When an entire IDF platoon takes over your roof — for a photo

A two-minute video manages to perfectly capture the day-to-day banality of living under a military regime. 

I was able to count 37 soldiers. At least 37. One after another, each with his own weapon and combat vest, they climb up to roof the Abu Haya family’s home — located in the section of Hebron under direct Israeli military control.

Why? It’s unclear. They don’t speak with the members of the family. Or rather, they don’t explain. They simply utter things such as “close the door,” and “turn off the camera,” all while some of the soldiers are clearly enjoying themselves as they film the family from the staircase.

They ignore Muhammad Abu Haya’s (the owner of the house and the person behind the camera) questions, when he tries to understand what dozens of soldiers are doing heading to the roof of his house.

They reach the top, gather together and get ready for a group photo with a lovely view of Hebron in the background. “Put it on Instagram” says one of the soldiers at the end of the clip. It took the soldiers an hour to leave, according to Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem, which uploaded the video to its YouTube channel.

Of course, far more terrible things happen around the world. Even in the context of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, for example, one can talk about the thousands killed in wars over the past few years; or about the kidnapping and subsequent murder of four teenagers; or the violence in the streets of Jerusalem; or Hamas’ execution of Palestinians suspected of collaborating with Israel during last summer’s war; or even the story of the very same Abu Haya family, when soldiers threatened to arrest a 14-year-old member of the family despite having admitted that he did nothing wrong, all while saying that they would arrest him in the future, regardless of whether or not he commits a crime.

And yet, there is something in the banality, the casual day-to-day aspect of this video that captures an essential component of the story of the occupation, of a military regime that runs the lives of millions of Palestinians in the occupied territories. Something in the lordship, the total blindness of the soldiers who, for no good reason (and without a military order) — without so much as explaining what they are even doing — simply head the roof of the family’s home, armed from head to toe, and pose for a group photo.

WATCH: IDF soldiers threaten Palestinian child with false arrest

I looked at their faces as they climbed the stairs and as they were being photographed together. It doesn’t seem like any of them feels uncomfortable by the situation. It doesn’t seem like any of them are thinking that, just maybe, the roof of a family’s house should remain closed off to them if there is no good reason or special approval to be there.

They most likely don’t think about what it means to be a father, a mother, a 14-year-old boy or three-year-old girl watching nearly 40 soldiers doing as they please and climbing the stairs of your home. Soldiers from a foreign country, from a different nation, armed, threatening, who are there in order to enforce a regime that forbids you from walking on entire streets because the chosen people want them for themselves; that allow the chosen ones to throw stones at you and do nothing to stop it; that with their bodies, weapons and foreign language create a reality in which there are two separate legal systems for people from the same place.

This article was first published in Hebrew on Local Call. Read it here.

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