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Text testimonies The division commander said, “You’re ranked by the number of people you kill”
catalog number: 24759
Rank: First Sergeant
Unit: Paratroopers
period: 2004 - 2007
1,759  views    0  comments
The division commander said, “You’re ranked by the number of people you kill”
Rank: First Sergeant
Unit: Paratroopers
period: 2004 - 2007

Okay. What kind of missions did you do during that period? During that period, it would change. I think it’s important to say, I remember when I was enlisted in a patrol unit, then the thinking was—I always heard friends say this—that what the patrol unit does, the difference between a patrol unit and a battalion is that the patrol unit makes arrests. It goes to arrest people and whatever, and I said, sure, sounds interesting, let’s go for it, I don’t want to stand at a checkpoint, we’ll make arrests. At some point during my service there was suddenly an unconscious change and the units got more extreme. What do I mean, that the unit wasn’t ranked anymore by the number of its arrests? We had a talk with a division commander when we got to the Shomron Central Brigade. He said, “You’re not ranked by arrests— you’re ranked by the number of people you kill.” Who said that to you? The division commander. Above the brigade commander, the most important man. Which division commander, of the West Bank? The division commander of . . . I don’t even know how it’s divided. Probably the West Bank. Do you remember which division commander it was? No . . . it was when I was a sergeant, after we finished training. It was in 2007. He said unequivocally, “That’s how you’re ranked. With Xs. Every night I want you to be out for contact, and that’s how you’ll be ranked.” That’s how the company commanders were ranked as well. At some point I realized that someone who wants to succeed has to bring him dead people. He—no point in bringing him arrests. “Arrests are routine, the battalions are making arrests. You’re the spearhead, the army has invested years in you, now I want you to bring me dead terrorists.” And that’s what pushed us, I believe. What we’d do was go out night after night, drawing fire, go into alleys that we knew were dangerous. There were arrests, there were all kinds of arrests. But the high point of the night was drawing fire, creating a situation where they fired at us. There were “bad” Arabs, the ones who didn’t shoot at us. Mostly, we’d go out every night, we got some mission, we’d try to exploit everyone’s abilities, go into a house, of course all these homes belonged to people who weren’t connected to anything, you see, now even I’m saying it. Innocent people. “Go into the house, do this, we’ll try to draw . . .” We were a new team on the patrol unit. They really tried . . . he really, really wanted us to . . . the snipers to kill. He was on fire with it. “We’ll do it all, you’ll be at the opening and we’ll make sure to draw armed men up to the roofs.” That was the goal. It’s a situation, totally insane, you’re in it, it’s hard to explain. You’re looking through the binoculars and searching for someone to kill. That’s what you want to do. And you want to kill him. But do you want to kill him? But that’s your job. And you’re still looking through the binoculars and you’re starting to get confused. Do I want to? Don’t I want to? Maybe I actually want them to miss. I remember there was one night when my soldiers were on the scope, there was someone armed, and I’m praying that they’ll miss. And I’m standing next to them, saying, “Come on,” but praying that they’ll miss. That they’ll miss and not kill him. I didn’t want them to kill a man. Did they miss? They missed. He was injured. But they missed . . . And when you went around looking for fire, did you get fire? Yeah. And then what would happen? First of all, it depends on what point we were at. The time when we’re inside the house is very short. By the way, in terms of returning fire, when you talk about identifying the source of fire, you mean that you see someone armed on a roof or in an apartment window, or does identifying the source of fire mean shooting at the house when you know that someone fired from one of the windows? How precise is it? No, I don’t think there was a situation where there was fire from the window of a house and they sprayed it. We wouldn’t do things like that. But what did happen was that they’d do everything to try to draw fire. The situation was that, the goal was . . . you know, you go into their neighborhood. Your goal is to bring them out, to make them come outside so you can kill them. And you did it any way you could, to get them outside. If you saw a flash, there was a discussion, is a flash enough? Yes. A flash is enough if it’s from a window. There are all kinds of subtleties, I don’t remember anymore, if you identify a figure then you’re allowed, if you see a flash and then a figure, you’re allowed—everything to make what’s forbidden permissible. Basically, we’d do anything to draw fire. For the most part we wouldn’t be out on a specific mission and get shot at by chance. It happened a lot of times that we’d go out on a search, and if we got shot at on the way to the mission, we’d drop everything and look for the fire, because here, we’ve got someone with a gun, why go look for someone else? The previous company commander might have been no saint but he was locked on a target, we’d go to do something. Again, maybe there was some conceptual change in the army, I don’t know what it’s like now. He was locked into the mission, so if there was peripheral shooting, fine, you had to ignore it and go on with the mission. When I finished with him he was . . . that’s what drew him. He’d get drawn by fire, and he’d do everything to respond to that fire.