In 1948 hundreds of thousands of Palestinians fled the war as Israeli forces depopulated and destroyed hundreds of Palestinian towns and villages to make way for their settlers arriving from Europe and to establish the Zionist state of Israel. The Palestinians who fled their ancestral land have not been allowed to return to their homes even after 60 years. Their homes and lands are now occupied by Israeli citizens. Those Palestinians are still refugees in neighboring countries and across the globe. They have formed the Palestinian Diaspora. But as tragic as that maybe, this is not the end of the story, those Palestinians who stayed inside their country’s borders have watched their lands being stolen by the Zionist regime. These rightful owners of the land who once enjoyed a prosperous life have experienced all hell break loose as the Zionist regime of Israel wages war after war on these defenseless people. The “The Aliya Battalion” is a documentary about Israel’s secret activities in targeting and terrorizing the civilian population in an effort to annihilate and eradicate the Palestinian nation. With interviews from the Palestinians and Israelis and members from the Aliya Battalion this eye opening documentary reveals what is really happening in Palestine.
TIME CODE: 00:00_05:00
Narration: Tonight Israeli ground forces are battling for the control of a hill, overlooking Gaza city and its sprawling refugee camp. In the streets of Jabaliya a small Israeli unit is already cleaning the path, minimizing the risks for tanks and soldiers.
SOUNDBITE [Arabic] First woman: “Get out of my way …”
SOUNDBITE [Arabic], Young girl: “Maher, wait for Mohammad, we can´t leave him by himself …”
SOUNDBITE [Arabic], First woman: “There are dead people here, why are you filming us, who is this footage for?”
Narration: This unit is not alone. Hidden in the darkness there is another weapon that can´t be seen by world’s eyes in Gaza.
SOUNDBITE [Arabic], Red Crescent Staff: “Arda, have you checked in the bathroom to see if there is anybody there?”
SOUNDBITE [Arabic], Red Crescent Staff: “There is nobody … Let’s get out of here.”
Narration: It’s not the first time that Israel uses this weapon against Palestinians. There are bad memories of other scary nights, when dead came directly through the darkness, crossing walls, doors and windows. In one of those nights Ibrahim’s son was shot in the head while sitting in his living room.
SOUNDBITE [Arabic], Red Crescent Staff: “He is a martyr, a martyr …”
Narration: Red Crescent took just a few minutes to arrive at the house and rescue Ibrahim’s son
SOUNDBITE [Arabic], Red Crescent Staff: “They are shooting at us … everybody get down.”
SOUNDBITE [Arabic], Man´s Voice speaking on the radio: “They’re shooting us from outside when we are trying to evacuate a martyr…”
SOUNDBITE [Arabic], Red Crescent Doctor: “Don’t get up…”
Narration: But Israel’s secret weapon disregards the laws of the war
SOUNDBITE [Arabic], Ibrahim: “My God, my God …”
SOUNDBITE [Arabic], Man’s Voice: “May God help you …”
SOUNDBITE [Arabic], Ibrahim: “My God, my God … Why this? God help us, please …”
SOUNDBITE [Arabic], Man’s Voice: “Brother, please, tell them to get him out of here …”
SOUNDBITE [Arabic], Ibrahim: “God help us out … God help us …
Please, at least get us out of the house, make this finish.”
TIME CODE: 05:00_10:00
Narration: This weapon hides in the darkness, lying in waiting for hours, even days, until it kills its target.
SOUNDBITE [Arabic], Man talking to Ibrahim: “Be patient …”
SOUNDBITE [Arabic], Ibrahim: “God, I trust in you …”
SOUNDBITE [Arabic], Red Crescent Staff: “Keep your head down … keep your head down.”
SOUNDBITE [Arabic], Red Crescent Staff: “Be very careful … Get down, let’s wait …”
SOUNDBITE [Arabic], Man’s voice: “Come on guys … shots …”
Narration: When this weapon kills someone is always an intended target, not just someone standing in the wrong place at the wrong time. With this weapon accidental killing and wounding is almost non-existent. It kills with delicacy and precision.
Rafah’s refugee camp, Gaza Strip, May 2003
Narration: James Miller, the award-winning British Documentarian was shooting a film about children caught in the crossfire of war. James Miller was shot in the neck and struck dead.
SOUNDBITE [Arabic], Unknown Man, Resident of Gaza Strip: “Is the tank still there?”
Gaza Strip, July 2007.
Narration: Imad Ghanem was covering the Israeli military incursion in the center of Gaza Strip.
SOUNDBITE [Arabic], Unknown Man, Resident of Gaza Strip: “Where is the help, for God sake …”
Narration: Wounded by a rocket’s blast, Ghanem was lying on the ground when he was shot at from an Israeli tank.Footage filmed by his colleagues shows him receiving two shots, one in each leg. Imad Ghanem was taken to the hospital where both of his legs were amputated.This is the story of Israel secret weapon that left Imad Ghanem seriously wounded, killed both Ibrahim’s son and James Miller, the same weapon that every single day kills and terrifies Palestinian farmers.
TIME CODE: 10:00_15:00
SOUNDBITE [Hebrew], Roman Ratner, Aliya Battalion’s Commander and Founder:“This is a war …”
SOUNDBITE [Hebrew], Roman Ratner, Aliya Battalion’s Commander and Founder:“… a natural war …”
SOUNDBITE [Hebrew], Roman Ratner, Aliya Battalion’s Commander and Founder:“Why those Arabs down there, those Burqa guys, why do they have to bother us all the time?”
SOUNDBITE [Hebrew], Roman Ratner, Aliya Battalion’s Commander and Founder: “The Bible was … The Torah … (sound of shot outside). It’s just a flare … Now, in the Torah, Arabs are not even mentioned.”
SOUNDBITE [Hebrew], Roman Ratner, Aliya Battalion’s Commander and Founder:“As long as the Arabs don’t understand that we will never leave, this war will continue.”
SOUNDBITE [Arabic], Journalist: “But this conflict has kept going for so many years now and it could carry on for centuries to come …”
SOUNDBITE [Hebrew], Roman Ratner, Aliya Battalion’s Commander and Founder: “This war will keep going for as long as it has to, it doesn’t matter. But, there is no way we are living!”
Narration: In 1948 the State of Israel was created and its borders defined. In 1967 Israel advanced to Palestinian territories, occupying more land beyond its previously defined borders.And the Jewish settlements in Palestinian land were born proving a roof to Jews coming from all around the world
SOUNDBITE [Hebrew], Jewish Settler (Ofra): “Living here we feel at ease, our minds are at rest. And this happens because we respect the rules of the settlement. This settlement is deeply religious, I could even say strongly religious. You have to respect the sacredness of Saturdays, no driving, etc. If you stick to this, you are accepted.”
SOUNDBITE [Russian], Irina, Russian Settler (Ofra): “People that come to live here are, you could say, pure, a masterpiece, call it as you wish… (Settler talking to the camera)Only the ones who have a strong religious lifestyle can live here.”
Narration: They came here following what they see as a sacred appeal. Settlers believe that they are preparing the path to the return of the Messiah.For the settlers this battle of the hills is an integral part of what they perceive as a sacred struggle against the Arabs for the biblical land of Israel.
SOUNDBITE [English], Irina, Russian Settler (Ofra): “It wasn’t a purely ideological decision “we are going to leave in a settlement”… It was a normal thing for us to do because we believe that this land is part of the land of Israel, just like everywhere else in Israel. It doesn’t make a difference for us if it’s in Telavive or in Ofra. It’s the same thing for us.”
SOUNDBITE [Russian], Oleg, Russian Settler (Ofra): “In the origins of this conflict is the fact that Arabs refuse any sort of compromise whatsoever, even in the smallest details. They are like this. We are even ready to give them a part of our land to achieve peace but they don’t want that. They want to take everything from us.”
Narration: Ofra located on the main road between Jerusalem and Nablus is viewed as a flagship of the Israeli settlement project. 48% of the settlement was built in private Palestinian land, where Mohammad’s olive trees once grew.
TIME CODE: 15:00_20:00
SOUNDBITE [English], Mohammad, Palestinian Owner of Ofra’s land: “We used to come here to pick up the harvest, we used to have fig trees or olive trees that we call holy trees, this olive trees were like our main food. Suddenly they came and said” if you come here again we kill you, we shoot you, we do something that you’ll not be happy about, you and your family. Look like either their way or no way. So, we brought lawyers, we asked to the lawyers and big bosses here but they told they can do nothing. It looks like they want to own not only our olive trees or our land but our lives.””
SOUNDBITE [English], Irina, Russian Settler (Ofra):“We are not here only for ourselves because if we are not here army can’t be here either … army is here not only to protect us, Army is here to protect Israel … (Russian settler talking to camera) And if we were not here … we believe that we are here to protect Israel, if we were not here, life would be impossible inside the rest of Israel.”
SOUNDBITE [Russian], Oleg, Russian Settler (Ofra): “That seems to be the case. For there to be peace, it’s going to have come from either them or us. Whilst we live together, there will always be war. When they think that we are more vulnerable their desire to attack us grows stronger and stronger. As far as I understand they have no idea about the meaning of the word compromise. It’s their mentality … If we take a step back; they will come and attack us once more. They don’t know the meaning of the sentence “reach a compromise”.
SOUNDBITE [English], Mohammad, Palestinian Owner of Ofra’s land: “There, next to those houses a little bit further, we had 5 acres of land where we had trees, fig trees. We can’t go there, we can’t even … look at them, we can say, we can’t even look at them because they took over everything. So, we can do nothing about.”
SOUNDBITE [Russian], Oleg, Russian Settler (Ofra): “The truth is that the Jewish mission is to give mankind a sense of moral postulate. This high psychological moral ground was born with us, and we carry it upon our shoulders. (Irina talking to camera) It can be seen by the way we take care of others.”
SOUNDBITE [Arabic], Ibrahim, Palestinian Owner of Ofra’s Land:
“I have more than 600 acres in the easterly part, adjacent to Ofra. The Jews don’t allow us to enter this area. Some of them will categorically prevent us from entering our land. Others will demand a permit. This permit can be issued only by Ofra’s Council of the Settlers … After presenting the petition they can either accept or deny it. As a result we can neither work nor harvest our land. It means, we can´t benefit from what’s ours. This is just a small example of what is going on here.”
SOUNDBITE [English], Irina, Russian Settler (Ofra): “They believe the honor is the most important thing that if a land once belongs to Islam it must always belong to Islam. And so Israel once belonged to Islam so it must go back to Islam, Spain once belonged to Islam, it must go back to Islam; Africa belonged to Islam it must go back to Islam … this is what they believe.”
SOUNDBITE [English], Journalist: “If it is so, if that is true, it means, Israeli people and Arabs will never find a common (Zoom into Irina’s face) point, a solution”
TIEM CODE: 20:00_25:00
SOUNDBITE [English], Irina, Russian Settler (Ofra): “… I believe that … I think that the only to have peace is, or a modus Vivendi, the only to have peace is when they give up hope of driving us out”
SOUNDBITE [English], Journalist: “Do you any hate in your heart towards that people …”
SOUNDBITE [Arabic], Ibrahim, Palestinian Owner of Ofra’s Land: “Hatred towards them has come as a result of them stealing our land. It’s normal to hate anybody who takes your belongings from you. They took our land from us and use it without our consent. And, on top of that they make life hell for us. So, it’s impossible to coexist in peace with them.”
SOUNDBITE [English], Irina, Russian Settler (Ofra): “You can’t turn around and say, if we treat them nice they will be nice. They won’t be nice, they have an agenda, they have a purpose and it’s not what we want … we want to live in peace.”
SOUNDBITE [Arabic], Ibrahim, Palestinian Owner of Ofra’s Land: “If both sides granted what they are entitled to, we could live in peace. It’s our land; we have documents that prove it. It belongs to us.”
SOUNDBITE [Russian], Oleg, Russian settler (Ofra): “Right now the Arab side is the strongest in this war … They are ready to starve but they never give up their goal of destroying us. That’s why, from a moral point of view, they are stronger than us. We have tanks and all that steel but it doesn’t mean that we will win this war.”
SOUNDBITE [English], Mohammad, Palestinian Owner of Ofra’s Land: “I can say right now, in a high voice … we need to get help to get our land back because life without land is no land”
VOXPOP [Hebrew], People: “Guys, let’s make a toast for all these years …”
“And let’s pray and ask God for a long life for our Battalion …”
“Usually I don’t drink but for such a toast I will make an exception.”
Narration: A vast majority of the Jewish settlers occupying Palestinian land came in the last 18 years from former Soviet Union republics. Among them are well trained snipers of the once most powerful army on earth, with a large military experience in the battlefields of Afghanistan, Chechnya and Yugoslavia. In September 2002 when the second Intifada was beginning, a new movement appeared in Israel, soldiers refusing to serve in the Palestinian territories. Roman Ratner, a Jewish settler, veteran of the Soviet paratroops, found here his opportunity to go back to the battlefields.
SOUNDBITE [Hebrew], Roman Ratner, Aliya Battalion’s Commander and Founder:“The final push came when some soldiers refused to serve in the territories, Israeli soldiers and officers refusing to serve in the Palestinian territories …”
“We went to the Israeli Prime Minister telling him that if they don’t want to serve we are ready to go forth …”
SOUNDBITE [Hebrew], Roman Ratner, Aliya Battalion’s Commander and Founder: “We see it as our duty!”
Narration: He made an appeal to all Russian settlers with military experience.Archive footage of Roman Ratner sitting in a radio studio.
SOUNDBITE [Hebrew], Roman Ratner, Aliya Battalion’s Commander and founder: “To all former officers of the Soviet Army, with combat experience in Afghanistan and Chechnya. We call upon you all to come and protect our cities and settlements …”
SOUNDBITE [Hebrew], Sasha, Aliya’s Battalion trainer: “Take your coats with you … put it in your bags.”
Narration: In May 2002 a new armed group was born in Israel. They are more than one thousand of well trained snipers, under the leadership of Roman Ratner, its name Aliya Battalion.
TIME CODE: 25:00_30:00
SOUNDBITE [Hebrew], Sasha, Aliya’s Battalion Trainer: “That’s a nice bag you’re carrying …”
SOUNDBITE [Hebrew], Olga, Aliya’s Battalion Sniper: “When I served in Lebanon I did it all the time, I took cold water baths …”
SOUNDBITE [Hebrew], Second Aliya’s Sniper: “That’s nothing. Snow baths are better.”
SOUNDBITE [Hebrew], Olga, Aliya’s Battalion Sniper: “Yes, in Ivanovo you can just go outside and take a “snow-bath” and it cleans your skin, you get baby skin”
Narration: Aliya is a term used to signify the calling of a Jew to read the Torah in the prayer service and also the ongoing religious recognition of the holy act of immigrating to the land of Israel.
SOUNDBITE [Hebrew], Sasha, Aliya’s Battalion Trainer Hurry up, our cars are nearly here …
SOUNDBITE [Hebrew], Olga, Aliya’s Battalion Sniper: “That’s wonderful! Sasha, are you being cynical? Look, this is my professional portrait. This is me 13 years ago …”
SOUNDBITE [Hebrew], Sasha, Aliya’s Battalion Trainer: “Why are you telling me this?”
SOUNDBITE [Hebrew], Second Aliya’s Sniper: “You’ve got me in a bad mood.”
SOUNDBITE [Hebrew], Sasha, Aliya’s Battalion Trainer: “Does that mean that you served in the Army for 5 years? I thought you were 18 years old.”
SOUNDBITE [Hebrew], Roman Ratner, Aliya Battalion’s Commander and founder: “Move in a single file. We are living now. Take your things, put them in the car, sit down and head to the operation field. You have 10 minutes for this exercise you have to be in the field in 10 minutes.”
Narration: Aliya Battalion was born to assure by all means possible the presence of the Jewish settlers on Palestinian land, keeping alive the dream of the first Zionists. But, the truth is that they have other missions that go far beyond the protection of the settlements.
SOUNDBITE [Hebrew], Roman Ratner, Aliya Battalion’s commander and founder: “The settlements should have their own means of self defense. The Arabs should know that any attacking attempt against us, our cars, our people, can prove lethal for them.”
SOUNDBITE [Hebrew], sounds Aliya’s Battalion Anthem: “Afghanistan is burning behind us … Chechnya and the Caucasus were left on fire … Today Hebron and Lebanon, the battle for life, the victory is ours …”
SOUNDBITE [Hebrew], Roman Ratner, Aliya Battalion’s Commander and Founder: “They have this way of thinking. We only get through to them when we strike them with all our strength … That’s their way of life. The Palestinian Autonomy is nothing without Israel. We own the electricity, the water, the gas, diesel, communication lines, even the medicines. (Talking to camera) Everything is ours, they have nothing.”
SOUNDBITE [Hebrew], Alexander’s Voice: “We don’t even need to enter their territory. Just block it and the problem is solved.”
SOUNDBITE [Hebrew], Roman Ratner, Aliya Battalion’s Commander and Founder: “We cut off their electricity and water supply and we don’t need to fight them. I am sure that anyone else would do the same. We have done it a couple of times: cut off the water, electricity, phone lines and gas and we wave them “Goodbye”
SOUNDBITE [Hebrew], Andrei, Aliya’s Battalion Sniper: “Each settlement has its own security plan. This security plan is elaborated by the chief of settlement’s security, together with the Army.That means that our actions are legitimate, as they agree with the security plan. In 2002 the Council of Settlers asked the Ministry of Defense to give us permission to protect the settlements.The Ministry gave us the green light and that’s what we do. Ok, but, your actions in Palestinian territory is not only a part of that security plan for the settlements. You are acting many Kms. Outside the settlements, going deep inside Palestinian territory. You are carrying out actions that have to be done by the Army, not you.”
TIME CODE: 30:00_35:00
SOUNDBITE [Hebrew], Andrei, Aliya’s Battalion Sniper: “I agree but, in this case it doesn’t matter how deep we go inside Palestinian territory. For example, in Ofra’s case, the security plan says that the protection of Ofra should start many Kms before the limits of the settlement, in what we call sector B, in sector B.”
SOUNDBITE [Hebrew], Journalist: “Your answers are very short … You say you act outside settlement. What does that mean?”
SOUNDBITE [Hebrew], Andrei, Aliya’s Battalion Sniper: “It means that we have a number of surveillance posts in the hills and that we have permanent patrols going around, sometimes we go 20 or more Kms. Inside Palestinian territories. It means, this territory is outside the settlement limits but we must do it.”
SOUNDBITE [Hebrew], Journalist: “And there were some real attempts from the Palestinian side to enter Ofra or, due to your presence those terrorists were so afraid …”
SOUNDBITE [Hebrew], Andrei, Aliya’s Battalion Sniper: “The truth is that, since we have been protecting the settlement, there have been no attempts to enter the settlement.”
SOUNDBITE [Hebrew], Journalist: “Does that mean they are afraid of you?”
SOUNDBITE [Hebrew], Andrei, Aliya’s Battalion Sniper: “We like to think they are afraid.”
Narration: Plenty is written about Palestinian attacks on Israeli targets.
SOUNDBITE [Arabic], Unknown Woman, Local Resident: “That’s a sin … they are cruel … Look what they have done. We lost our belongings, all our savings … Even the clothes…”
Narration: Plenty is written about Israel’s army attacks on Palestinian targets. Very little is written about an insidious kind of violence that anyone should be hard pressed to distinguish from terrorism: Israel’s settler’s attacks on Palestinian civilians.
SOUNDBITE [Hebrew], Jewish Woman: “Get in the house.”
SOUNDBITE [Arabic], Palestinian Woman: “I won’t close the door!”
SOUNDBITE [Hebrew], Jewish Woman: “Close it! Trying to close the door of Palestinian’s woman house and saying “Close the door”
SOUNDBITE [Arabic], Palestinian Woman: “Stay out of this! I am not closing the door”
SOUNDBITE [Hebrew], Jewish Woman: “Sit here, in the cage”
SOUNDBITE [Arabic], Palestinian Woman: “I don’t want to go inside!”
SOUNDBITE [Hebrew], Jewish Woman: “Close it! Get the camera out of here!”
SOUNDBITE [Arabic], Palestinian Woman: “Call the police!”
SOUNDBITE [Hebrew], Jewish Woman: “Turn the camera off!”
SOUNDBITE [Arabic], Palestinian Woman: “It’s early in the morning, what do you want from us? Don’t you soldier see what she is doing?”
SOUNDBITE [Hebrew], Jewish Woman: “Whore …”
SOUNDBITE [Arabic], Palestinian Woman: “You are! Go away!”
SOUNDBITE [Hebrew], Jewish Woman: “Whore …”
SOUNDBITE [Arabic], Palestinian Woman: “Don’t you see what she did?”
SOUNDBITE [Hebrew], Jewish Woman: “Whore … you are a whore, your daughters too!”
SOUNDBITE [Arabic], Palestinian Woman: “Don’t you dare to open the door and come here …”
SOUNDBITE [Hebrew], Jewish Woman: “Whore …”
SOUNDBITE [Arabic], Palestinian Woman: “Leave us alone! Soldier, do you see what she’s doing?”
Narration: With Aliya Battalion of settler’s violence against Palestinian civilians, begin across West bank towns and villages. The Aliya Battalion foundation was sponsored by Israel’s right wing.
SOUNDBITE [Hebrew], Roman Ratner, Aliya Battalion’s Commander and Founder: “In what concerns politics we have the support of the right, not the left wing parties … It’s normal! The left wing parties argue that we have to leave the settlements. You have to be absolutely … left wing, for saying something, to have that point of view that settlers should leave in this situation, when we are surrounded by Palestinians, a gang of bandits.”
Narration: These pictures were taken in May 2002, the day when Aliya’s Battalion was officially launched.
TIME CODE: 35:00_40:00
SOUNDBITE [Hebrew], Roman Ratner, Aliya Battalion’s Commander and Founder: “Today, 6th of May 2002 will do down in history as the ay that Aliya’s Battalion was founded.”
Narration: Roman Ratner had behind him posters of “Israel our Home” , a right wing movement formed by Avigdor Leibermman, to create a platform for Russian immigrants who support a hard standing in the negotiations with Palestinian Authority.Seven years later “Israel Our Home” joined the right wing coalition governing Israel. Liebermman, a settler from the former Soviet Union was appointed Israel’s Minister of Foreign Affairs.In these pictures we can see Roman Ratner assisting a Knesset commission meeting headed by Avigdor Liebermman.
SOUNDBITE [Hebrew], Avigdor Liebermman, Minister Foreign Affairs Israel: “In one way or another Russian Aliya helped this coalition to be elected. It’s difficult to imagine that this coalition could have been elected without our votes …Please, can you close the door, if you don’t mind? I believe that if we are willing to fight till the end with this matter, the Coalition will have no other choice but to give us what we are demanding. If we stand firm, government will have no other choice than to support us or lose the votes of the Russian deputies and the opportunity of getting its Budget approved.”
Narration: In this video founded in Aliya’s Battalion archive we can see Israeli Police Officers honoring Aliya’s snipers for their actions in Palestinian territories. In the same ceremony, new missions were given to the group
SOUNDBITE [Hebrew], Aliya’s Battalion 2nd Commander Speech: “We have increased the amount of personnel in the Battalion. As a result we now have to undertake numerous new missions and thus have more responsibilities. Our plan is to length our work radius to the city of Haifa and then to the whole northern region.”
Narration: In the northern part of Israel lies the border with southern Lebanon.These photos shows a remembrance of the day when Aliya Battalion received weapons directly from Israeli ArmyTo the outside world they present themselves as a social organization, helping with the integration of Russian Jews in Israeli society. But what we are about to see probes that Aliya Battalion has nothing to do with an NGO.
SOUNDBITE [Hebrew], Voice of a Man from Inside the Van: “Life here is very hard, there is nothing to do. The only way you can stand it is by drinking vodka all day …”
SOUNDBITE [Hebrew], Serguei Kulikov, 3rd Commander of Aliya Battalion: “First of all, you must strictly follow your commander’s orders. Listen carefully to your commander’s orders.”
SOUNDBITE [Hebrew], Sasha, Aliya’s Battalion Trainer:“I want to talk to you about the M16 because the last time you seemed to have some difficulties using this weapon … For those who already know how to use it, this will serve to refresh your memory. The rest of you will learn … When you’re walking keep the muzzle pointing down … You have to hold it like this. Not like this … not like this either. You have to carry your weapon like this … doesn’t put your hand here because, if you have to grab something from the ground … This is the correct way of carrying your weapon …”
SOUNDBITE [Hebrew], Sasha, Aliya’s Battalion Trainer: “I really miss being in the Army … I wish I could be a soldier again but that’s no longer an option. Patriotism is secondary … somebody has to do it. I was born with a gun in my hands, whether it’s an M16 or any other weapon. That’s all I know how to do. I am working as a security guard in a warehouse at the moment but I’m not made for this job. I do this job to put food on the table and for the good of Israel but I was born to be a soldier .I want to run with a weapon in my hands.”
TIME CODE: 40:00_45:00
SOUNDBITE [Hebrew], Olga, Aliya’s Battalion Sniper: “I’ve always been a soldier. I’ve never had any other job. I find it very interesting and, at the same time, I can help my country … Israel, I mean. My area of expertise in the Army was the security and transport of Armament and other secret cargo, like explosives …”
SOUNDBITE [Hebrew], Sasha, Aliya’s Battalion Trainer: “I am the number two. Olga, you are the number one. Keep a distance of 10 meters between each other, at least 10 meter … This is the correct distance, between 7 and 10 meters. You will have a better visual field … an excellent visual field. Even if it is at night you will have no trouble. Why? Because even if the enemy spots you both, with a distance of 10 meters between the two of you it will be almost impossible for him to kill you both.”
SOUNDBITE [Hebrew], Olga, Aliya’s Battalion Sniper: “The Arabs are, I could say, our blood enemies. They always have been … It’s a matter of intuition, they are and will always be our enemies.”
SOUNDBITE [Hebrew], Sasha, Aliya’s Battalion Trainer: “You have to move like this … You should walk very slowly, trying not to be noticed because at night the hills are very silent and you will find a lot of stones in your way. You should place your heel on the ground first and then the rest of your foot. Just like this. Let your colleagues know that you are moving towards them. Tell them “we are heading in your direction. They have been cases when we were not alerted and they were walking, talking and smoking and we thought they were Arabs. Here it’s like in Afghanistan, during the daytime they are farmers, shepherds and, at night time…they shoot at us. Our mission is not to take them alive and detain them. Our mission is to annihilate them.”
SOUNDBITE [Hebrew], Olga, Aliya’s Battalion Sniper: ““Our government tries it, with the help of the United States … our older brother … It tries to solve this peacefully, and it really makes an effort to achieve peace. Sure, sometimes they try it in a peaceful manner, other times using force. The problem is that the Arabs understand neither of these methods.”
SOUNDBITE [Hebrew], Sasha, Aliya’s Battalion Trainer: “Make them understand that you mean business. This sound is very recognizable at night … (taking the security of his weapon) If even then they don’t get it, take the next step, shoot first at their upper body and then their legs. Shoot at their legs … It doesn’t matter whether it’s at the knees or another part … If this doesn’t work and he makes a move that you judge as aggressive, shoot to kill. If you judge that he is doing something that puts your life at risk, for example, if he shouts out “Allah is great” or he tries to pull out something from his jacket or escape … I am sure you can tell when he is behaving aggressively, it’s pretty easy to judge that … In that case, shoot to kill! Keep him always at gunpoint … grab your walkie, it’s best if it’s one of your colleagues that speaks Hebrew well so you’re easily understood … If any of you don’t know Hebrew, speak in Russian, contact with whoever necessary. You must always contact Ofra first. They will decide what to do with him, whether they come here to take him or whether to let him go. If you have him standing make him put his hands behind his head. Never make him kneel down at nighttime … on his knees he would be like a little mouse that’s impossible to keep an eye on. Turn him round so he can’t see you, put his hands behind his head, pull up his shirt to make sure he has no hidden explosives”
- SOUNDBITE [Hebrew], Sasha, Aliya’s Battalion Trainer: “No, no, you force him to do it. If he doesn’t want to, shoot him in the legs, anywhere. What’s important is that you adopt a serious attitude, shoot him in the knees if necessary. What would be ideal is that when he lifts up his shirt, he covers his head with it so that he can’t see anything. Force him to pull down his trousers as he might have something hidden underneath … What’s important is that you feel completely at ease and that he feels completely uneasy.”
- TIME CODE: 45:00_50:00
- SOUNDBITE [Hebrew], Roman Ratner, Aliya Battalion’s Commander and Founder: “Stop firing! Put the safety catch on! All of you get ready in the line of fire! …6, 7, 8……4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9…”
- SOUNDBITE [Hebrew], Aliya Sniper Talking to a Group of Snipers: “Out of 3 shots, I hit the target twice …”
- SOUNDBITE [Hebrew], Second Sniper: “I see the bullet holes but I don’t know whose they are …”
- SOUNDBITE [Hebrew], First Sniper: “I shot 3 times, two of which were head-shots …”
- SOUNDBITE [Arabic], Ibrahim Husary, Palestinian Cameraman: “I was on the roof, filming everything that was happening. We were broadcasting for the whole world, everybody was aware of what was going on in Palestine.As far as I can judge, they located my whereabouts because of the images being transmitted live and they were able to find my specific location in the building. The Army was everywhere, surrounding us and the Ramattan’s TV headquarters. I was very well hidden but, despite that, they were able to spot the camera. When I’d just being ordered to stop filming they fired violently toward me and my camera. This was no coincidence. The fact that my camera received seven shots was no mistake. Completely the opposite, my camera was an intended target. It’s pretty clear that there was a well-positioned sniper that shot straight at me, to stop the coverage of what was happening in Palestine.”
- Narration: In the evening of December the 3rd 2001 Israeli Military forces launched an offensive against Palestinian President Yasser Arafat. 3 months later Israel intensified its offensive, surrounding Arafat’s headquarters in Ramallah. For 3 years Arafat and his aides have been held captive in the destroyed compound. At that time Ibrahim Husary was behind a camera, pointed at the Palestinian headquarters and his pictures were sent by Ramattan TV to many channels around the world. Ibrahim still keeps a living memory of the day that Aliya snipers noticed his whereabouts.
- SOUNDBITE [Arabic], Ibrahim Husary, Palestinian Cameraman: “I usually carry my camera like this and you can perfectly see from the bullet holes that the shots were being aimed at my head. But that day, I had the camera on the tripod. Even when we have it on the tripod we usually film like this … But I was perfectly aware of what was happening. There was very intensive fire so I cautious, I put the camera on the tripod, put the viewfinder like this and I lay down on the ground and start filming like this … I think that’s what saved my life”
- Narration: 12th of July 2006 Israel opened a new war front with Lebanese Hezbollah. 12 days later Israel launched a ground offensive against the southern Lebanese town of Bint Jbeil, regarded as the Hezbollah stronghold. The mission was taken by Golani brigade known for its aggressive behavior and abuses in the West Bank and Gaza warfronts.
- TIME CODE: 50:00_55:00
- Narration: During the first attempt to enter Bint Jbeil Golani fighters suffered a serious blow and had to retreat. Days later they did a second and successful attempt, backed by Aliya’s Battalion snipers.
- SOUNDBITE [Hebrew], Journalist: “What do you feel about those people on the other side?”
- SOUNDBITE [Hebrew], Misha, Aliya Sniper Arriving from Lebanon:
- “Hatred … Mohammad, Qu’ran … I think that none of them have ever opened a sacred book. Their goal is to destroy the State of Israel and they are always talking about it, they don’t care how … It’s obvious why I hate them.”
- SOUNDBITE [Hebrew], Dimitri, Aliya Sniper Arriving from Lebanon: “They all know that they are going to die, but they have only one goal: kill as many of us as possible, even knowing that they will not survive. But that’s what they want because life means nothing to them.”
- SOUNDBITE [Hebrew], Journalist: “Are they difficult enemies?”
- SOUNDBITE [Hebrew], Dimitri, Aliya Sniper Arriving from Lebanon: “Yes, they are difficult enemies, without a doubt but there is no other option.”
- SOUNDBITE [Hebrew], Journalist: “How many of them have you killed?”
- SOUNDBITE [Hebrew], Dimitri, Aliya Sniper Arriving from Lebanon: “I don’t want to answer this question … I’m not proud of myself when I kill and I try not to think about that as when I kill I do it to save the lives of my family and friends that live in cities like Haifa and the surroundings. I don’t want to talk anymore about this.”
- SOUNDBITE [Hebrew], Aliya Sniper: “In can confirm that our Battalion sent a small unit of snipers to Gaza with a specific goal …”
- Narration: After an intensive air campaign, Israel moved its ground forces into the Gaza Strip. Khouza is a small village in the southeast of the Gaza Strip, just few meters away from the fence that separates Gaza from Israel. On January the 12th the Golani Brigade entered Khouza. Aliya snipers were called up for duty once more; Man’s hands;
- SOUNDBITE [Arabic], Nasser Al Najjar, Husband of Martyr Ruahiya: “My name is Nasser Salman Al Najar, from Khouza, husband to the martyr Ruahiya Salman Najar. On the 12th of January, Israeli tanks started shelling our village. Of course they used phosphorus shells and all kinds of weapons to destroy our houses. I’d never seen such a bombing like that before … of course they used phosphorus shells and all kinds of weapons to destroy our houses. I’d never seen such a bombing like that before …”
- SOUNDBITE [Arabic], Khouza Resident: “There are always snipers backing the Israeli Special Forces. This time they came exclusively to kill civilians. In Ruahia’s case there is no doubt she was a civilian, holding a white flag, trying to survive. And despite that they shot her in the head.”
- SOUNDBITE [Hebrew], Aliya Sniper (Protected Identity): “There are documents that prove that we were in Gaza, how we behaved, what our actions were and how we carried them out. These documents exist, they are real …”
- SOUNDBITE [Arabic], Ruahia’s Daughter: “When started hearing the rumbling of the tanks and the sound of shots being fired …”
- TIME CODE: 55:00_01:01:00
- SOUNDBITE [Hebrew], Aliya Sniper (Protected Identity): “We received a call warning us not to leave the house because the village was full of snipers. We locked ourselves in a room and daylight came whilst we listened the shots being fired outside.”
- SOUNDBITE [Arabic], Aliya Sniper That Served In Gaza (Protected Identity): “We worked hard and carried out our mission as planned.”
SOUNDBITE [Arabic], Nasser Al Najjar, Husband of Martyr Ruahiya: “The Israeli Army ordered us from the loudspeakers to leave our houses and head to the city center. We didn’t know that there were snipers already positioned in some houses. Rauhia left the house with her daughter in her arms, waving a white flag and followed by more than 20 women. All very frightened and nervous … All of a sudden a scumbag Zionist sniper that respects neither the laws of war or white flags shot Ruahia in the head while she was carrying her baby in her arms.”
SOUNDBITE [Arabic], Aliya Sniper That Served In Gaza (Protected Identity): “I confirm that we signed a contract that we were paid to be there. We did it to earn a bit more money … Some of us needed that money to survive. I personally know why I went to Gaza, I needed that money.”
SOUNDBITE [Arabic], Ruahia’s Friend: “At this point we noticed snipers in that house that you can see at the end of the street. I saw one going down the stairs. When we reached the point where that stone is he stopped and gazed at us. And despite the fact that there were women and children waving white flags, the soldier started shooting at us right at this spot. At that point I thought he was telling me to come over … I hadn’t even taken the first step when I saw Ruahia fall to the ground covered in blood …”
SOUNDBITE [Arabic], Ruahia’s Daughter: “This is the place where my mother felt. Her head was here and the rest of her body spread out like this. A neighbor came to try and help her they saw her and shot her in the leg. My mother was left lying here more than 12 hours, from 8 in the morning till 8 at night and we weren’t able to rescue the body until the Israel withdrawal.”
SOUNDBITE [Arabic], Nasser Al Najjar, Husband of Martyr Ruahiya: “This innocent child lost her mother … She was left being an orphan.”
Narration: Israel’s secret weapon went back to Gaza again, spreading death and terror. Khouza suffered the last Israeli attack on Gaza until the last day of the war. It was just the end of another chapter of the same never ending story.
- SOUNDBITE [Hebrew], Olga, Aliya’s Battalion Sniper: “All that, all that over there, all those fields … we have to check it. We should go there and see what they’re hiding. There seems to be some strange lights coming from there. Look Vadim, that’s the Arab village over there. There is a kind of building … That’s where the Arab territory starts. There is a kind of border over there. This trail finishes right there where there is a stone wall that doesn’t let you pass. But we’ve managed to enter their territory. We found there an odd structure covered up on both sides. I think they are up to no good there … I don’t know.”
- SOUNDBITE [Hebrew], Volodia, Aliya Sniper: “It’s a kind of hut … Getting in there looks hard.”
- SOUNDBITE [Hebrew], Olga, Aliya’s Battalion Sniper: “We almost managed to get in there but … We were very close. We were less than 20 meters away from them. Is dangerous but … my daughter doesn’t understand what I do yet but when she grows up she will understand as she will also join the Army.”