What was the issue with confiscating cars? There were a lot of roads, but that’s nothing compared to all of the dirt paths there. There was an order at some point that if you found someone trying to bypass the road, or trying to go around you, and you manage to catch him, then you confiscate his car.
What did you do with the car? You bring it to a lot next to the post. They created a lot.
Who did? I don’t know, I think it was there before we got there, and we used it as a lot. The problem was that there was no one to guard the cars, so settlers from Elon Moreh would come and destroy the cars you’d just confiscated and intended to return to their owners the next day. You confiscate cars, it’s a way for the state to threaten you, so that you don’t do it again.
Did you also look inside the cars? Yes. First you take the person for a short interrogation, and then he goes into detention.
Where do you take him for interrogation? You bring him to the checkpoint, that’s where they interrogate him.
Do soldiers from the company interrogate him? Either soldiers from the company, or if necessary, you bring him to the interrogators at the central brigade. We don’t do that. Usually we’d release him after half an hour, and he’d go on his way, and they’d tell him to come back to get his car after a day or two. Our problem was the settlers who’d walk down from Elon Moreh and destroy the cars. We guarded them so that they wouldn’t smash the windows, wreck them. The taxis are one of their main sources of income. The guy comes back the next morning with his ticket; you walk over with the guy, you want to give him back his car.
So there really was an organized system. Yes, he had a ticket and we had a ticket, he signs and you sign, and then he comes back the next day to get his car.
What was written on the form? His license plate number. After the interrogation, he’d get a note with his number. The idea was only to take his car for a day. He’d drive it out to the car lot, and we’d escort him there.
So you were playing cat and mouse with the settlers . . . Right. You stand there helpless in front of the guy the next day, you go to show him the car, and you see that it’s broken: tires slashed, windows smashed. You catch a thirteenor fourteen-year-old settler and you’ve got a problem. You go to the Elon Moreh settlement, and they say they don’t know anything, and so then you’ve got a situation where the company has to allocate another post just to guard the cars. It was a real pain. We were always fighting with those fucked-up settlers—we tried to protect them, and they just stuck a spoke in our wheels. You catch a car and carry out an interrogation so that terrorists won’t hurt the settlers, you just have to deal with the settlers all the time. And there are all these young, brash settler kids whose parents never taught them anything when they were younger.
But you know the routine—you see the settlers coming . . . The absurd thing was that we’d set up ambushes just to catch the kids coming to destroy the cars. You catch them, but you can’t arrest them because they’re minors—the police can’t do anything to them.
They’re all minors? Yeah, the settlers aren’t idiots—they send their kids, they don’t put themselves in danger. If you catch one of them, you have to open a file. And then the higher-ups speak with the heads of the settlement, and we were helpless. Who’s going to fix their cars? Sometimes the cars were in such a state that they weren’t worth fixing. It’s a shitty feeling you have protecting them and they . . .