My name is Tuli (Amit) Flint. I was born in 1967 in post-Six-Day-War-Jerusalem. At the age of 3, my parents and I moved to Holon, where I grew up until I was 14 years old. After that, I moved to the Negev, studying at Midreshet Gurion, an ecology-focused boarding school. At the same time, my family decided to move to the West Bank “to build a village”, as they called it; but practically, it was a settlement called Sha'arei Tikva.
Those were the days of peace with Egypt, Israel was turning Sinai back to the Egyptians, and I remember myself asking them if they didn’t fear being uprooted.
I guess I was an optimist.
I worked alongside Palestinians in building the settlement: I was a high-school student from the Negev trying to earn some money, and they were residents of the nearby villages (Azzun-Atma, Beit Amin, Khares and other villages), trying to make a living. Through work, I got to know them and their families.
When I was 18, I worked for about six months as a tour guide at the Ma'aleh Efraim Field School. I knew the Nablus area and the villages around it. These acquaintances made me think that maybe we could live together in the occupation as it is.
I thought it was all right.
Those were the years of the first Lebanon War and all my friends went into combat service. Naturally, as an Israeli-Jewish-Zionist, I wanted to contribute as much as possible and joined the Golani Brigade, an infantry combat brigade. I went to the paramedics' course and was a company medic. I fought and treated the casualties on both sides. I went to an officers' course and returned to Golani as a young officer.
During the first Intifada I was a platoon commander in Gaza. I received the order to "break hands and feet" which I’m glad to say I did not to follow, but I know of others who did.
I saw it with my own eyes, and did other things that I am ashamed of today.
I decided to stay in the army because I had an educational vision - I wanted to influence from within, so that things would be done humanely. I had been in the Occupied Territories many times and I had done everything that was required of me - arrests, roadblocks, and house demolitions in a way that I thought was humane and easier for the population. I believed in an "enlightened occupation".
I was wrong.
By the end of my service, I was a company commander and commanded 110 soldiers, in Lebanon, in the Occupied Territories and in Gaza. I finished my service, and studied a Bachelor’s of Social Work and a Masters in clinical practice. I began to focus on treating trauma and post-trauma, mainly in the context of war and terror. In the reserves I advanced in rank and during the Second Lebanon War I was already a deputy battalion commander and later a lieutenant colonel. I commanded 700 soldiers. I finished my role as a battalion commander and moved on to serve as a therapist.
The 2014 war in Gaza, a.k.a. Operation Protective Edge, shocked me. I saw up close the suffering of the soldiers and the Palestinians.
I re-discovered what I had known long ago: the eyes and gaze of the trauma victims are the same eyes and gaze on both sides. Broken eyes asking, and now what?I met soldiers with Moral Injury for whom I had no answers.There was not an individual event that pushed me to be an activist for equality and peace - it was a continuum of unnecessary suffering on both sides.
I joinedCombatants for Peace about two years ago. Currently, I am the Israeli coordinator for the Tel Aviv-Qalqilya group and soon I will become the Israeli General Coordinator for the movement.
Working with Palestinian fighters is healing my heart. For me, the movement is a bridge between being a fighter and being a man of equality and peace.