article was translated into English by the
Israeli peace group Gush
They had this to say about it: "This is a
unique document. It was published in
Yediot Aharonot on May 31, 2002. It
is the first absolutely sincere Israeli
eye-witness testimony on what actually
happened in Jenin, by one of those who did
it and are proud of it. Apart from the
shocking revelations, this is also a
startling human document. After
publication -- and in spite of it -- the
unit to which the man belongs received
from the army command an official citation
for outstanding service. [Website
[Images added by this
[Israel's most widely circulated
tabloid paper] May 31, 2002
Talks About Destroying
made them a stadium - in the middle of the
- I entered Jenin,
driven by madness, by desperation, in
the worst condition possible.
- I told my wife:
"If anything happens to me, at least
someone will take care of you".
- The funny bit
was, I didn't even know how to operate
- Within two
hours, they taught me to drive
forwards, and make a flat surface.
- I tied the
'Beitar' football team flag to the back
of the bulldozer and told them: "Move
away, let me work.".
- For three days,
I just erased and erased
- I kept drinking
whisky to fight off fatigue
- I didn't see
dead bodies under the blade of the D-9,
but I don't care if there where any.
By Tsadok Yeheskeli
Moshe Nissim, nicknamed
for notes], the
D-9 operator who became the terror of the
Jenin refugee camp inhabitants, speaks
with no censorship about his time of
"I entered Jenin driven by madness, by
desperation, I felt I have nothing to
loose, That even if I 'get it', no big
I told my wife: "If anything happens to
me, at least someone will take care of
I started my reserve service, in the
worst conditions possible. Maybe this is
why I didn't give a damn. Not about
explosive charges, not about gun fire.
"My life was in deep shit for the past
one and a half years. For almost half a
year I am suspended from work as a senior
inspector in the Jerusalem
I worked there for 17 years, till that
cursed day, January the 20th, exactly my
40th birthday, when the police came and
They said that I and my colleagues in
the inspection unit are suspected for
being bribed by contractors and other
business owners, that in fact, we are a
"This is a terrible injustice. I am a
very friendly guy, and in this job you mix
with people you inspect. But bribery?
I am in debt for hundreds of thousands
of Shekels long before all this story. Had
I taken bribes, I would have money, but I
couldn't even pay the lawyer. Since then I
am suspended. My wife was fired as well,
and I have four children to keep.
"This was not the first blow. A few
months earlier, I was injured badly in my
back, my wife was fired, and my son got
run over and had to be operated to save
Today he is OK, but his big dream, and
mine, that he will once be a player in the
Beitar Jerusalem team, this dream is
probably gone forever. Pity. He was really
talented. I have already promised him to
get him into the children's Beitar
two years, it is just one blow after
another. I haven't got a cent, but I love
people. I cannot be indifferent. Every
holiday, I distribute food packages for
the needy. The same at Passover. I ran
around like crazy. And just then, I
started getting phone calls from the guys:
"Kurdi", they said, "we are all being
recruited to do reserve service, but you
are not called."
"Truth is, that I understood my
commanders. Hey, I've been doing my
reserves duty for 16 years now, and I was
useless. I did nothing but make
"During my obligatory Military
service I was constantly
sentenced to prison, because I refused to
be a vehicle electrician. In my unit as
well, in the bulldozer unit, I was
supposed to be an electrician, but
actually, I did nothing, just messed
around. I would come to the unit, and
immediately open a card table, open a
bottle. If any officer would dare send me
to guard duty, I would send him first.
Kurdi always did his thing.
If I felt like going to a Beitar
football match, or going home, no one
could stop me. I would just start the car
"Truth is, they didn't even know me.
When I am given responsibility, I can act
differently, In the "Versailles"
disaster I was in charge of all
the inspection team on location. When I
was seen by one of the guys of my military
unit, he was shocked.
He said: "In the army you can't tie
your shoelaces, and here you are a big
The truth is that when I finally decide
to do something, I am one stubborn guy. I
will go for it till the end. This time was
one of those moments. What haven't I done
for them to take me? I sent the guys to
twist the battalion commander's arm, I
phoned the company commander, I drove them
mad. "I promise to work", I pleaded with
the battalion commander. Finally, he
agreed to give me a chance.
"I said to myself: "Kurdi, you can't
let them down. No more running wild!".
THE speaker is Moshe Nissim, AKA
"Moshe Nissim Beitar Jerusalem".
In the Jenin refugee camp, he was
called, over the military radio: "Kurdi
Kurdi, because this is the name he
insisted on. Bear, after the D-9 he was
driving, demolishing house after
There was not one soldier in Jenin that
did not hear this name. Kurdi Bear was
considered the most devoted, brave and
probably the most destructive
A man, that the Jenin camp inquiry
committee, would want very much to have a
For 75 hours, with no break, he sat on
the huge bulldozer, charges exploding
around him, and erased house after
His story, which he tells openly and
with no inhibitions, is far from being a
regular war myth. Medals, so it seems,
will not be awarded for it. (Actually, his
company was later awarded a citation for
"The funny bit is, I didn't even know
how to operate the D-9. I have never been
an operator. But I begged them to give me
a chance to learn.
Before we went into Shekhem (Nablus), I
asked some of the guys to teach me. They
sat with me for two hours. They taught me
how to drive forwards and make a flat
"I took it on with no problem and told
them: 'That's it. Move aside and let me
This is what happened in Jenin as well.
I have never demolished a house before, or
even a wall. I got into the D-9 with a
friend of mine, a Yemenite. I let him work
for an hour, and then told him, 'OK. I got
"But the real thing started the day 13
of our soldiers were killed up that alley
in the Jenin refugee camp.
"When they brought us in, I knew that
nobody wanted to work with me. They were
afraid to be with me on the bulldozer. Not
only did I have a reputation of a
troublemaker, but also of a man who knows
no fear, and they were right about that. I
really have no fear. They knew I had no
fear, that I don't give a damn, and that I
can go anywhere, without asking questions,
without an escort of tanks or APC's or
anything. Once, in Jenin, I left the tank
that escorted us everywhere. I wanted to
have a spin around the camp, see what's
going on. Gadi, the other operator
who was with me, nearly fainted. He
started going mad: 'Get back,' he shouted,
'we have no escort!', but I had to get to
know the place better, to find an exit,
just in case we needed one. I was not
afraid to die. At least I was insured.
This would have helped my family.The
"When we got into the camp, the D-9's
were already waiting. They where hauled
from Shekhem (Nablus). I got the big D-9
L, me and the Yemenite, my partner. First
thing I did was to tie the Beitar team
flag. I had it prepared in advance. I
wanted the family to be able to identify
me. I told the family and the kids: 'you
will see my bulldozer on television. When
you see the Beitar flag, that will be me'.
And this is exactly what happened.
know it sounds crazy, but for me, to hang
this flag was completely natural. Like
eating. Here, look at this Beitar pendant
around my neck. It never comes off. Not
off me, and not off the kids. I carry the
Beitar flags everywhere I go. Look at my
car, all covered with these flags. This is
the way I am. I always go to the Beitar
matches, in a Beitar colored Galabia (an
Arab man's dress), and a big drum of the
Kurds from the C. Once, after our first
national championship, I took a ride on
the roof of a car, carrying the drum, all
the way to Jerusalem.
"Beitar is a kink in my brain. There is
no other way to explain it. After my
family, it is the most important thing in
my life, and the only thing that can kill
me. In Jenin, I was not scared for a
moment, but I cannot go to the Beitar
matches for half a year now. The suspense
kills me, and I am constantly afraid of
getting a heart attack. Sometimes, I can
walk around 'Teddy' (the main Jerusalem
stadium) with a ticket in my hand, and I
can't go in. In one match, in Beit Shean,
I fainted after they scored a goal. I know
how this sounds, but that's the way it is.
Incurable. At home, they know better than
to talk to me if Beitar lost a match.
"So now you understand why the Beitar
flag was on the bulldozer in Jenin.
Someone told me that my commander wanted
to take it off. But no way. If I had a say
in the matter, there would be a Beitar
flag on the top of the mosque in the camp.
I tried convincing the Golani (an infantry
brigade of the Israeli army) officer I
worked with to let me go up there and hang
it, but he refused. He said I would be
shot if I tried. Pity.
"The flag was the most outstanding
object in the camp. Reservists who went
home on short leave came back with Beitar
flags, just to imitate me. It made a lot
of noise, my flag. The Golani soldiers
were stunned. 'You brought Beitar here,'
they told me. And I said: 'I am going to
make a Teddy stadium here. Don't you
"On the radio, they wanted to call me
'Moshe-Bear', but I insisted on Kurdi. I
told the Golanis, I am Kurdi, and I won't
answer if you call me by any other name.'
That is how 'Kurdi Bear' was born. This is
my name, and I am stubborn.
"In the reserves, they already got used
to my signature: 'Moshe Nissim Beitar
Jerusalem'. For a while they asked me to
stop it, but finally they just gave
"The moment I drove the bulldozer into
the camp, something switched in my head. I
went mad. All the desperation, caused by
my personal condition, just vanished at
once. All that remained was the anger over
what had happened to our guys. Till now I
am convinced, and so are the rest of us,
that if we were let into the camp earlier,
with all our might, twenty-four soldiers
would not have been killed in this
"The moment I went into the camp, for
the first time, I just thought of how to
help these soldiers. These fighters.
Children the age of my son. I couldn't
grasp how they worked there, were a charge
blows up on you, with every step you
"With the first mission I was given, to
open a track inside the camp, I understood
what kind of hell this was.
"My first mission, voluntarily, was to
bring the soldiers food. I was told: 'The
only way to get food in there, is with the
D-9'. They haven't eaten in two days. You
couldn't poke your nose out. I filled the
bulldozer till the roof, and drove the
bulldozer right up to the door of their
post, so that they would not have to take
even one step outside their shelter. One
step was enough in order to lose an arm or
"You could not tell where the charges
were. They (the Palestinian fighters) dug
holes in the ground and planted charges.
You would just start driving, and you
would hit a 3" pipe, welded on both ends.
As you touch them, they go off. Everything
was booby trapped. Even the walls of
houses. Just touch them, and they blow up.
Or, they would shoot you the moment you
entered. There were charges in the roads,
under the floor, between the walls. As you
make an opening, something goes off. I saw
a bird cage blow up in some pet shop,
where we opened a track. A flying
birdcage. I felt sorry for the birds. They
just planted charges everywhere.
"For me, in the D-9, it was nothing. I
didn't mind. You would just hear the
"Even 80 Kilos of explosives only
rattled the bulldozer's blade. It weighs
three and a half tons. It's a
monster. A tank can get hit in the belly.
It's belly is sensitive. With the D-9, you
should only look out for RPG's or 50 Kilos
of explosives on the roof. But I didn't
think about it then. The only thing that
mattered was that these soldiers must not
risk themselves just to eat or drink
"I fell in love with those children. I
was willing to do with my bulldozer
anything they would ask for. I begged for
work: 'Let me finish another house, open
They, in return, protected me. I would
leave the bulldozer without weapons,
nothing. Just walked in. They told me I am
mad, but I said: 'Leave me alone. Anyhow,
the armored vest will not save me.' This
is how I worked. Even without a shirt.
"Do you know how I held out for 75
hours? I didn't get off the bulldozer.
I had no problem of
fatigue, because I drank whisky all the
time. I had a bottle in the
bulldozer at all times. I had put them in
my bag in advance. Everybody else took
clothes, but I knew what was waiting for
me there, so I took whisky and something
to munch on.
"Clothes? Didn't need any. A towel was
enough. Anyhow I could not leave the
bulldozer. You open the door, and get a
bullet. For 75 hours I didn't think about
my life at home, about all the problems.
Everything was erased. Sometimes images of
terror attacks in Jerusalem crossed my
mind. I witnessed some of them."The
purity of our weapons
"What is 'opening a track'? You erase
buildings. On both sides. There is no
other choice, because the bulldozer was
much wider than their alleys. But I am not
looking for excuses or anything. You must
'shave' them. I didn't give a damn about
demolishing their houses, because it saved
the lives of our soldiers. I worked where
our soldiers were slaughtered. They didn't
tell all the truth about what happened.
they drilled holes in the walls, holes for
gun barrels. Anyone who escaped the
charges, was shot through these holes.
"I had no mercy for anybody. I would
erase anyone with the D-9, just so that
our soldiers won't expose themselves to
danger. That's what I told them. I was
afraid for our soldiers. You could see
them sleeping together, 40 soldiers in a
house, all crowded. My heart went out for
them. This is why I didn't give a damn
about demolishing all the houses I've
demolished - and I have demolished plenty.
By the end, I built the 'Teddy' football
"Difficult? No way. You must be
kidding. I wanted to destroy everything. I
begged the officers, over the radio, to
let me knock it all down; from top to
bottom. To level everything. It's not as
if I wanted to kill. Just the houses. We
didn't harm those who came out of the
houses we had started to demolish, waving
white flags. We screwed just those who
wanted to fight.
"No one refused an order to knock down
a house. No such thing. When I was told to
bring down a house, I took the opportunity
to bring down some more houses; not
because I wanted to - but because when you
are asked to demolish a house, some other
houses usually obscure it, so there is no
other way. I would have to do it even if I
didn't want to. They just stood in the
way. If I had to erase a house, come hell
or high water - I would do it. And believe
me, we demolished too little. The whole
camp was littered with detonation charges.
What actually saved the lives of the
Palestinians themselves, because if they
had returned to their homes, they would
"For three days, I just destroyed and
destroyed. The whole area. Any house that
they fired from came down. And to knock it
down, I tore down some more. They were
warned by loudspeaker to get out of the
house before I come, but I gave no one a
chance. I didn't wait. I didn't give one
blow, and wait for them to come out. I
would just ram the house with full power,
to bring it down as fast as possible. I
wanted to get to the other houses. To get
as many as possible. Others may have
restrained themselves, or so they say. Who
are they kidding? Anyone who was there,
and saw our soldiers in the houses, would
understand they were in a death trap. I
thought about saving them. I didn't give a
damn about the Palestinians, but I didn't
just ruin with no reason. It was all under
where inside houses we had to demolish.
They would come out of the houses we
where working on. I didn't see, with my
own eyes, people dying under the blade
of the D-9. and I didn't see house
falling down on live people. But if
there were any, I wouldn't care at all.
I am sure people died inside these
houses, but it was difficult to see,
there was lots of dust everywhere, and
we worked a lot at night. I found joy
with every house that came down,
because I knew they didn't mind dying,
but they cared for their homes. If you
knocked down a house, you buried 40 or
50 people for generations. If I am
sorry for anything, it is for not
tearing the whole camp down." Satisfaction
"I didn't stop for a moment. Even when
we had a two-hour break, I insisted on
going on. I prepared a ramp, to destroy a
four-story building. Once I steered
sharply to the right, and a whole wall
came down. Suddenly I heard shouting on
the radio: 'Kurdi, watch it! It is us!'
Turns out there where our guys inside, and
they forgot to tell me.
"I had plenty of satisfaction. I really
enjoyed it. I remember pulling down a wall
of a four-story building. It came crashing
down on my D-9. My partner screamed at me
to reverse, but I let the wall come down
on us. We would go for the sides of the
buildings, and then ram them. If the job
was to hard, we would ask for a tank
"I couldn't stop. I wanted to work and
work. There was this Golani officer who
gave us orders by radio - I drove him mad.
I kept begging for more and more missions.
On Sunday, after the fighting was over, we
got orders to pull our D-9's out of the
area, and stop working on our 'football
stadium', because the army didn't want the
cameras and press to see us working. I was
really upset, because I had plans to knock
down the big sign at the entrance of Jenin
- three poles with a picture of Arafat.
But on Sunday, they pulled us away before
I had time to do it.
"I bitched them to give me more work. I
would tell them, over the radio: 'Why are
you letting me rest? I want more work!'
All this time, I was really sick. I had
fever. I got back from Jenin wiped out.
Torn to bits. The next day, I went up
again. One of the guys was ill, and I
volunteered to help. I got back there. The
battalion-commander was in shock when he
saw me. The other operators all cracked up
and needed rest, but I refused to leave. I
"I had lots of satisfaction in Jenin,
lots of satisfaction. It was like getting
all the 18 years of doing nothing - into
three days. The soldiers came up to me and
said: 'Kurdi, thanks a lot. Thanks a lot'.
And I hurt for the Thirteen. If
we had moved into the building where they
were ambushed, we would have buried all
those Palestinians alive.
" I kept thinking of our soldiers. I
didn't feel sorry for all those
Palestinians who were left homeless. I
just felt sorry for their children, who
were not guilty. There was one wounded
child, who was shot by Arabs. A Golani
paramedic came down and changed his
bandages, till he was evacuated. We took
care of them, of the children. The
soldiers gave them candy. But I had no
mercy for the parents of these
I remembered the picture on television,
of the mother who said she will bear
children so that they will explode in Tel
Aviv. I asked the Palestinian women I saw
there: 'Aren't you ashamed?'
"After I finished the work, I got out
of the bulldozer, piled up some clothes on
the side of the road, and fell asleep.
They looked after me, so that I won't get
run over by a tank or something. All the
fatigue of the past 75 hours just landed
on me. There was a lot of excitement in
what I did. The fact that I did a good job
operating the bulldozer, the soldiers who
came to me, after it was all over, and
said: 'thank you'. This was enough for me.
I miss them. I've invited all of them for
Kubeh at my place. Their commander, Kobi,
the one I worked with throughout the 75
hours, was amazed by the invitation.
'Do you want the entire company to come
over to your house?'
I told him: 'As far as I am concerned,
bring the whole battalion.'
I phoned my mother, from the D-9, and
told her that the whole battalion was
coming. She said: 'no sweat'. I am waiting
"I know many people will think that my
attitude stems from me being a 'Beitar'
and 'Likud' member. It is true.
I am heavily on the right. But this has
nothing to do with what I have done in
Jenin. I have many Arab friends. And I
say, if a man has done nothing - don't
touch him. A man who has done something -
hang him, as far as I am
concerned. Even a
pregnant woman - shoot her without mercy,
if she has a terrorist behind her.
This is the way I thought in Jenin.
I answered to no one. Didn't give a damn.
The main thing was to help our soldiers.
If I had been given three weeks, I would
have had more fun. That is, If they would
let me tear the whole camp down. I have no
"All the human rights organizations and
the UN that messed with Jenin, and turned
what we have done there into such an
issue, are just bullshitting, lying. Lots
of the walls in those houses just exploded
by themselves, at our slightest touch. It
is true, though, that during the last days
we smashed the camp. And yes, it was
justified. They mowed our soldiers down.
They had a chance to surrender.
"No one expressed any reservations
against doing it. Not only me. Who would
dare speak? If anyone would as much as
open his mouth, I would have buried him
under the D-9. This is the reason I didn't
mind seeing the hundred by hundred
(7)we've flattened. As far as I am
concerned, I left them with a football
stadium, so they can play. This was our
gift to the camp. Better than killing
them. They will sit quietly. Jenin will
not return to what it use to be."Epilog
Two days after getting out of Jenin,
'Kurdi Bear' was admitted into hospital,
suffering from pneumonia. As it turned
out, the 75 straight hours in the D-9 took
their toll. Some days after he had
returned home, a phone call woke him up in
the middle of the night.
"I got home one night, and for some
reason, I couldn't sleep. I was
Till 4 AM I just wandered about,
suddenly the phone rings: 'Are you Nati's
I sked what happened. 'Get over here,
to the hospital.' 'Tell me the truth' I
'I must know'. She said that: 'Things
are not good. Come'. I speeded to Tel
Hashomer hospital. A nurse and a social
worker waited for me there. They wanted to
tell me that my son had died. That he came
in, dead already. Finished. Serious brain
damage. They had planned to ask me to
donate his organs.
"Suddenly she ran to the surgery, came
back and said that they drained blood from
his brain, and that she hopes he will
survive. We will know within 72 hours. We
hurried to get an amulet from Rabbi
Caduri. It helped with the Beitar
team, when we almost dropped to a lower
league. On Friday, they called us back to
the hospital. They were in shock: The kid
just tore the respiration tubes off. He
20 year old Nati Nissim is lying
on a bed, in the fifth floor of the Beit
Levinstein hospital, draped from head to
toe in the black-yellow uniform of the
Beitar football team. "Daddy," he says
suddenly "Don't forget. I need to get to
the semi finals." Kurdi Bear, with a
bristly chin and red eyes, freezes for a
second, and tries to get his son back into
reality. "Nati", he says softly, "I've
already told you, Beitar has lost."
Nati laughs. "No way! I am going to the
match!" he says and tries to get up. The
father suppresses his frustration, gives
up the struggle. The accident has caused
the son to lose his short-term memory.
Just like in the movie "Momento", he can
recall, with astonishing precision, any
Beitar goal going ten years back or even
more, but forgets within minutes who he is
talking with. "Why am I here?" he asks his
parents again and again, and bows his head
with embarrassment when an acquaintance
reminds him of a conversation they had
just the day before.
Kurdi sits in the ward and tries to
look as optimistic as possible. The
doctors are talking about a lengthy
recovery process. They say that there is
no telling if and when Nati's memory will
return to normal. The financial situation
is not brieither. He and his wife, Ronit,
can hardly buy gas for his battered Subaru
that tries to make the journey from the
Castel neighborhood to the hospital. Kurdi
wants to build himself a tent in front of
the hospital. For the time being, he
sleeps in the car.
"Jenin has strengthened me," he says.
"It helped me forget my troubles. I had
hoped it would be some turning point,
until this hit me. But what happened to
Nati taught me what really is important. I
am living now for my son. The rest is
really not important."
The friends from his reserves unit are
"He stood up when it really counted. He
was there, in the most trying moment",
says Haim Tamam, a soldier serving with
him. "No one has functioned like he has.
And I don't know if any of us could go
through the nightmare he went through
without putting a bullet through his head.
We are all amazed by him."
Yeffet Damti, his bulldozer partner
from Jenin, says that one thing is
certain: "On the next mission, I am only
going with Kurdi".
Kurdi, for his part, thanks his
commanders that gave him the chance.
For the time being, they are wrapping
him with attention and sympathy. They came
here, to the hospital, just to be with
him. Just so he won't be lonely. They are
talking about raising funds to help him.
When they meet him next to his son's bed,
back come the memories from those 75
The chats around the son's bed continue
till the management of the hospital called
and begged them to stop bragging about
destroying Jenin. There are Arab
therapists who might be hurt, and one of
the Arab patients has already
[See the original article
with additional commentary, at the Gush