Photostory: The face of occupation

BIL’IN, 3 June 2005 — When I got home from Bili’in, I dumped some pictures onto the computer. Going through them, I was surprised to find just how many showed the same man. I remembered him, but had not been aware that I was singling him out for portraits. Of course there were times when the demonstrators were shouting and angry, particularly when the IOF (Israeli Occupation Force) was manhandling people. But until the truncheons were wielded, there was no violence in the olive groves.

Clearly my eye was looking for action, (I am not proud of that) and when this soldier was in sight, my lens, as if it was independently motorised, must have swivelled towards him. If things were quiet, he would quickly ensure that they did not remain so. One could virtually taste his hate, aggression and viciousness.

His truncheon swung from a loop in his glove. Most soldiers were bare handed or with thin gloves. He wore thick gauntlets. He was the only man with knee pads… not sure what they were for. The army call itself the IDF, the Israeli Defense Forces. Its such a sick joke.

Tom Kay is a retired architect who moved to Ramallah in 2002.