Monday, July 28, 2003

When I was in the army I worked shifts, which meant I had to work most Shabbatot (Saturdays). I didn't get to see my friends at home very often, because I was working when they were on leave, so I was usually pretty desperate to get home, for at least some of the Shabbat. I would finish the Saturday shift at two and then I would set off from Jerusalem to home in Haifa by "trempim" (hitch hiking) with one or two other soldiers from my base. There were no buses, because of ultra-religious political stuff. The roads were usually deserted. Most cars were full of families on daytrips. Few stopped and it usually took me till evening to get home. By Netanya my fellow "trempistim" (hitch hikers) had usually all disappeared and I often found myself at Hadera on the road by myself.

One time I was standing on my own at Hadera junction. I had been there for about half an hour and hardly any cars had gone past. I nearly cried when a nearly empty car with army plates sailed by. The bastard had gotten his car from the army. Couldn't he stop for a girl soldier, alone on the road? Eventually, a car stopped in the distance in front of me. I started moving towards it, not sure it was meant for me. Then I noticed there were three men in the car, and they looked like Arabs. I was just starting to panic, when another car stopped and I climbed aboard thankfully. I remember finding myself in the back seat of a bashed up old car, squeezed in between an old lady and a crate of chickens or something equally strange. The driver was really crazy and it crossed my mind, not for the first time, that I had more chance of being killed in a car crash than of being abducted by terrorists.

The next Saturday, I felt very uneasy. I decided that was it. Last time. Something was in the air. At HaKfar HaYarok junction on the outskirts of Tel Aviv a woman at a bus stop told me something was happening. There were rumors that a girl soldier had gone missing on the roads. I still had quite a bit to go till Haifa.

Later the news broke. A hitch hiking girl soldier had been abducted by Arabs on the Thursday, two days before. Hadas Kedmi. Apparently I knew her, sort of. She had occupied the room opposite me in the barracks when I was in an army course. Her body was found a few weeks later (the second date on the link is a mistake). I remember the horrible details of what they did to her, but I won't go into that.

I stayed in my base after that.

Good thing my mum isn't around to read any of this. She would have had a fit.

I think they stopped girl soldiers hitch hiking on their own like that some time after I left the army.

Every so often a soldier goes missing and later turns up slaughtered. Today the body of another such soldier, Oleg Shaikhet, was found. They have been searching for him since last week.