The difficult scenes are repeated in their mind, but they also cannot help but feel that lives could have been saved, if better preparation had been made.
Roitman (left) and Stein (Photo: Niv Kladron)
Greg Roitman, 27, of Moshav Herut, and Aharon Stein, 31, of Kedumim sat by one another at the Ziv Medical Center in Safed suffering from light injuries.
Roitman suffered shock in his eyes and is suffering from light hearing problem, while Stein was injured by a bullet which penetrated his shoulder. The two are serving in reserve force in the Paratrooper Division, and recounted their experiences.
"We captured a home in one of the villages as a defensive mission and to observe the forces," said Roitman. "We stayed there for a night, but in the morning there was a strike on the home. We don't know who was shooting. A few seconds after the first strike, there was another precise hit inside the house. As a result our soldiers were injured by shrapnel and one soldier was killed by a direct hit," he added.
"Most of the guys were quickly rescued by airlift and the evacuation was quite efficient. By the time of the third barrage everyone dug in and took cover," said Roitman.
IDF soldier after Wednesday's incident (Photo: Reuters)
The consolation for Roitman and Stein is that most of their friends are lightly injured, except one who is moderately – seriously wounded.
"We paratroopers are guarding the same structure in reserves and we know everyone, including Sergeant Major Igor Kublik who was killed," said Roitman.
"Igor said that the whole Oslo procedure and all of the years in which there was attempt to talk didn't succeed. 'Until now we've been banging our head against the wall because they didn't want to 'talk.' There's no solution to the situation, it seems only a military procedure can defeat them and we can do that. We spoke about politics all the time, that's you do in the reserves," said Stein.
Roitman said soldiers dealt with morality during war time as the IDF's policy: "What really bothered us is that in all of the villages we passed through the houses are standing and are untouched. The IDF's morality during war is exacting a very high price. We can flatten the territory, without ground forces, but from the air."
'Everyone is alert and there is no fear'
Adi Berkovich, 25, of Petah Tikva described the feeling he had as a soldier in enemy territory.
"You try to go over everything you learn and apply it. To keep your eyes open in every direction, to look, to identify. I didn't feel tense during the walk, everyone is alert and there is no fear. But before the entrance there are butterflies in the stomach. This is why we arrived, this is our aim."
One of the soldiers killed in the incident in which Berkovich was injured marched a few meters next to him. "He walked a few meters in front of me, a quiet guy who just came back from vacation. In such as situation of fighting no one complains. This is everyone's efforts, and we help one another," he said.
Unlike Roitman, Berkovich does not doubt the army.
"I believe that the IDF wants the best for its soldiers and is doing the job in the best possible way. What I hope for s that everything ends as soon as possible and we can go back to traveling in the north. Me and my friends are talking about it and we're all waiting for it to finish so we can go back to traveling there. The north is an amazing place," he said.