Nathan Landau 

Kiryat Anavim
When I look back today at my encounter with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, I think
that most of my childhood was sterile in a sense: I saw Palestinians in the Old City
market and in the news, or from time to time someone on the street was renovating a
house.

However, over the years there have been several points at which the conflict broke
into my peaceful life: attacks that took place in Jerusalem, and acquaintance with
friends who knew grief more intimately.

Being drafted to the army was, for me, a stage that placed me far more directly in the
face of the conflict. The characters you see on television become people you arrest,
and I found myself almost every night arresting people in Nablus, Jenin, and the
surrounding area.

Our routine was operating at night, almost every night,  then sleep in the morning,
and by noon we received a new order about a guy who had to be arrested and
removed from his house. Almost every night the story was similar; but the general
feeling was that I was doing something that could save my family at home.

If I try to put my finger on an event that cracked something in me, it was one of the
operations we did in the Nablus area. During the operation, we entered a family's
home, and while the snipers settled in front of the windows, my job was to guard the
family. It must have been around 4AM, and I was standing with a gun and a helmet
on my head, in front of a family in their pajamas, and in a moment —  one of the little
children wet his pants.

It was the kind of moment that everyone prefers not to be present in – neither I, nor
the parents and the child who was too old to wet his pants; but this situation threw
him off balance.

On the way back to the base that night I thought a bit about this boy, and who he
would grow up to be. I could not help but think about this endless cycle of violence,
and about the boy who wants to take revenge, and my son who might be on his way
to arrest him in a few years.

It's been a decade since I finished my service and that boy is probably 18 now. I see
his face every time I meet with a group of young Israelis who come on a tour with
CfP and are a moment before conscription.
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