At that time there was that terrorist attack on six people on route 443. Six soldiers from the Engineering Corps, some terrorist came from one of the checkpoints, and by some stroke of dumb luck he killed them all. He came at them inside wherever and shot them all, killed all six. The same night we were in one of the villages with nothing to do. They ran us over to their base, crowded us into some room, there wasn’t much for us to do. All of a sudden our staff officer comes from some two-minute briefing, says, “Listen, this is the briefing . . . we’re doing . . . it’s a revenge operation. We’re going to eliminate six Palestinian policemen at a checkpoint. It’s in revenge for the six they took from us.” That’s the story I want to get at. It was on 443: if you, you cross toward Area A there are . . . there are, like, four transfer posts, and the Palestinian police oversee them. They sent us, along with the paratrooper patrol company, or the paratrooper auxiliary company and someone else, to just, like, eliminate all the Palestinian police there. Right? And the briefing was maybe two minutes. It was defined as, like, revenge, and at the time when I hesitated, like I asked, “What did they do? Who are they?” They said they’re Palestinian police. I said, “What did they do?” They said, “There’s suspicion that the terrorist who killed the six came through that checkpoint.” There’s suspicion, but they don’t know for sure. It could be one of those posts, but they said, “It doesn’t matter, they took six of ours, we’re going to take six back.”
They said it like that?
Like that. Revenge operation. The day after, it was in the papers as a “revenge operation.” They didn’t hide it. It was like reported as a revenge operation and it was . . . insanely praised as fitting “blood revenge.” And we went down to . . . it was a very, very long trek, we went there by foot at four in the morning, there’s no one there at night, they like . . . that checkpoint is closed at night, there’s some building where they live . . .
They go to the checkpoint during the day?
During the day they’re at the checkpoint.
And you waited in an ambush?
We waited in an ambush until . . . until they arrived. And the idea was— the idea was that we would just kill them all, like they’d arrive and we’d take them out, whether they had weapons or not . . . like—this is a Palestinian policeman? Shoot him. And we sat there, and it’s nighttime and more nighttime . . . it’s freezing . . . I’m trembling all over with fear, that’s the truth, but from cold. I was the radioman. There were three men with viewfinders, and they were supposed to fire first, and then we’d charge in from the side. And they arrive. And we catch them doing some search, they’re like five meters from me, standing five meters from me, there were only three and another one far away, and we go up, I get on the radio to get the okay and no one answers me. I get an answer from some . . .
An operations sergeant?
Some, like, girl answers. And there’s no okay, and still no okay, and they can’t find the battalion officer, they can’t find the battalion officer, and my unit officer takes the radio. Now they’re right next to us. He yells, he says, like, yelling, “We’ve engaged, engaged, engaged.” No engaged, no nothing. The guys fired a few shots and hit nothing.
The moment they heard the yelling they opened fire?
We hadn’t “engaged, engaged, engaged.” At the same time, I gave the order to the guys to open fire, but he like yelled to the battalion officer, yelled “engaged,” when we hadn’t actually engaged them, like we didn’t have the okay to fire . . .
They were close to you? He decided it was . . . he did it at his own discretion?
He did it at his own discretion.
He decided . . . ?
Yes. Like we didn’t have the okay to go out to . . . we basically didn’t have the okay to act. There’s a list of permissions that you have to get. There’s permission to go to the place, and then there’s permission to stay there, I think, and then permission to open fire, and we didn’t have it . . . so we yelled “engaged!” . . . like he yelled “engaged!” . . . those guys, the three soldiers fired, they screwed up and didn’t hit anything. They were supposed to hit the streetlamps, which they didn’t manage to do and also they . . . also were supposed to hit the [Palestinian police] . . . to shoot at them. They didn’t hit a thing. We got up, fired off a round, we hit two people, like, two people died . . . but no, they didn’t die, I’m sorry, they were wounded. We hit one in the leg, I think, and one in the shoulder or something like that. They ran, and we went after them . . . we kept going and going. I had a rifle sight. I put a bullet in one of their heads while he was running and another one was crawling behind . . . we all stood up, we ran . . . it was . . . The truth? I really enjoyed it. It was really fun because it was the first time you were like “Forward charge” for real, like I did in training and we were amazing . . . we functioned above and beyond, and he kept running . . . we continued going forward. He went into some storeroom, something made of corrugated tin. Four guys outside, we shot it up to hell . . . there was a gas tank there, the whole tank blew up, everything burned, burned, burned. Meanwhile me and the . . .
That’s where he ran to, that’s where the guy who was crawling went?
That’s where the guy who . . . in the meantime we had killed one. Another one was going up in flames inside the thing, and another one was running. We ran after him, he ran into, like, a cemetery, he went into a cemetery or something. I think it was a cemetery, yeah, it was a cemetery, he ran into the cemetery. We stood on the wall, we fired at him and killed him.
Were they armed?
Wait. During this whole time they didn’t fire back at us. They didn’t fire back. No, they didn’t . . . we weren’t engaged, they didn’t fire at us at any point. We started shooting from a distance, we didn’t hit anything, we got up to charge, we hit one and he ran, I took him down with another bullet. Another one ran into the thing, which we set on fire, and we chased after another one.
To the cemetery?
To the cemetery. And another one who shot at me, and another one who like, disappeared, we didn’t find him, and then . . .
So there were four?
There were four. Now that we’re talking about how many they were, even in the debriefing it wasn’t absolutely clear that there were four. Like it could be there were only three and it could be there were four. We couldn’t, no, we couldn’t identify them . . . like all of the testimonies conflicted, because someone said that he definitely identified three, one that said . . . and someone else said he definitely identified two here, and like from all the connections we identified four, but there wasn’t really any verification, and of the twelve, eleven people in our group no one can really tell you how many there were. We don’t know exactly. And then I get to . . . like they sent me to . . .
Wait, you’re in the cemetery—was the guy killed?
No. We stood on the wall, we fired at him, he fell, and that’s how it ended. Now, the guy I killed, the one I took down, I shot a bullet at him, he was lying on the ground, we only saw . . . like we only saw him from this angle, something was concealing him, and there were three or four of us who’d just put bullets in him, perforated him . . . we just kept shooting at the body.
To verify the kill?
Not to verify the kill, but out of the high of our excitement. We perforated his . . . we like totally perforated him, and then after I got back from the . . . like we retreated from the cemetery, and I went to see, not to verify the kill, but to take his weapon, and then I got to him, and he was like hacked to pieces. His body was hacked up, with a bullet here, and another three there, and another one here, and on his leg from here down was nothing . . . like, it was just, there was nothing . . . we perforated him completely. And I tried and managed to turn him over . . . he was a fifty-five-year-old, if not a sixty-year-old guy, very old, and he didn’t have a weapon, like after the fact we understood, the same with the one in the cemetery, none of them had a weapon.
Were they in uniform?
They were in Palestinian police uniforms. They were in Palestinian police uniforms without weapons.
Then we walked some more, we threw another grenade into the burning thing, we packed up, and then from every direction, like the whole population started coming and our snipers continued firing in their direction, and then they stopped . . . they didn’t hit anyone, but there was a ton of fire and we packed up.
Did you go through an anti-terrorism combat course or something?
We did, yes.
And in that course do they teach you how to verify a kill?
Yes, of course. They teach you about verifying a kill everywhere. You always verify a kill, like, put another bullet in the head even if the guy is dead.
You know that the IDF denies it?
What’s with you? Of course. Of course they do.
Was part of the course, “Now charge, ‘bang . . . bang . . .’ verify the kill”?
When we were packing up. Verifying the kill, of course.
Yeah. Why, you don’t? No?