Bye, Gaza, Bye: Soldiers cheer as houses are bombed

Veteran activist Assaf Kintzer has put out the following video up on Youtube, saying it’s cellphone footage taken by IDF soldiers during operation Cast Lead:

The subtitles on the video sometimes work, sometimes not. Here’s my own transcription. Skip it if the subtitles do work.

[00:3o]

Soldier 1: “Now, now.”

[An explosion behind the first house on the right]

Soldier2: “Wow! Wow. Ya-alla (=oh my god). It’s the house [at the] back. It’s not that house.

[House on right explodes in a blaze].

Soldiers: Wow! Wahoo! Wow! Wow!

Soldier1: Bro, he want like two, one – bang! Wow. Bro, did you see the flames?

Soldier3: Everything’s filmed?..

Soldier 1: Everything’s documented, bro. Wow. What about the third house? The third house, please.  [giggles]. How they’re taking houses down in a second, it’s killing me.

Soldier 3: He went like two, one, bang! Then like two, one, bang.

Soldier 4: Can you hear that?

Soldier 1: Now.

Soldier 2: Ten seconds.

Soldier 1: Ten?

Soldier 4: How long?

Soldier 2: Four-three-two-one –

Soldier 1: There you go.

[House on the left explodes.]

Soldiers scream with delight: WOW! Yaow! So beautiful.

Soldier 1: There’s nothing like it [laughs.] Bye, Gaza, Bye. Wow, BRO! What a THING!

[Camera pans back, exposing two smiling faces in close up- presumably Soldier 1 and Soldier 2. ]

Soldier 1: We’re so small next to that. We’re so small compared to that.

In some ways, I think this is the video with the least controversial effect to have emerged over the past year – not least because we don’t know who or what was in the houses, because there’s fighting in the background, and the soldiers appear to be rather childishly fascinated with the explosions than gloating over the fate of the human beings who may or may not be inside the buildings. Nevertheless, it’s hard to ignore the chilling effect of all this merriment caused by all this destruction. Journalist Haggai Matar, who points out the soldiers belong to the Golani brigade, writes:

“The clip doesn’t show any particular achievement, any heroics. The soldiers are lying on their backs, languidly, laughing, filming… they’re just destroying. ‘Bye, Gaza, bye,” the cameraman says, joining a series of similar expressions said everywhere in that war, written on walls of occupied houses in the city, becoming an inseparable part of what happened here nearly two years ago. Part of the gloating, the passion for destruction. And all with a smile, with a laugh, and with childish joy. Assaf Kintzer was right to pick up this headline: It’s the banality of it all.”

And without diminishing the soldiers’ individual responsibility (it sounds like they’re calling the air strike), it’s also hard to disagree with them: They are “so small compared to all this.” This is why any criticism ignited by this video and footage that will come needs to be directed not only at the soldiers on the ground – but most importantly, to Kadima party, which stage-managed this and other acts of destruction,  but now has the audacity to pretend it is the peaceful alternative to Netanyahu.

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