I was a 20 years old soldier, towards the last year of his military service. As a combat soldier, I was positioned with my unit in every godforsaken place on the Israeli borders – from north to south, east to west. At that particular time, I was positioned along the border between Israel and the Palestinian west bank, near the city of Jenin. My platoons’ duty varied from home base guarding all day long, to spotted anti-terror activities, to guarding around the actual border to standing in a check-point, examining the Palestinian population wished to enter Israel for a visit or work, and to make sure they don’t carry any weapon or explosives on them. Due to the long and rich history of the place, being a terror nest, our activity was crucial and important and everyone was a potential suspect in terrorism – man, women, children and elderly. Many times terrorists took over ambulances entering Israeli hospitals to carry out explosives for terror attacks.
She was a 20-something year old Palestinian girl from Jenin, speaking fluent Hebrew, looking well educated.
It was 15:00 in a hot summer day, after sleepless night full with activities. We carried a 3 kilos weapon; 10 kilos well geared vest, a helmet and a 15 kilos ceramic ballistic vest.
She claimed she forgot her “tasrich” – entering permission back home. I refused to let her in. She said she have to go to work in Afula (an Israeli city close to the border). She was stubborn and behind her there were about 50 people waiting. I was worm, frustrated and tired and for some reason I didn’t believe her. I always tried to we as nice as I can, but at some point I just lost it, I became agitated. I rudely told her to get back home and get her ID if she wants to enter the checkpoint. She probably got scared and started to cry and left.
I kept thinking about her for a long time. It’s not that I felt powerful as a soldier in front of her, having the possibility to decide if she enters or not. It just happened.
I would like to say to her now – I’m sorry.
I’m sorry I didn’t do my best to check about your background and let you in.
I’m sorry I was impatient to your needs as well.
I’m sorry you felt scared by me, I’m sorry I made you cry.
I’m sorry that just because I’m on one side of the border and you’re on the other side, I had the power to decide on you.
I’m sorry parts of your people made me think along the years that you are all the same. Now I know it’s not so.
I’m sorry you remember that day as much as I do, I’m sorry you probably being through it before me and probably after me.
I hope your people and my people could once live side by side, if not as friends, but not as enemies nevertheless.