By Yahya Mahamid
Serving on the border between Israel and Gaza, Yahya Mahamid – an Arab Muslim soldier – writes this eyewitness account of what it is like to stare down the rioters that Hamas have encouraged to break through the border. These riots have been taking place since March 2018.
Sitting with my back to the metal barrier, I take a second to adjust my helmet when all of a sudden, I hear a loud bang against the barrier.
It has started. The weekly Friday riots on the Gaza border.
I adjust my Kevlar vest, take a breath and stand up to take a look at the other side – all while trying to keep as much of my body under cover.
I am shocked to see mothers going hand and hand with their children. Yes, these are children that are not older than 10 -13 years of age, coming to the weekly protest as if it were a normal Friday activity.
Our orders are clear. Respect human life and the purity of our arms. This is nothing new – after all it is the IDF Code of Ethics that we abide by and that’s how we always operate.
I take my sharpshooter scope and start scanning the crowds looking for anything that looks suspicious such as bombs and guns. While looking through my scope, I start smelling the familiar smell of burned tires. I know that tear gas will soon follow so I put on my gas mask and look at the madness that is assembling in front of my eyes.
The adults, who I assume are mothers and fathers, sit on the green grass hill enjoying some cold drinks and snacks, while their kids are running towards the security fence, throwing rocks and anything they can get their hands on at us soldiers.
One rock hit the barrier.
I take cover after another rock hits the barrier again. I could have sworn that these rocks travel almost as fast as my bullet. I adjust my protective glasses and take another peak; we can’t have the security barrier getting damaged. This could have disastrous ramifications.
The violence is escalating.
I stand up again to take a look at the crowd that’s growing like a hate tumor on steroids and suddenly I hear an explosion. I look through my scope again, while looking through the black and grey crowd.
I see him.
He is sitting, dressed in a large blue hoodie, looking straight at me. I take a look at him through my scope to get a closer look and he is just sitting there, looking straight at me like he’s staring into my soul. He’s not older than 10 years old.
I will never forget the look on his face, like he has a million questions on his mind, not reacting to the screams, tear gas, burned tires and the electrified atmosphere that is filled with anger.
He just sits there, looking at me like he wants to ask me “when this madness will end?”
I look at him, wave, and give him the OK sign, hoping to make my first Gazan friend.
Maybe something positive can come out of this ugliness.
He gets up and gives me an innocent smile and waves. I smile back. Another bomb follows immediately after – above us this time and we are told to retreat behind cover.
I don’t see him again, but I hope the situation will improve for both of us one day.
I call him Little Blue Hood.
About the author:
Yahya Mahamid is a former educator for Stand With Us. This self-described “Muslim Arab Zionist” currently serves in the IDF.