The soldier with a honey-colored ponytail tucked under her hat was surrounded Tuesday by weeping teenage girls in Neve Dekalim asking her where her Jewish heart was — but she didn’t flinch.
“How can you evacuate my grandmother? She was in the Palmach,” said one teary-eyed girl, referring to the elite Jewish militia that fought to establish Israel in 1948.
The soldier, 19-year-old Liron Ben-Dor, replied calmly: “I love this country no less than you do. We are doing this so we can continue living here.”
Unconvinced, the growing crowd of girls and young women continued to bombard her with the slogans and arguments that the anti-pullout movement has drilled them to repeat.
One asked her how she could carry out such a crime, referring to the ongoing evacuation of Gaza’s Jewish settlements. Another told her she was being used by the government. A third asked her, “Why do I have to defend my home from soldiers?”
Soldiers were met with other familiar lines: “A Jew does not expel another Jew,” “Soldier, policeman, refuse orders,” and “Shame on you.”
As security forces marched up the main road in Neve Dekalim trying to break up a crowd blocking the road, a man with a small boy on his shoulders yelled, ”Get out of here! Leave our homes, criminals!” The troops kept moving forward.
Further down the road, a teenage girl spotted a soldier with a yarmulke. As he passed by, she yelled: “He’s wearing a kippah. How can that be? He should take it off.”
Iskar Lugar, 15, kneeled in the sand behind a row of soldiers on break sitting on a curb, their backs toward her.
In a voice hoarse from crying, Lugar yelled out at them: “I’m your sister. Why are you doing this? As long as we are connected to the land we are connected to God.”