A reserve soldier in the Israeli Defence Force (IDF) who was called back to duty has started a Reddit AMA and is fielding questions about what it is like to serve in the Israeli military during wartime.
The soldier, posting under the handle zav8, first served in the IDF in 2011 in the West Bank and, for a brief time, along the Syrian border. After his military service, zav8 lived close to the border with Gaza for a few years before he was mobilized as a reserve soldier for Operation Protective Edge.
Zav8’s responses to questions about his time in the IDF offer a window into Israel’s controversial military campaign against Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip.
We have highlighted some of zab8’s most thought provoking responses below.
Asked about how long the war will last, and what will be required for it to end, zav8 replied:
I wish I knew the answer and wonder it every second. It needs to end already.
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—– 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—— business.
When asked what the general view of IDF troops were towards Palestine, zav8 said:
Most Israelis don’t see their army service as a direct correlation to the occupation. Most only serve because its mandatory (which is actually good because you can have a better selection of soldiers) 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 [job] as making sure [there] wont 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.
Zav8 shared his own personal reason for fighting in the conflict:
I want to protect my home, and I was drafted. Its the law.
I also felt throughout my service it’s better I’m there as a compassionate caring person then somebody who acts like shit.
When asked about the ending of the ground operations, and the strength of Hamas, zav8 said:
Great questions! 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
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 if he saw child soldiers fighting alongside Hamas, zav8 said:
Personally no, but my friends did mention seeing militants that looked young or had kids near them. I don’t believe Hamas would allow a kid to fight (maybe 16+), they need to be as legitimate as possible, but there are fighters not aligned with Hamas.
Zav8 took time to explain the Israeli destruction of schools in Gaza:
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 out life was in immediate danger …
The school was abandoned. Three people shot at us from afar, and the tank shot at the building until they stopped.
BTW 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.
Zav8 made sure to clarify in his responses that the deaths of civilians and children was not morally justifiable:
No, not at all. That being said, I can say that the government and army really did try to stop as many civilians deaths as possible. The problem is that Gaza is such a small place, [and] unlike other places people have nowhere to go. And when you put in ground forces to stop the tunnels then every soldier who feels threatened will shoot.
Israelis want the tunnels and rockets to stop, they are built and launched to kill Israelis …
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.