On the 6th of March, the Israeli newspaper Haaretz published the chillingly direct testimony of six snipers out to break the “knee record” as they targeted Palestinian protestors in Gaza’s Great Return March. As both a paramedic and a participant in the protests, I feel obliged to respond to the “star” of the feature, an Israeli soldier named Eden:
“I kept the casing of every round I fired; I have them in my room,” you told the Haaretz reporter. “So, I don’t have to make an estimate – I know: 52 definite hits.” I remember the day you describe. It was May 14, 2018, the day I decided to transition from being a part-time protester and part-time first-aid responder to a dedicated paramedic. The first time I demonstrated, on March 30, the day the protests kicked off, I went because I believed in international law and human rights. I idealistically thought that if we demanded our right to return to our ancestral homelands peacefully, on the basis of U.N. resolutions, we would gain it—or, if not, Israel would be condemned. Instead, I witnessed many blatant human rights violations with my own eyes—including civilians getting sniped and killed, like the young man standing at least half a mile (900 meters) from the border fence, speaking to someone by an ambulance, when he was shot in the head. He died immediately. That was the first time I’d seen someone die in front of me.
And then came May 14, when the snipers all opened fire at once. It was a mass shooting and hundreds around me dropped to the ground, injured. I had been trained as a volunteer first-aid responder and when I received an emergency call from the PRCS (Palestinian Red Crescent Society), I responded immediately. That’s actually when I stopped believing in the ability of the U.N. and the so-called international community to push for our justice. I stopped demonstrating and devoted myself full time to serving as a paramedic for those you injured. Although I had trained as a dentist, not a physician, field training was offered in skills such as staunching the flow of bleeding.