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Text testimonies Just to show our presence in the middle of the village
catalog number: 28493
Rank: First Sergeant
Unit: Nahal Haredi
Area: Jericho and the Jordan valley
period: 2003
categories:
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Just to show our presence in the middle of the village
Rank: First Sergeant
Unit: Nahal Haredi
Area: Jericho and the Jordan valley
period: 2003

We did all kinds of very sketchy work in Area A (areas of the West Bank under the civilian and security control of the Palestinian Authority). That could mean, for example, going into Tubas on a Friday, when the market is packed, to set up a surprise checkpoint in the middle of the village. One time, we arrived to set up a checkpoint like that on Friday morning, and we started to spread out in a barrier formation: inspecting vehicles, every car that passed. Three hundred meters from us some kids start a small demonstration. They throw rocks at us, but they reach maybe ten meters and don’t hit us. They start cursing us and everything. At the same time, a crowd of people gathers. Of course, this was followed by aiming our weapons at the kids—you can call it self-defense.

What was the purpose of the checkpoint?Just to show our presence in the middle of the village. In the middle of the village, in the middle of women going about their shopping, in the middle of children playing, simply to show our presence. And it means getting into a firefight that within moments we couldn't know if we'd get hurt there. In the end we got out without a scratch, without anything happening, but in that incident the company commander lost it. He asked one of the grenade launchers to fire a riot control grenade toward the demonstrators, the children. The grenade launcher refused, and afterward he was treated terribly by the company commander. He wasn’t punished, because the company commander knew he’d given an illegal order, but he was treated really disgustingly by the staff. In the end, that's how [the incident] ended. Another time we went into Tubas at three in the morning in a Safari (an armored truck used to transport soldiers) with stun grenades and simply started throwing them in the street. For no reason. To wake people up.

What was the point?“We’re here. The IDF is here.” In general, they told us that there's some terrorist, that if he hears the IDF in the village, then he’d come outside to fight. He never came out. It turns out that in retrospect, the goal was just to show the local population that the IDF is here. And it’s a common policy: “The IDF is here in the territories, and we’ll make your lives bitter until you decide to stop the terror.” From the IDF's point of view, there's no problem doing that. [But] we, who threw the grenades, didn't understand what the point was. We threw a grenade, we heard a “boom,” and we saw people waking up. When we got back they’d say, “Great operation,” but we didn’t understand why. This happened every day. Each time it was a different force from the company. Part of the routine. Part of the atmosphere. Not a particularly positive atmosphere.