Caught in the Middle in Gaza
STEVE INSKEEP, host:
All this week we've been hearing a variety of perspectives from the Gaza Strip, and today we've reached Eldad Gal-Ed(ph). He's an Israeli who has spent all his life in Gaza, and he's there now with a civilian security force that's helping to keep the peace between Israeli troops and settlers.
Mr. Gal-Ed, welcome to the program.
Mr. ELDAD GAL-ED (Israeli): Thank you.
INSKEEP: Who put together this civilian security force, and how are you operating?
Mr. GAL-ED: The Ministry of Defense put together because we all know this place better than the army, because the unit's built from people from Gaza Strip.
INSKEEP: Can you describe one settlement where you've been busy this week and describe the situation that you've faced as you tried to follow this duty of keeping peace if possible between troops and settlers?
Mr. GAL-ED: Yesterday I was in Netzer Hazani, and there was a room that a few people decided to stay. And the army forces came and dragged them out. And I was there to protect the civilians from the army and ask the army and the commanders there to tell their people to don't use excessive force. And I ask the civilians to calm down and try to make it a more quiet evacuation. Even though that hurt me, because I'm a settler also, I don't want to see them get hurt.
INSKEEP: Was that difficult to do in that situation?
Mr. GAL-ED: Yes, of course. You want to lie on the ground with them and grab something so they can't take you away. But I look at that and I think to myself, if I won't be there, then no one will be.
INSKEEP: You said that your job in this settlement was to persuade soldiers not to be violent and also to persuade settlers not to be violent. Can you recall something you said to either side to encourage them not to let things get out of hand?
Mr. GAL-ED: Yes. I told the settlers--I told them, `Look, we're all on the same side eventually, and we need to live together afterwards.'
INSKEEP: One of the reasons we wanted to speak to you, Mr. Gal-Ed, is because we've also this week spoken with your sister, Dikla...
Mr. GAL-ED: Yes.
INSKEEP: ...earlier this week. She's a settler, too, and was deeply upset about the prospect of being asked to move. We spoke to her before the soldiers moved in. She wasn't sure if she was going to obey their order to leave or try to defy it.
Mr. GAL-ED: Yes.
INSKEEP: What did she do?
Mr. GAL-ED: My mother and my aunt and my sister and my little brother, after the almoshov(ph) went to the synagogue and pray, and they come back to the house and take all the last stuff they would need, put it in the car and drove away, because I told my mother, `Please, if you love me, take the things you need and drive away, because if a soldier or a police officer will come to evacuate you and lays a hand on you, I won't be responsible for my actions. So please, Mother, go. I don't want anyone to drag you away.'
INSKEEP: Your mother was with your sister.
Mr. GAL-ED: Yes.
INSKEEP: And your sister went along, too?
Mr. GAL-ED: Yeah, she did.
INSKEEP: Where are they all now?
Mr. GAL-ED: They are in Khafet Hayam(ph), in the motel.
INSKEEP: Outside of Gaza, of course.
Mr. GAL-ED: Outside, yes.
INSKEEP: Do you know where you will be and where your family will be a week from now, a month from now?
Mr. GAL-ED: No, I don't. Nobody tell us.
INSKEEP: When the evacuations are complete, will that end this episode, as far as you're concerned?
Mr. GAL-ED: This episode will never end. This is a wound that I will carry with me all my life. I don't know if it'll heal and become a scar. I think it will be an open wound in my heart for all my life.
INSKEEP: We've been speaking with Eldad Gal-Ed. He's working with a civilian security force in the Gaza Strip.
Mr. Gal-Ed, thanks very much.
Mr. GAL-ED: You're welcome.
INSKEEP: We're also following a story this morning where there was a rocket attack today. It was at the Red Sea port of Aqaba and one of three rockets barely missed a US Navy ship that was docked there. No Americans were hurt, but a Jordanian soldier was killed.
You're listening to MORNING EDITION from NPR News.