The turning point in Maia Hascal’s worldview was during the second Lebanon war. As a social worker, she had close contact with residents in their shelters and South Lebanon Army members who came into Israel — she saw them all; and then various petitions against conscientious objectors began circulating. Maia, aware of the great difficulties facing soldiers in the Territories, did not consider objection a worthy solution — on the contrary. She thought that individual objection further burdens the soldier who is serving and is already struggling. When it was offered to her, she enlisted for reserves duty.
Maia spent 21 days — which she remembers as a trauma that will not disappear — 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 that fateful shift — where she stood exactly, the 60 year old reserves volunteer who came to replace her, and how she was just about to get into the shower at 01:00 when she suddenly heard gun shots — not singles, but on automatic.
The older reservist apparently noticed a Palestinian on his way to the village, panicked and pulled the trigger of a weapon that the Palestinian did not stand a chance against. He was killed instantly. In the chaos that followed, the older reservist — almost her father’s age — gave a false statement. When Maia dared to say that the incident needed to be reported, she was chided as if she were a traitor and a little strange, and how could she talk like that about someone of her father’s age?
That was the moment that her innocence began to crack. Her faith that the IDF only ever acted according to ethical standards was undermined, and she no longer believed that humanity can be preserved during difficult times. According to her, the situation succeeded in destroying the simple thinking mechanism whereby a man was killed that night and someone needed to answer for it.
When she returned to her “normal” life, nothing was normal. Memorial ceremonies were particularly difficult as she felt betrayed by the state and a traitor herself, at the expense of her truth. Maia found relief in Combatants for Peace’s joint memorial ceremony — there she could tell her story, and there would be those who would include it and also forgive it, and she has felt a part of this great thing ever since.