Samyaza Chapter 17, Camp Mitkan, off El Alamein – October 2006

They were given two days stand down and a doctor came and visited each one on each day. They had one meal together, but it was a subdued affair and Freida made her apologies and left early.

“Good,” Aisha said, and they were all surprised at her sudden dislike of a team member.

Heyfa seemed to have been treated the worse and walking was painful for her, as was passing urine. Afarin looked after her, insisted she went to bed, while she cleaned and the apartment and cooked badly for her.

“I wish you would get into bed with me, Afarin, before you give me food poisoning.”

“I thought it was too painful for you?”

“We don’t have to give one another a good old bit of heavy frottage. I just want your company.”

They lay quietly in bed, the radio on low in the background.

“They were awful to me because I was a Christian. They shocked me while I was on that bloody sawhorse as well. Inventive little fuckers, weren’t they?”

“They were cruel because they could get away with it. Have you noticed that the boys won’t talk about it?”

“They are probably ashamed. They made Dan watch Batya being given electric shocks. They seem closer now somehow,” Afarin observed.

In the afternoon of the first day off, there was a gentle knock at the door of Aisha’s apartment. It was Hoffman who stood almost guiltily.

“Staff Sergeant Hoffman. What do you want?” Afarin asked coldly.

“I would like you to come for a walk with me, please.”

Aisha was asleep, “Very well.”

They went into the woods and Hoffman sat down. Afarin moodily threw pinecones and waited.

“Afarin,” he said quietly.

“Don’t you dare tell me how sorry you are. Some of the team still believe it was the Palestinians who captured and ill-treated us, but it was a fucking training exercise, wasn’t it? To see how much, we could take. You have fucked with people’s minds.”

“Yes. And now you know what it will be like if you are captured. Think of that female pilot who provided your close air support. If she was ever shot down over enemy territory. can you begin to imagine what Hezbollah would do to her?”

“I’d put a bullet through my head, first!”

“We would rather everyone didn’t know it was part of the training,” Hoffman told her, “If they knew it was an exercise, many would fold within a couple of hours. As for you, we cleared it with London. My boss spoke with a man called Alan Bartlett and told him what the training would consist of. He agreed because he wanted to give you a fighting chance if you were ever captured. His one stipulation was no permanent marks or disability.”

“How thoughtful. You really are ruthless fuckers you Jews, aren’t you? “Do MI6 come to Israeli torture seminars?”

“We have many enemies who do not believe we have a right to exist. We won’t ever get on cattle trucks again. You may not believe me, but I died inside when I saw you in that place. You were in so much pain, but defiant.”

“Oh Azriel, how noble you were, coming to my rescue like a knight on a white charger.”

“Please don’t be sarcastic to me. I have something of great importance to ask you and it’s difficult enough without you hating me… Us. Come and sit next to me.”

Afarin sat down, drew up her knees and rested her head on them, “This had better be good.”

“Must you always fight, Afarin?”

She felt tears at the back of her eyes, “It’s what I do. I have nothing else.”

He looked away as she started to shake, “I wish there was more to my life than this and I know that I’m being used, but it’s the only thing I’m any good at.”

Hoffman shook his head and felt for her hand, “You look after Heyfa like you love her. She must be grateful to you.”

“I betrayed her in that place. I said I didn’t know her.”

“And what could you have said? We are friends, lovers, and kindly stop doing those horrible things to her, you naughty men.”

Despite the tears she smiled at the improbability of it, “Very well, Staff Hoffman. What do you want from me? I thought I would be going home.”

“We are in a dilemma,” he told her, “There was always supposed to be eight in the team, to conduct a last, live mission before being posted into Mista’arvim units around the country. Unfortunately, one of you failed the grade and will be returned to their unit. That leaves us one short for the final stage of training, a mission into the Palestinian territories.”

“And because I had so much fun while you were torturing me, I’m just the ticket to make the numbers up. Of course, you’ve passed it with by Alan Bartlett and MI6, and he said, what a super idea. Her country will be so proud of her when she comes home in a wooden box.”

Hoffman looked down guiltily, “I wouldn’t blame you for saying no.”

“You put me in a spot, Staff Sergeant Hoffman…”

“Azriel. You are Mista’arvim now.”

“All right, Azriel it is. What happens now?”

“We will check you all for compatibility and your team will be posted. You will elect a team leader who will then learn the nature of you mission and prepare you all. He will give you your final briefing and the plan must be agreed by each of you.”

Afarin looked at him for a long time, a look that was difficult to read. Her mind was in turmoil, and she took out a packet and lit a cigarette, “All right. I’ll do it. If I get captured, kill me. Bomb the shit out of the place. I won’t care.”

“I would. I have become very fond of you, Afarin Khan. And you shouldn’t be smoking.”

“Why, because they’re bad for my health?”

“Not now, but in the future. I presume you want a husband and babies.”

“Never happen. I’ll be dead before then.”

“Not on my watch,” Hoffman stood up, “Thank you, Tipsha. No one left behind, I promise you.”

He touched her shoulder and headed off through the trees. She looked down at her trainers and tied a loose lace, feeling a strange sadness. She had become fond of him as well. Afarin stood up and dusted herself down, then walked back to the apartments. On the way she saw Freida loading baggage into a car and waved. To her surprise, Freida dashed back into her apartment and closed the door. Afarin walked up to the car and saw it was full of Freida’s belongings. She went to the apartment door and knocked.

“Go away,” came a muffled voice from inside.

“Please open the door, Freida.”

It opened and Freida looked away.

“Can I come in?”

She stepped back out of the way and Afarin went in and looked around. The apartment was bare, the bedding folded on the bed.

“What’s happening?”

“I’m being returned to my unit. I wasn’t good enough. I was a coward.”

She started to weep, and Afarin put an arm around her shoulder, “Don’t cry, Freida. What do you mean, you were a coward?”

“I couldn’t take it. I was frightened of the pain, and as soon as they put the wires on my breasts, that pain was bad enough and I told them everything. I betrayed all of you. I told them you were from Britain and were here on training. That Heyfa was a Christian. That Zelig was a pilot, and I knew they hate pilots. I didn’t care as long as they didn’t hurt me. They said they were going to rape me, and I was weak.”

“It doesn’t matter, Freida. They were going to hurt us all anyway, just because they could.”

“It doesn’t make me feel any better,” She started to sob, “I could hear you screaming, and they made me watch Aisha being tortured, hung upside down from the roof and shocked with her head submerged in a barrel of water. I was glad because they weren’t doing it to me. Even though she was in so much pain, she looked at me with contempt. I betrayed you all. They made me watch all of you being tortured.”

“I betrayed Heyfa. I said I didn’t know her. We all do what we must do to survive.”

Freida wasn’t stopping, the guilt pouring out of her, “It’s so easy to be brave when you’re surrounded by your comrades, my tank crew. But when you are alone and men are laughing at your body and showing you the instruments, they will use in your private parts, I couldn’t be brave. You could Afarin because you are the bravest person I’ve ever met.

“They have all been kind and understanding, Hoffman and the course director were sympathetic, but I have lost the confidence of my comrades, particularly Aisha. I will be returned to my armoured regiment, no repercussions, or reports, but I will know. I’ll always know.”

Afarin embraced her, “Don’t let this eat you up, Freida. It is a small part of your life. Think about the things you’ve learned and the people you have met.”

“Goodbye, Afarin. You were always kind to me and thank you for not judging me.”

They walked to her car, “Godspeed, Freida.”

As she drove away, she was crying. She looked in her mirror and Afarin waved.

She made an appointment with the doctor and was seen straight away, by the doctor who had examined her after the interrogation.

“I need to delay my period. They are all over the place, but I think it’s coming soon.


“Because I’m going on an operation.”

“I can prescribe norethisterone to delay it. But how are you? Do you mind if I examine you? You can get undressed behind that screen.

The doctor listened to her lungs, “Hmmm, clear of fluid. Have you had a cough?”

“Yes, but it’s gone.”

“Can I see your vagina, please. Small lesion but it’s scabbed and is healing. Do you have flashbacks or nightmares?”

“I dream a lot with two recurrent dreams. That I’m below decks on the Titanic, it’s sinking and filling with water and I’m going to drown. The worst is that I’m in the dungeons of the inquisition and they’re going to insert hot pokers into me. But I’m glad they didn’t put the electrodes on my breasts. That would be like having my femininity attacked and debased.”

“The inhumanity of men to women is legend. Do you need me to prescribe something to help you sleep?”

“No. I can sleep, but the dreams are vivid.”

“They should fade over time. If not come and see me again and I’ll recommend you for some psychotherapy. You women are so fit it’s incredible what you go through. Have you considered being captured again?”

“Yes, and I will kill myself rather than go through that again.”

“You can’t be serious.”

“Have you ever had to suffer an advanced interrogation, doctor?”

“No, just the basic slapping around and mild beating during training.”

“When you are tortured, your life and psyche is ripped apart. You have nothing to identify with, just pain and fear. The only constant is the torturer, and he is playing tricks with your mind.”

Afarin collected her prescription and walked back to Heyfa’s apartment thinking sadly about Freida and went inside. Heyfa was sitting up in the bed.

“Where have you been. You should have told me… God listen to me, I’m like a jealous and bitter dyke. I’ve never thought of myself as a lesbian.”

“We’re not. We like exploring girls and it’s nice to have a soft, woman’s body to feel next to you. You’re my first girl. I love men and their hard bits.”

“Mmmm, me too. Where have you been?”

“Hoffman wanted to see me. It was a sort of apology, but we have lost Freida. She has been returned to her unit.”


“Because the Palestinians broke her. She betrayed us.”

“I can sympathise,” Heyfa said, “But I hated them so much and my hate made me determined not to say anything. I pissed them off, so they hurt me, and I think they enjoyed it.”

“It means that I will be going with you on your first mission.”

“I thought you wanted to go home?”

“I did, but someone had to look after you.”

“Where are we going?”

“How the bloody hell should I know, but I reckon we’ll be split into two teams. We have to vote on who will lead and they will do the planning with our input.”

Afarin put the kettle on for some coffee.

“At least you can’t burn the water. You’re no Jamie Geller, are you?”

“Do you mind going into the territories again?”

“As long as it’s not on horseback. If they take me, I’ll kill myself.”

“That’s what I said to Hoffman and the doctor. Heyfa, I’m scared.”

“Turn the gas off and get into bed with me. Be gentle my Persian Princess…”


The INS Livyathan’s Israeli built Atlas Elektronik CSU 90 hull-mounted passive and active search and attack sonar scanned the deep. It interrogated the shallows ahead of the Dolphin Class3 submarine. They felt the deck beneath their feet pitch upwards as the submarine slipped out of the depths. It was barely making headway and rising very slowly to periscope depth.

It was a large submarine with a small crew of thirty-five personnel. With a conventional layout consisting of the torpedo room and sonar forward and going towards the stern, the accommodation, galley, mess and under the sail, the control room. Aft of the control room was the engineering control room with the diesel engines and generators in the stern of the submarine.

One unusual feature was the Deep Guardian Special Forces hanger, attached on the aft deck behind the sail. It was a large, pressurised container that combat divers could enter of leave and transfer into the submarine. The only thing it was carrying was a Zodiac with a suppressed engine.

In the control room the atmosphere was tense but quiet. The sonar operator looked up from his display and readouts at the glass screen, calculating relative positions to the submarine.

“Captain, I am picking up a single screw, low revs some ten nautical miles off our stern starboard quarter. Probably a freighter inbound for Alexandria. Speed around five knots.”

“Very well. Have our passengers stand to.”

In the small mess area of the accommodation, Afarin Khan stared at the coffee in the mug. It was still and stable and she miserably chased some grains of sugar on the table. Dan was sitting opposite her and picked up on her mood. He moved and sat next to her and spoke quietly, “You OK, Habibti?”

“I’m scared, Dan.”

He put his arm round her shoulders, “We’re nearly there. They have come up so we must be near the coast.”

“Three days in this tin can. I don’t know how they stand it.”

“Because it’s their job. Once they have dropped us off, they will go out to deeper water and re-charge their batteries, then come back for us.”

“You hope,”

They had shared a bed and birth, two bunk spaces for the women and the two men slept on the deck. They were in the small mess, passing time and drinking endless coffees. Afrin had also drunk a lot of water because she would need to remain hydrated.

There was a calendar on the mess bulkhead, IDF Babes. Each month had two photographs, the first of Israeli Defence Force personnel in their working clothes, the second picture of the same women in a “more relaxed” pose. Miss October was on top of a ladder to climb into the cockpit of an F 15. She was wearing a flying helmet, visor down, but she seemed to have forgotten to put on her flying overalls and G-suit. Achmia from Rama, so the write up said, likes nothing better than flying high, like an Eagle and has been an IDF pilot for two years.

Afrin hoped she wouldn’t have to eject like that. She would catch her death of cold.

Aisha looked up from her knitting and smiled at Afarin, “Don’t worry, it will be a walk in the park.”

Gad didn’t even look up from his puzzle book, “Food’s good though.”

Afarin looked at Dan. He had turned into a real leader, so different from the man she had fought with, and she knew why Batya was besotted with him, and he with her for that matter.

“I wonder how the others are doing?”

“They’ll be back home now,” Dan affirmed.

“I really do hope so.”

“Missing Heyfa?” Dan teased.

“No. Missing Hoffman,” she said, and the others laughed.

They had a secret vote on the leader and put the ballots in a hat. You could not vote for yourself. Afarin was astonished she had one vote and there were three for Dan. The vote for the 2IC was close with Aisha and Afarin neck and neck. They voted again and was Afarin three votes to one. It made sense because Dan and Aisha would do main part of the mission, Afarin and Dan covering their withdrawal.

Dan and Aisha were dressed as prosperous Arabs, complete with a lightweight linen suit for him and a smart pleated robe dress and Shayla for Aisha. Afarin was dressed as a poor working woman and Gad as a menial worker. They may have been workers in the many hotel complexes in the area overlooking the sea.

The first officer ducked through the bulkhead and looked at them, “Showtime, ladies and gentlemen.”

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