I’m not going to give a run-through of the day-to-day, because if you’ve talked to soldiers who served in the field then you certainly know all about the games—the village does have electricity, it doesn’t have electricity, shooting at the water tanks, and hours at the checkpoints [detaining Palestinians at the checkpoints at whim] and other things like that. Every soldier who’s served in the Territories knows all about it and knows that it’s become a kind of norm. But there were two episodes that upset me, first, because to me they were very serious, and second, because it was officers in the paratroops who did them. One was Captain ——, and the other a first lieutenant, when the captain was a company commander in the paratroops. Most of the complaints reached us in the end, they came to us. I’m talking about a complaint we got one day, at the entrance to Takua, where we weren’t stationed, which is why it happened, because we weren’t at that entrance. The soldiers went in without telling us, which is completely against procedure. The complaint was just incredible: IDF soldiers had tied a Palestinian to the hood of their jeep and drove through the village like that. The complaint just didn’t seem to make sense. We asked their operations room, they said, “We’ll look into it and get back to you.” It never happened. We said, “It never have happened.” They said to us, “Yes, there was something, you look into it.” It didn’t make sense, but a complaint like that, you can’t make it up. You can invent a complaint about a delay at a checkpoint, but this was so outrageous that something must have happened, they couldn’t just have made it up. My commander, a lieutenant colonel, and another officer went out there.
Were you there?
I was at the District Coordination Office and I was part of the investigation, and I know the guy that did it and everything. In the end he admitted it. They went there, and again we were told that it hadn’t happened. We started to investigate, started speaking to the soldiers. Apparently, that captain had gone to Takua, which is a pretty hostile village—they were throwing stones at the jeep. So he just stopped a Palestinian guy who was passing, forty-something years old, and tied him to the hood of the jeep, a guy just lying on the hood, and they drove into the village. No one threw any more rocks.
A human shield.
Yes. But not just a human shield—first of all, a human shield is bad enough—this was a moving human shield. Tied to the hood of the jeep and they drove with him tied there. Drove with him through the village, it’s horrific. That officer, by the way—a month before, we’d gone into the same village, Takua, he’d instructed his soldiers to stand on a hilltop, again, the same captain. I don’t want to screw him personally, but all these incidents are written and documented, witnessed and documented at the DCL, and it made it to the papers, at least the story with the jeep. And he admitted it and was sentenced to two weeks’ prison, and was dismissed from his command position.
Which battalion was it?
I don’t want to just say any name. It was a battalion stationed in Betar Ilit, I don’t remember which battalion exactly.
When was this?
In the middle of my service, something like that, March/April. But he was a captain in the paratroops, the incident made it to the media, to the papers. I’m almost sure it was Battalion 101, but I don’t want to say it for the sake of saying something. I remember I worked with them the most, they were there most of the time. But in any case, that same guy, a month before, we went into Takua. He gathered everyone and said, “Guys, I’m putting three snipers on the hilltop, and I’m parking the jeep right smack in the middle of the village.” You have to understand, they go out on patrol in Takua, it’s legitimate. To locate vehicles and to demonstrate a presence. But what he tried to do was get the [Palestinians] to crowd around and start throwing rocks. He said, “I don’t respond to rocks. When there’s enough of a crowd, the soldiers on the hill will take out their legs.” The Palestinians didn’t know there were soldiers behind them, and the soldiers would just spray their legs. It was prevented only because I was there and another officer, and we prevented it. We reported it but it was smoothed over. It was just appalling. His one goal was to lure Palestinian children, just to cut off their legs. It was horrific. This is the same captain who led the incident we were talking about.