Here in the Shomoron on the West Bank in the extreme summer heat we met a group of young infantry men whose task was to guard the Chavara check point just in the entrance to the town of Shechem Nablus.
They had to be in holed up in their post for 5 consecutive days without showers or any other breaks even though their base was only 300 meter away .
We brought them some food as this was the Jewish New Year of Rosh Hashana and set talking to my nephew and his comrades who were on patrol in the shade of some pine trees next to the base. I took many portraits of these young men who had already volunteered for a one year community service in remote locations prior to their conscription to the army. As IDF regulations prohibit publishing photographs of soldiers on active duty, without permission, I avoid showing them here. I had a profound compassion for them and in away I felt like hugging each one of them.
Later we drove up the hill and over looking the Chavara Check Point we found an old fountain that the settlers had named Ein Amsha.
They have turned the upper source into a Jewish ritualistic bath - A Mikve named after Yaakov the Righteous.
The Graffiti on the building state "For Men Only"
"Unlish Reprisels Now" ( Tag Mechir in Hebrew)
and "The Revenge of the Blood of Your Slave You Spill". These sprayed writing were done by what is known in Israel as the "Youth of the Hills" which are bands of young fanatics settlers boys who perform acts of terrorism such as mosque burning or fire bombing cars of the innocent Palestinian population. These act of terror are usually done now every time they feel that the army or police is about to take down one of their so called "Illegal Outposts".
Considering their actions and ethos the purifying concept of the Mikve seems like a outrageous travesty.
I was thinking about the two groups of young men and the opposing polar feelings I had towards them. How the commitment of the young IDF men we have just met had aided by offering protection the actions of the other group of young men. I was also realizing with great sadness and compassion for the young soldiers, that for the majority of Israelis this reality did not seems to be of great importance.