The first time Oren met an Arab, was when an Arab from the adjacent village in Galilee, hitched a ride with them. Until then, though neighbors, they didn’t meet. There was no hatred. Just disregard.
As the commander of the 20 soldiers in Nablus in the second intifada, he did meet many of them – in operations, and in many arrests which began to disturb his rest. A pivot moment came in February 2002. An armed Palestinian killed six soldiers and walked away unscratched. It didn’t take long for retaliation. Oren’s unit was told to kill all Palestinian police officers in a series of roadblocks in the West Bank. The word "revenge" was in the air, and Oren could not accept the military sense of vengeful acts. 15 armed Palestinian police were assassinated in this action.
Two months later, on Passover that year, there was a major attack in a hotel in Netanya. 30 Israelis were killed, 140 were wounded. Oren was called the army to participate in the counterattack. The order was to take over the cities of the West Bank. His unit conquered Nablus, which had been under great tension. The streets were too dangerous to move along in, and the army took over the houses.
One day, a shot sounded from the house where he sat with his troops. One of the soldiers shot at a Palestinian who dragged a body down the street. Oren insisted that regardless of the orders, he was not allowed to shoot the man. It was also the first time he thought about the struggle of the Palestinian as fighting bravely for their home, the same as the Israelis had fought for theirs 60 years earlier. At this point he realized he no longer believed in what he did. At the end of the operation he asked his superiors to find him a replacement.
The new insight hasn’t made his life easier. Many Israelis have difficulty understanding his point of view, and consider him a traitor. He is not looking for forgiveness, but asks for understanding. As he cannot forgive those who come to kill Jews in a suicide bombing, he does not expect forgiveness from the families of the dead Palestinian policemen.
He found solace in the establishment of a new group of CFP Nablus. Now he can visit Nablus freely.