An Israeli Defense Force reservist with prior experience in Gaza took to Reddit Monday to answer questions about the Gaza conflict, and provide personal insight into Israel’s bloody military campaign against Hamas.
In the soldier’s introduction to the AMA (ask me anything), Reddit user zav8 said he served on the Gaza border in 2011, among other places, had lived near the border for years, and was recently drafted back. Zav8 said he was responding to calls on the social platform for an AMA session with an Israeli serving in Gaza, and verified his credentials with Reddit moderators.
The solder was first asked when he thought the war would end.
“I wish I knew the answer and wonder it every second. It needs to end already,” zav8 wrote. “I think the only solution will be for Israel to admit Hamas will stay, and for the world to put UN or NATO troops, demilitarize them, and for Israel to leave them alone. It will also have to be quickly followed by a pullout and agreement for the West Bank because they are the same country (look how f***ed up that is, the same country split into two).”
“I don’t think we need peace like people claim where we help each other and sit for coffee — that can come later. Right now everybody needs to mind their own f***ing business.”
In a response to a question posed by a user claiming to be a native Palestinian, the soldier said “most Israelis see Palestinians as equals.”
“Many are sick of the attacks that occur (obviously not even equivocal to those on Palestinians by an organized country and military) but just want quiet,” zav8 said. “You hear very often Israelis who pity the average citizen of Gaza and blame Hamas for it (they could never imagine Hamas is legitimate for the social care and support they bring to Palestinians).”
Another asked how IDF troops in general viewed Palestine.
“Most Israelis don’t see their army service as a direct correlation to the occupation. Most only serve because its mandatory,” zav8 wrote. “But they believe in the protection of Israelis and that we are under threat by terrorists. Also most soldiers in the West Bank see their [responsibility] as making sure there won’t be any problems and that politicians should take care of the issues. I know that most guys I was with hated settlers as opposed to Palestinians because they cause more trouble and even threw stones at us and called us Nazis.”
“Most Israelis don’t view Gaza as being occupied since the siege only started after Hamas came to power and had already fired thousands of rockets into Israel.”
Asked about the specifics of the closing ground operation, the soldier said Hamas is too-well equipped to be considered a simple terrorist organization.
“I feel the pullout is good. The goal was only tunnels going into Israel, the rockets are already in the thousands and cant be stopped. I think it was also great they didn’t try to hold on to it for longer, it will just cause more damage to each side,” zav8 wrote. “I hadn’t seen any civilians up close, we saw them in Beit Hanoun but did from afar. I felt very bad for them, I would be furious at the world if I was in their position.”
“Hamas fights with very modern tactics. They have Kornet missiles and know to hide well. Even thermal and IR cameras. We shouldn’t consider them terrorists, rather an army and a political movement.”
When asked about the touchy subject of Israeli attacks on schools in Gaza, the soldier defended Israel’s position with personal experience.
“I can tell you from firsthand experience we were shot at from a school in Beit Hanoun. I don’t know if it was Hamas fighters or rogue fighters, but we were told not to shoot them unless our life was in immediate danger,” zav8 wrote. “The school was abandoned. Three people shot at us from afar, and the tank shot at the building until they stopped.”
“[By the way] I would do the same. It was a tall building which they had a good chance to kill us from. That’s what really matters, protecting your land.”
According to the soldier the Israeli government and military tried to reduce civilian casualties as much as possible, but as Gaza is such a small place, people have no place to go to safely escape the conflict.
“Israelis want the tunnels and rockets to stop, they are built and launched to kill Israelis,” zav8 wrote. “The people in Gaza need a real safe place to go. Like out of the strip so they don’t have to see the fighting. Not some building 10 meters away from where both parties agree to fight.”