Beyond The Green Line

From Jonathan Spyer’s review of Beyond the Green Line;

“‘Beyond the Green Line’ is a memorable and well-constructed invocation of a particular, important and not particularly well-documented moment in Israel’s strife-torn history.  The literature on the Second Intifada is meager, in spite or perhaps because of the lasting trauma this campaign and its over 1000 Israeli fatalities inflicted on the country.   Goldberg invokes the strangeness of the time well.  The book is also an interesting focus on the role played by Israel in Diaspora Jewish identity, and what can happen when a member of such a community seeks to measure the Israel-idea of (in this case) North London Jewry against the complex and ambiguous reality.”

Beyond the Green Line is available at Amazon both for download to your kindle and in hardcopy.

The first chapter is below, have a taste of the book, see if you’re ready for the main course;

Jenin

We’d had a tough climb up the hill but it had been worth it to keep us hidden. At the top it was a different story. Anyone looking up from their window would see us on the crest silhouetted against the moonlit sky. I could hear other small teams working in Jenin that night; each engaged in their own private firefight. The snap, crackle and pop of their gunfire reverberated around the city. A minute after setting up we came under fire too.

It was the pinging on the rocks that gave the game away. I was surprised by how quickly the enemy fire erupted. It wasn’t particularly heavy, a few guys with rifles, but they were quick on the trigger. I peered through my scope to locate the source of the firing only to see what looked like someone signalling in Morse code with a torch. While I was puzzling out why they were signalling I heard more pinging on the rocks around me. It wasn’t Morse code – it was muzzle flashes. The people I was looking at weren’t messaging me they were shooting at me.

The major asked our sniper if he had a fix on the location of the gunfire. He hadn’t. He then turned to Uzi, the spotter. Uzi had a clearer view through his own equipment and he directed the sniper and the nine of us onto the targets. The range finder classed them as being 550m away, within effective range of the sniper’s M24 rifle. It also put them outside the effective range of my own weapon. Whereas my scope amplified by only four times, the sniper’s magnified by six. He still couldn’t see anything, but I could. The terrorists were firing from the window of an apartment building. They looked like green ghosts as I spied on them through my scope. There was more than one but I couldn’t quite make out how many. “Ehud, have you got them in your sights?” Uzi asked the sniper.

“No,” came the reply.

Uzi then began another patient explanation via prominent landmarks to guide him towards his targets: “Do you see the tree at the foot of the hill?” he asked.

“Yes.”

“Do you see the second lamp post on the main street running into the city?”

“Yes.”

“Do you see the apartment building right next to it?”

“Uh-huh.”

“Do you see the window on the fourth floor above the ground with the terrorists hanging out of it, shooting?”

“No.”

What the fuck? I pulled my eye away from the viewfinder to stare at Ehud. Bullets were still ricocheting off the rocks. I tried to make myself part of the ground while maintaining my view of the enemy. I couldn’t understand how they were able to range in on us at this distance. The pinging was close by. I wanted to shoot back. Instead I peered at my enemy as I waited for the order. Even if I did open fire they were too far away for me to hit them.

The major told Uzi to mark the target with an infrared laser. I saw the laser beamed onto the target through my own scope. The major turned to the sniper, addressing him by name. “Ehud, how does it look now?”

“I see the laser but not the target itself,” came the reply. I was having kittens. I had wanted to go to sniper school more than anything but they hadn’t sent me. The reason was obvious: unlike Ehud I had 20/20 vision.

Finally, the enemy was in the cross hairs and he was going to get away because this idiot was blind as a bat. Ehud was the only sniper not on training at that particular time and he wore the strongest prescription lenses known to man. To make matters worse, he couldn’t wear his glasses whilst peering into the viewfinder of the scope. “Just fire at the laser on my command!” The major said. I figured his ability to keep calm at moments like that was the reason for his rank. I’d never been angry with the Palestinians, though I was prepared to shoot at them, but I would have throttled Ehud at that moment. I couldn’t understand why everyone else seemed to be so damn calm.

The major spoke: “Everyone fire together on my command.” The target was 550m away from us; the maximum effective range I had fired at using my M4 rifle was 250m. But I wasn’t prepared to turn down the opportunity to fire a shot in anger. The major gave the order and we opened up, each of us firing one shot. Through the eerie green on black of my night scope I saw the enemy duck and move away from the window. Probably shaken but still alive.

I was upset. Everything had been perfect. Maximum effective range for a sniper at night is 600m and yet Ehud had missed. The major turned to Uzi. “Well?”

“One puff of smoke on the wall about a half metre below the window,” Uzi reported.

The major looked at me. “Marc, do you know the ballistics of your weapon at 550 metres?”

“Yeah,” I replied defensively. Was he going to try to blame me for this debacle?

“So where do you aim?” he asked, a smile on his face.

“Above the target,” I replied. “Way, way above the target,” I muttered under my breath. I shot an evil glance at Ehud. How could he have missed?

A machine-gun opened up somewhere deeper inside Jenin. Perhaps another unit was having more luck than we were – or maybe less. The enemy had been right there in my cross hairs, in all of our cross hairs, and we had been impotent. He had survived. The major didn’t seem to mind that the terrorists had managed to get away. He fairly cackled with glee. “Let them see how it feels to be shot at!” he remarked. I was silent. One shot each was all we fired that night. The bad guys had disappeared.

No one else shared my feelings. No one else cared. I wanted to go back and do it again, to actually kill some of them, and said as much to the major when we were back on the base. He told me we were done with Jenin and heading back to Nablus.

Comments
Marc Goldberg says:

For God’s sake man, I use Nablus when I speak English and Shechem when I speak Hebrew else no one would know what place I was talking about.

IDF Vet says:

I loooked online and found NO Hebrew word NABLUS.
Are you referring to the biblical city called Schem in Hebrew?
You use many Hebrew words in your writing, so why do you use the Roman name for Schem?

lora druker says:

very nicely written marc. great details.
but what about Oren? not one word about my son??!!
hope all is good with you
lora

Marc,
I really enjoyed reading “Beyond the Green Line.” You might consider publishing this as a Kindle ebook on Amazon.com, perhaps as a series.

I published a 13-book series on my experiences in the U.S. Army. See my Facebook page if you’re interested.