dead and 118 wounded soldiers in the recent clashes.

These are not the statistics of genocide but that of a gun battle between the Israel army and Palestinian terrorists.


Koby Nahmias is a biomedical engineering
graduate student and president of Friends of Israel. Send comments to [email protected]