A Shooting in Gaza City

Misha Firer

It was always the same team of three, whenever they were sent to the streets of Gaza to disperse the Palestinians. There was a sniper. There was a navigator with binoculars whose job was to evaluate when it was justifiable to shoot. And a camera man who recorded the people whom the sniper shot; a special commission investigates every bullet fired by Israeli soldiers.

Dima clenched the M16 rifle, his index finger fondling the trigger, and slowly walked across the litter-strewn street. Gidi, his navigator, followed in his footsteps. Sasha, with a Sony video camera strapped over his left shoulder, trailed slightly behind. That was their team — some called it one of the best among the new soldiers fighting the current Intifada.

The demonstrators, shouting and whistling aggressively, appeared from around the corner. There were maybe two dozen, most in their late teens, early twenties, clutching stones and Molotoff cocktails in their brown hands.

Dima raised his gun and released the safety catch. He breathed in, held his breath, and slowly exhaled. Gidi spoke, “Steady. There’s movement to the right. A guy in a sleeveless white shirt and blue jeans is holding a Molotoff cocktail. He seems to be fumbling in his pocket for a lighter.”

Although Dima’s command of Hebrew was reasonable, at times of imminent danger his brain malfunctioned, “Can you speak louder for God’s sake?”

Sasha, a Russian immigrant like Dima, laughed as he focused his camera on the demonstrators. “Ok, guys, smile, you're on Candid Camera,” he said and clicked the record button.

The guy in the sleeveless T-shirt finally found his lighter. Not wasting time, he sparked a flame and held it to the piece of cloth sticking out of the bottle. It caught fire and flared towards the bottle neck. The youth thrust his hand far behind him to throw the bottle as far as possible — the demonstrators were still a good twenty yards away from the Israeli soldiers.

“Shoot to kill. Now,” Gidi pronounced clearly, his voice even.

Dima aimed at the Palestinian's face and fired.

There were cries of horror, curses in Arabic. The smoke cleared.

The upper half of the young man’s head was blown off completely. He was lying prone in a pool of his own blood and splattered brains. His compatriots began to retreat, yelling at the soldiers.

“Get ready,” Gidi said relentlessly. “There’s another one. To your left. He’s hiding something behind his back. Thirteen or fourteen years old. Do you see him?”

Dima prepared to shoot again.But there was no need. Three or four young men grabbed their dead buddy and dragged him away. The rest of them followed. Of course they were leaving only to come back later with more people.

Dima closed his eyes and practiced meditation. A few seconds later, Sasha coaxed him out of his reverie.

“Look, there’s no one around,” Sasha said, lowering his camera.

“Are you sure about that deal?” Gidi asked him. He squatted on the road and drew squares and triangles in the thin layer of sand with his index finger. He asked, “Do you really trust that friend of yours in New York? He’s dealing with Russian mobsters after all.”

Sasha was exasperated. “How many times have I told you, that yes, I trust him. . . Dima?”

Dima shrugged, slinging his rifle over his shoulder. “Fine with me. Can’t do those dead guys any more harm anyway but I was just wondering how you plan to replace the videotape in the commander’s safe after you duplicate it?”

“Connections,” Sasha said sarcastically in Russian, “they can get you anywhere in this world.”

Misha Firer

. . . is a 25-year-old writer from Russia. After fighting in the Israeli Army and coming to his senses in Amsterdam, he moved to Berkeley, California. His short stories have appeared or are forthcoming in BIG News, Nuvein, Pink Chameleon, Paumanok Review, Rose & Thorn, Scarlet Letters, Slow Trains, Taint, Tryst, Vestal Review, Word Riot and Ululation.