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How the IDF turned a Palestinian house into a military post

Shattered televisions, clothes and food scattered everywhere, clogged toilets, walls covered in drawings, stolen jewelry. These are the scenes that awaited Palestinians in Gaza upon returning to their homes that were used as IDF military posts.

By Alexandr Nabokov

The devastation is total. Furniture is overturned, clothes are torn out of the closets and scattered around. Though I try to avoid it, I trample on them as I walk over broken glass, food scraps and cartridge cases. The walls are scribbled with Hebrew writing; large maps of the surrounding houses, along with guard schedules. I am inside a house that seems to be the one from which Salem Shamaly was shot dead in Shejaiye, the young man who died a few meters in front of me when he tried to evacuate his relatives during what was supposed to be a humanitarian ceasefire.

Military plans scribbled on the wall of a Palestinian home used as a military post by Israeli soldiers during Operation Protective Edge, the Gaza Strip, August 2014. (photo: Alexandr Nabokov)

Military plans scribbled on the wall of a Palestinian home used as a military post by Israeli soldiers during Operation Protective Edge, the Gaza Strip, August 2014. (photo: Alexandr Nabokov)

A Star of David scribbled on the wall of a Palestinian home used as a military post by Israeli soldiers during Operation Protective Edge, the Gaza Strip, August 2014. (photo: Alexandr Nabokov)

A Star of David scribbled on the wall of a Palestinian home used as a military post by Israeli soldiers during Operation Protective Edge, the Gaza Strip, August 2014. (photo: Alexandr Nabokov)

It’s not the first time I’ve seen destruction inside a house like this. It is one of four houses I have walked through that was used by Israeli forces during Operation Protective Edge, and the destruction in them is similar. I guide a TV crew around the house, pointing at the ‘X’ spraypainted outside the windows; a signal to fellow soldiers not to attack. I show the the crew the sandbags in the windows, how the soldiers made ​​use of pillowcases belonging to the house’s inhabitants and filled them with sand; that is why the floor tiles are broken – to gain access to the sand beneath.

An 'X' spraypainted outside the window of a Palestinian home to signal to other IDF soldiers not to shoot there, the Gaza Strip, August 2014. (photo: Alexandr Nabokov)

An ‘X’ spraypainted outside the window of a Palestinian home to signal to other IDF soldiers not to shoot there, the Gaza Strip, August 2014. (photo: Alexandr Nabokov)

Evidence of the soldiers’ presence is everywhere: the empty packages of underwear and the used ones scattered on the floor, the empty tins of food with Hebrew labels, wrapped sandwiches, two military shirts and a dark blue beret that were left behind, the shattered TV screen with a hammer beside it, the empty jewelry box. It is customary to give gifts of gold jewelry at Palestinian weddings. In one of the other four houses also used as a military outpost the owner showed me his wife’s empty jewelry box, along with a valuation certificate. When I mentioned this to my contact at the UN she confirmed that similar reports had been received all along the border areas between Gaza and Israel, where Israeli soldiers had set up military posts in private Palestinian homes. But don’t worry, this is the world’s most moral army.

The hammer used to smash a television in a Palestinian home used as a military post by Israeli soldiers during Operation Protective Edge, the Gaza Strip, August 2014. (photo: Alexandr Nabokov)

The hammer used to smash a television in a Palestinian home used as a military post by Israeli soldiers during Operation Protective Edge, the Gaza Strip, August 2014. (photo: Alexandr Nabokov)

An IDF shirt left behind in a house used as a military post by Israeli soldiers during Operation Protective Edge, the Gaza Strip, August 2014. (photo: Alexandr Nabokov)

An IDF shirt left behind in a house used as a military post by Israeli soldiers during Operation Protective Edge, the Gaza Strip, August 2014. (photo: Alexandr Nabokov)

Those in the TV crew recoil when they see and smell the stench from the toilets. I can only confirm that it’s the same in all the houses I’ve been to; flushing toilets doesn’t seem to be part of military training. I show the crew the cover of a Koran that has had all its pages torn out, a family album with all its photographs missing. Erasing the memories of Palestinian history has long been part of Israeli warfare; history is what builds national identity.

All the toilets in the house were clogged up and had not been flushed after the Palestinian home was used as a military post by Israeli soldiers during Operation Protective Edge, the Gaza Strip, August 2014. (photo: Alexandr Nabokov)

All the toilets in the house were clogged up and had not been flushed after the Palestinian home was used as a military post by Israeli soldiers during Operation Protective Edge, the Gaza Strip, August 2014. (photo: Alexandr Nabokov)

From the roof I point to other surrounding houses, showing how together they can strategically survey a large part of the area; the desolate land in front of them that had, until recently, been a thriving orchard. I point to the land closer to the border area, less than a hundred meters from us, traces of crawlers can be clearly seen. The tanks must have been neatly lined up side-by-side, shooting directly into the buildings. I point out a barn beyond where the tanks stood; there are dead cows and camels inside. It’s not likely the camels died of thirst.

It is the last day of the extended ceasefire and when we leave the area we are not alone; people who returned to what remains of their homes begin to leave them again, carrying their smallest children and only the most necessary belongings they could retrieve. They exit their houses in little rivulets, seeking out the paths back to friends and acquaintances or UN schools where they are taking shelter. This time they do not have to flee in a panic, but this time several of them also have no valuables to worry about.

Alexandr Nabokov is an international activist currently in Gaza.

Read this post in Hebrew on Local Call.

Related:
How money vanishes into think air during a West Bank raid
In search of teens, soldiers ‘looted’ Palestinian homes

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  • COMMENTS

    1. Tomer

      There is no such thing as a “fakestinyan house” or indeed a fakestinyan town or fakestinyan rights.

      All you have are some Arabs who having started the 6 day war and then losing it, they have fabricated a false identity to claw back their claims to the Land.

      This tactic is ILLEGITIMATE and false. No such p people ever existed in history. This is a FACT – not just my opinion.

      Reply to Comment
      • Lo

        Your claim is as ridiculous as suggesting Jews don’t need Israel because they have Brooklyn.

        Reply to Comment
        • TOMER

          Of fakestine existed then:
          1. Where was its capital?
          2. Who was its 1st King?
          3. Where was its parliament located?
          4. What was its currency called?

          I look forward to Lo answering these questions. Indeed, Fakestine is like the Jewish State of Brooklyn ie it NEVER EXISTED

          Reply to Comment
      • Human

        You are one stupid, ignorant, bigoted fool.

        We can not educate you on a webpage; I suggest you pick up a real book.

        Reply to Comment
    2. Pedro X

      This is too funny.

      Mr. Nabokov complains that Israel is bad because it did not clean up after itself. I suppose he wants Israel to operate a maid service during or after its military operation.

      I might ask Mr. Alexandr Nabokov did the Russians operate a french maid service in Chechnya? Is the French Army in Mali operating a Russian maid service? Perhaps the Ukrainians are sending in maids to clean up their mess? Did Americans bring their Latino maids to clean up after them in Iraq?

      I wonder if Mr. Nobokov understands that there is a war going on initiated by Hamas with the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teenagers. When Khaled Mashaal admitted Hamas had killed the three teens we did not hear him apologize for killing the teens or shooting 3500 rockets into Israel. Nor did he apologize for not sending in a maid service to clean up the damage, death and destruction caused by Gazan rockets and mortars.

      Reply to Comment
      • Stinging words

        Reply to Comment
        • Whiplash

          I heard the other day that Abu Mazda and Banked Kee Moonie are calling for a cease fire for maid services. Hamas will only agree to maid services under fire. Francis Hollonde, Davidi Cameron and Angeler Mekerel have all agreed to send EU observers to make sure the maids only bring in cleaning supplies. The Arab League is no where to be seen. President Obama is on vacation and cannot spare any of his pretty maids.

          Reply to Comment
          • Lo

            Yeah, how funny and stupid! Psh, why shouldn’t Israeli soldiers deface and loot Palestinian homes? It’s not like they’re “real” people right? If they hadn’t bought that jewelry in the first place, some snot-nosed IDF grunt wouldn’t have been forced to steal it (again, purely a necessary tactical measure).

            Haha yeah, you tell it to Obama, man. Sure he’s signing the checks to Israel, sure he is continuing to shield Israel from condemnation by the UNSC, but screw him right! He’s not even white! How could he ever understand the Middle East of Israel. So naive.

            Reply to Comment
      • Ray

        I hope your friends never have you overnight at their own homes, if you consider flushing the toilet after you take a taco sh**, picking up after yourself and your immature jarhead friends, refraining from drawing graffiti on the walls (hasn’t the IDF ever heard of this invention called the whiteboard? Football coaches use them all the time), and not filching somebody else’s valuables to be a “maid service.” You’re probably even more of a slob than me.

        I wonder what these soldiers’ drill sergeant thought, after riding on them for months to get them to keep their bunks neat, when he saw their treatment of somebody else’s home?

        Reply to Comment
    3. Richard

      Gaza is definitely the first “concentration camp” I’ve ever seen where people own massive flatscreen TVs.

      Reply to Comment
      • Ray

        Nothing like a flatscreen TV to distract you from the knowledge that you are unable to leave, and that no foreign trade means no money.

        Reply to Comment
      • Lo

        Your line of logic is identical to when right-wing reactionaries in America claim poor people aren’t actually poor because they have refrigerators or cell phones.

        You don’t know what kind of extraordinary efforts were required to get that TV, and it doesn’t matter to you. Some Israelis occupied the house and smashed up a TV (purely for tactical reasons, obvs) but let’s forget that because how dare those damned, dirty Palestinians even have a TV?!

        Reply to Comment
        • Richard

          Unintentional satire at its finest. Thanks for the laughs guys.

          Reply to Comment
          • Ray

            There are some people who think defense of poor/besieged people is “funny.” Those people probably weren’t hugged enough as kids.

            Reply to Comment
          • Richard

            I’m laughing at you Ray. You. Just you. Because I like your jokes.

            Reply to Comment
          • Ray

            What’s so funny? Assume I am an idiot that needs everything painstakingly spelled out for him, and be so kind as to explain why what I commented earlier was funny.

            Reply to Comment
      • Ray

        I know, man. Just like those stupid colonists, getting all pissy about having to quarter Redcoats in their homes for violating England’s right to self-defense. The Boston Tea Partiers were the first terrorists, after all. Perspective, perspective, perspective!

        And before I forget, please tell us all, again, exactly what Islamic State has to do with your own affairs?

        Reply to Comment
    4. Jan

      This is typical behavior of the IDF invaders. During the Second Intifada they occupied and ransacked homes, offices and any other place that their dirty boots took them. They used copy machines as toilets, urinated on expensive Persian rugs and on the mattresses of homes that they occupied. They are a filthy army that has done filthy things to the people they have been occupying since 1967. Maybe their mothers never taught them manners. Maybe they just like to live this way or they really want to show the Palestinians how much they really hate them.

      If this was done to Jews it would be called rank and disgusting anti-Semitism. But when it is done to Palestinians there are sadly those who see no problem and probably did the same when they were in the IDF.

      Reply to Comment
    5. Gustav

      Hate begets hate. Palestinian Arabs hate Jews, they get contempt in return.

      Not nice but humans will be humans. Humans are not angels.

      Jan
      Tell your clients, Hamas, to stop THEIR hatred against Jews. Oh and don’t forget to tell them to stop their rockets against Israeli women and children. We will then treat them with more respect.

      Reply to Comment
      • MuslimJew

        “Hate begets hate. Palestinian Arabs hate Jews, they get contempt in return.”

        Tell your clients, Israel, to stop behaving like prize cunts while waving around stars of David, if they wish to stop hatred against Jews. Oh and don’t forget to tell them that Palestinians are not untermenschen, and that they have the right to self-defense against Jews that behave like thugs. You will treat them with respect, if you don’t want what you have been trying and wishing to do to them for nearly 100 years now, done to you.

        Reply to Comment
    6. Gustav

      Yea right you bastards did not behave like prized cunts to us even before there was Israel.

      Go read up on the Hebron massacre of Jews in 1929. Or even before that, read up on how you treated the Jews of Jerusalem back in 1854 and modern Zionism didn’t even exist then.

      But oh yeah, I forgot, that was ok huh, because we are just Dhimis? Right, Muslim?

      People like you, Muslim, with selective memories are the reason why there is hatred between our peoples and why innocents die on both sides.

      Reply to Comment
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