Some Palestinian called the operations room, and he spoke in Arabic, we understood most of what he was trying to say. He drove from Beit Furik to Nablus, at Hava 7 (a checkpoint at the entrance to Nablus) he was stopped by soldiers. He had some new tires loaded on top of his vehicle, and the soldiers stopped him. [They] decided it’s suspicious, that it could be [for] burning tires, not that it could be vehicle parts. And they were new, people don’t burn new tires, it costs money. So they (the soldiers) put in a lot of effort, took the tires down from the vehicle, loaded them on a jeep and told him that if he wants them back he should talk to the DCO (District Coordination Office, the Civil Administration’s offices operating in the occupied territories). It was half funny, half absurd. There was something so ridiculous about it because the Palestinian himself was also half laughing on the phone. We put him through to one of the commanders who told us, “Get me the company commander who was there right now.” Within five minutes, those soldiers came to the DCO and they start apologizing profusely, “The tires are here.” There was a deputy company commander there too. He thought it was perfectly legitimate to confiscate for the hell of it. They themselves knew it was ridiculous. They tried to make excuses to us, you could tell they didn’t believe it themselves. They knew themselves that it made no sense. The guy wasn’t suspicious. The tires were new. It was ridiculous to make that claim.
How many tires were there?Four very big tires, for a large truck.
How did they take it down from the roof of his car?They really put effort into it. It was obvious that it was more a matter of them being bored than that they themselves believed in this suspicion. It takes about half an hour to do something like this. Putting them in the vehicle too and driving around with the tires all day. They really caused mayhem in order to confiscate it. If it had been something fundamental they would have passed it on to the Shin Bet. It’s not supposed to be at the DCO. And they told him right away, “If you want it back go to the DCO.” It was absolutely punishment.
Are they manning the checkpoint at that time?No, there was no checkpoint there. There are roadblocks there occasionally and they do security checks.
And he called right away, the Palestinian?He called the next day. It takes them a little while to get their wits about them to figure out who to contact. And it was just amazing, within five minutes they showed up at the operations room and told us, “The tires are here,” there’s no need for trouble with this.
They drove around with the tires in their jeep for a whole day?Yes. They unloaded it in the parking lot, and later the Palestinian came and took [the tires] and loaded [them] on his vehicle.
Do they have the authority to confiscate?Yes. It’s like [when] someone has a knife and you tell him, “The knife is suspicious,” even if it’s small, and you take it, [and] pass it on to the police or the Shin Bet.
How do you decide?Legally? Soldiers have all the authority in the world. Given the situation in which it’s possible to suspect anyone, you don’t need an officer or anything. You can search him on the smallest thing.
You’ve confiscated a knife from someone – do you write it down somewhere? Do you report it to someone?A report, yes. But no one checks where the knife is.
And it’s not supposed to go to the DCO?Sometimes it goes [there], serious things [do]. Say, when you confiscate equipment where there has been construction in an illegal area, you pass it on to the confiscation lot in Beit El. But it sometimes does happen that a tractor sits at the parking lot of the DCO. There was a soldier who came once to the operations room, he had a plastic bag that had two knives that had been confiscated from someone, big knives, and he didn’t know what to do with it. I told him, “Talk to your officers, it has nothing to do with us.” He pretty much said that he could have kept it with him and no one would have known because it had been sitting in their company and everyone was blown away by how cool the knife is.
Did he decide of his own accord to take it from the company and bring it to you?Yes, he turned out to be responsible for even going to ask.
What about IDs that get confiscated?There is no procedure for that. Occasionally a soldier will come, say “We took his ID, [and] we forgot to give it back,” they keep [it] in the DCO and then our officers are supposed to pass it on to the Palestinian DCO. When work equipment and illegal construction tools are confiscated there’s a form that you fill, but IDs are things that get lost all the time.
If the Palestinian hadn’t called and the soldiers had brought the tires, what would you have done?Then there wouldn’t have been anything that could be done. What, [as if] we're going to go looking for this now? I find it hard to believe they would actually go looking for a resident of Beit Furik who has lost some tires. He had a stroke of luck in that he knew where to call and that within a day they were already back with him. Really. I haven’t seen anything like it.
Were any questions asked about this after it happened?Yes, the next day the same deputy company commander called to make sure everything is okay, that the Palestinian got what he wanted. That there hadn’t been any complaints, that no one made a big deal out of it.
What about the battalion commander or someone from the brigade?No. It doesn’t interest them. What does he care? If the officer tells him it’s for security reasons? That it was intended for burning tires? Be my guest, “Do what you think.”