Do not underestimate a person’s inner strength. Remember Goliat.

Everything written in these pages is based on personal experience. Overall, this is the way I remember what happened. And everything, of course, is based on actual events. Unfortunately.

And this is probably where Russia’s leader Putin is wrong.

As I write this, I am sitting in my safe home, surrounded by everything I need in everyday life and, even though my health is not at its best, (just had my encounter with covid omikron) relatively clear-minded after a round of the virus.

The war has come to Europe, I read, I hear and I see in all types of media these days. Russian forces have attacked Ukraine. A superior force against a very inferior force if we are doing the math. (Number of men and equipment.)

And this is probably where Russia’s leader Putin is wrong.

The number of soldiers, weapons and resources means little in the long run for the outcome of a war. There are countless examples of how wrong that can be. The closest which I can remember is Afghanistan. A quagmire that both Russia and the United States (and other parties also) have ventured into and returned from, without anyone being able to declare themselves so-called winners.

In Ukraine, the Russian military is now experiencing Ukrainians fighting for their country. Literally meter by meter. The strength of a person’s resistance can never be determined from the outside or in advance. You never know what drives the effort.

I remember this myself from my service.

There are many ways to kill a soldier.

One of the more popular ways was to stretch a wire across the road. Israeli soldiers often drove in open jeeps. A soldier would sit in the back of the jeep and be responsible for the machine gun. He would sit a little higher than the two in the front seat. Lots of soldiers were decapitated like this before they started welding an iron bar at a 90-degree angle on the front of the jeep.

Road bombs were another way. The bombs looked like they could have been made for use in a cartoon. Aluminum was wrapped around dynamite blocks to create a kind of box. Nails and bolts were fastened on top of the box. When the bomb was detonated, the nails and bolts turned into sharp shrapnel that tore to shreds everything they hit. The bombs were placed along the road and detonated by a remote control device when the Israeli soldiers passed by.

What the culprits did not know was that everything that happened in our area was observed at an observation post and reported in. During the autumn we had picked up eight to ten groups of road bombers in our area.

It can make you very strong.

In the beginning we did not know that the bombs were detonated by remote control, so we confiscated the bombs before we brought in the bombers. They sat on a hill with their finger on the trigger and watched us. None of them pushed the detonation button. After we realized this, we did it the other way around.

When we went through their bags, we found clothes, pictures and personal items. Never weapons. The cars were packed full of luggage. As if they were on the move. One of our theories was that these were young people who had studied in Moscow and financed their studies by doing “favors” for the Soviet authorities. Voluntarily or involuntarily. Now they were on their way home to their families in southern Lebanon.

But that’s a different story. My message today is about fighting for something you believe in. To persevere.

It can make you very strong.

What ever makes you strong.

We took these boys in for questioning and I was the one who led this. One of the two seemed strong from the first conversation. I thought it would be hard for me to get him to talk. The other, on the other hand, was a boy who cried all the time. He sat in his cell and cried, trembled and was really the one we thought would “break” first.

…the lesson Putin is slowly learning in Ukraine

Until I discovered his eyes during an interrogation. It was like looking at steel. He was tough. The one we thought was the tougher of the two was the one who talked the most. We did not use brutal interrogation methods. We had the boys in for regular questioning. Without the use of violence or any such nonsense. But the boys did not know that. And they knew that if we handed them over to the Haddad militia, they would be killed. Regardless of the starting point or the end point: one of the two talked and gave us the information we wanted, the other, the “weak” never gave us anything.

Never underestimate the strength of a human being. And this lesson is the lesson Putin is slowly learning in Ukraine as we speak.

When it comes to the further course of these two roadside bombers, we were ordered to hand them over to Haddad. Of course, we never obeyed that order. We loaded the boys in our Jeeps, drove them out of the camp and delivered them back in the front line to their own comrades.

We were peacekeepers, not killers.

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Knut Braa

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