Idan testifies that serving in the occupied territories, in the midst of the second Intifada, was completely crazy. The surreal chase after stone-throwing kids through greenhouses filled with eggplants and tomatoes ended only after all of the greenhouses were demolished by the Israeli military front loaders, and instead the army built trenches and barricades that completely closed the north access to the city of Jenin. Entering the city seemed like a descent down to hell.
Serving in Hebron was a direct continuation of the madness by other means. One of the missions was to guard a plot that belonged to a settler who chose to start a grapevine in the middle of a Palestinian town. He would come every morning at 6 AM and only return home when the sun sets. The lives of 10 soldiers were put in danger for a guy who wants to grow grapes specifically in the middle of the town.
His next reserve service, as a checkpoint commander in the Qalqilya region, provided him with experiences of a different kind. Every now and then, his commanders would dramatically point over to the Dan district, seen in the not-so-far horizon, and repeat the same phrase - “it is only here that you understand why and what we are fighting for.”
It was not only said to manifest a purpose, but also to rouse a sense of threat and danger. But, as the unit commander put it, the biggest danger was the MachsomWatch ladies - a group of Israeli women who would stand silently by the checkpoint and document everything. The commander concluded his feeling on the subject in a one phrase: “if a Palestinian poses a threat - you just shoot him in the head; unfortunately, we cannot shoot MachsomWatch women.”
While visiting Germany after his service, Idan met Ahmed from Ramallah. After hearing his story about being tortured in a secret IDF facility, he wasn't very surprised when Ahmed confessed that under other circumstances, he might have killed him. Idan understood his feeling of revenge.
With that being said, the deep insight of the hopelessness of Violence and the cycle of revenge came from watching the IDF shell neighborhoods in Gaza with phosphorus ammunition. In the evening, an IDF spokesperson denied it. This obvious lie was, for Idan, a trust crisis, and it signaled the beginning of a new way of thinking, instantly translated into a refusal to serve in the occupied territories. That was the beginning of the path which led to CFP.
There is no forgiveness about what's done in the occupied territories in our name, and there’s no reconciliation with the people we hurt. But we need, and should, channel revenge into something more constructive, like CFP wish achieving.