Personal stories Maia Hascal

    Maia Hascal

    Tel Aviv

    As a social worker in the second Lebanon war, Maia had close contact with residents in their shelters as well as with South Lebanon Army members who came into Israel. She saw them all. She also saw the various petitions against conscientious objectors that began circulating.

    Maia, aware of the great difficulties facing soldiers in the Territories, did not consider objection a worthy solution. She thought that individual objection further burdens the soldier who is serving and already struggling. When reserves duty was offered to her, she enlisted.

    Maia spent 21 days — a trauma she will never forget — at a strategic post between an access road to a small Palestinian village, and another road for military and settler use only.

    She remembers every detail of the fateful shift: exactly where she stood, the 60 year old reserve volunteer who came to replace her, and how she was just about to get into the shower at 01:00 when she heard gun shots… not singles, but automatic.

    The older reservist apparently noticed a Palestinian on his way to the village, panicked and pulled the trigger. The Palestinian did not stand a chance. He was killed instantly.

    In the chaos that followed, the older reservist, who was almost her father’s age, gave a false statement. When Maia dared to say that the incident needed to be reported truthfully, she was chided and called a “traitor.” She was asked, “How can you talk like that about someone your father’s age?!”

    That was the moment her innocence began to crack. Her faith that the Israeli army only ever acted according to ethical standards was now challenged, and she no longer believed that humanity could be preserved during difficult times.

    When she returned to her “normal” life, nothing was normal. Memorial ceremonies were particularly difficult, as she not only felt betrayed by the state, but also felt like a traitor herself for speaking the truth.

    Maia found relief in Combatants for Peace’s joint Memorial Day Ceremony; there she told her story freely, and there she found people who could listen, accept and forgive. She has been a member of Combatants for Peace ever since.