Ok basically I am getting nowhere writing my book so I have decided to divide up what I have written and publicise it as a series of posts here on Marc's Words. Perhaps the praise will encourage me to get on with the rest or the criticism will convince me to knock the whole thing on the head. The book is an auto-biographical account of my service in the IDF during the Second Intifada. (2002-4)
This is the first couple of pages:
This is the first couple of pages:
FIRE IN ANGER
It was the flash of white light followed by an ear splitting boom that made me think I had been killed. That brilliant white light had utterly engulfed me, the noise had left a steady, high pitched whine in my ears. I couldn’t see anything through the thick cloud of dust that had been thrown up into the air. I thought of Forest, he had been smiling at me as if to say “Don’t worry”. A moment later the light had consumed him. Light from a nearby lamppost slowly filtered through the dust and smoke that had been so rudely thrust into the air around me. Slowly shadowy silhouettes of my friends appeared out of the gloom. One by one they shouted out their names followed by okay; “Knife ok, Snake ok, Bull ok”. Their voices pulled me out of the shock that had engulfed me. I ran my hands over my body, feeling for blood in the dark.
When I didn’t find any injuries I patted myself down again, certain that I hadn't escaped unharmed. My attention was inevitably drawn to my left to look for Forest, my gaze set upon a shadowy figure, shouting; “Forest okay”. How could he possibly have been okay? I had watched him disappear. I chimed in with my own “Marc okay”, still not quite believing it. The Major stepped out of his Jeep and conferred with the two officers responsible for the teams under his command. Satisfied that everything was in fact okay he simply said, “Get moving we’re already behind schedule.” Apparently a booby trap blowing up in the middle of his men wasn’t a good enough reason to delay a mission, carrying on was the last thing I wanted to do but no one asked me for my opinion.
We moved forward no more than a few more meters before stopping once again. Adam, the officer of Team 1, was looking at an Improvised Explosive Device further into the alleyway. He threw a grenade at it but the explosion failed to detonate it, he threw another but was met with the same result. The Major ordered us all back to the vehicles for a rethink. No sooner had we entered the vehicle than I could hear his monotonous voice over the radio: “Team 2 are to join the observation team; Team 1 are to remain in their vehicles.” As an afterthought he ordered the first team’s driver to rev the engine to keep anyone watching on their toes.
With our orders received Druker put our armoured car into gear and turned it around. He drove several hundred meters to the building that an observation squad of 4 men had made their home for the night. Like a well oiled machine we broke out of the vehicle and climbed up flight after flight of stairs to join the observers on the roof. We arrived and greeted the guys who, ten minutes ago, had watched their friends disappear in a cloud of dust and smoke. I moved up behind my sergeant, Ofir, and greeted the commander of the observers who had set up his squad and optics in front of a window that had no glass. We were in the stairwell on the top floor, a steel door led out to the roof. Ofir pushed the door open and led us out into the night, leaving the observers in place. I followed him out there with Tom behind me and Druker behind him. Forest was the last man out and left the door open behind him.
We set ourselves up in the best firing conditions that we could find amongst the satellite dishes and assorted junk that had been left there. I could hear the engine of the armoured car beneath us. My view of the street we had been blown up on was obscured by a row of buildings in front and beneath me. I set up my position sweeping the rooftops below with my night scope. To my right I heard a babble of muted excitement coming from the observers; a moment later they were on the radio to Ofir telling him that they had spotted three armed men on the rooftop directly below us. They were overlooking the street that Team 1 would have moved down to had Adam not spotted the second mine and thrown grenades at it. The armed men lay prone on their rooftop hardly moving.
Ofir counted us down from three and all of us opened fire simultaneously. We had been told to fire only three rounds but we all ignored him and emptied entire magazines into them. As we reloaded I could hear the observation crew going nuts: “You didn’t hit them all! Quick, quick open up on them again!” As one we finished reloading and let loose once again. I was surprised at what I was feeling while pulling the trigger.
I could have been on the shooting range for all of the emotion that I felt at that moment. The thoughts of the lives that I was taking didn’t register; there were no thoughts of ideology, not even excitement. I simply pulled the trigger, again and again and again until they were all dead. One of them had almost made it off the roof, but Druker cut him down as he touched the door to the stairwell. The whole thing had taken just a few seconds from our first volley to our last. The three bad guys lay dead on the roof that they had been lying on. They had planned their ambush well, from setting up the IED’s to positioning themselves on the roof overlooking the only alleyway that we would pass through on our way to our target.
We spent another hour on that roof directing the first team to the bodies. For an hour they moved into different homes in an attempt to reach them, but they just couldn’t find the right roof amongst the maze of alleyways and homes built one on top of the other. Eventually the call to prayer was broadcast over the PA system around the city. Soon it would be daybreak and the locals would be wandering around. The Major decided that three kills, even unconfirmed ones, were good enough for our first night back in Nablus. He called us down and we moved back into the vehicles for the drive back to base. I spent the journey back wondering what the hell was going to happen to the three corpses that we had left on that rooftop.