What are the tasks of patrol 30? Patrol 30 is the securing frontline. So that we’ll be the first to encounter [hostile activity], before the posts. Because in the end, securing Hebron is really a joke.
Twelve hours of patrolling the Casbah? Twelve hours in the Casbah, patrolling around, and that’s it. Nothing special.
House mappings? Again, it all changes. You have mappings to do and whatever, and in the end, it depends on who’s in charge. Let’s say me and my platoon commander, we never sent out a single mapping inside the western Casbah, because I can’t make, I can’t believe it’s really necessary. On the other hand, there’s another platoon commander and sergeant who do that on a regular basis, three-four times in a patrol.
What does mapping mean? What’s a mapping, actually? You have a mapping form for all the ID numbers, what the person does, etc. So you go into a home.
Daytime? Night-time? Day, night, doesn’t matter. Preferably night-time. My company commander always emphasized that night-time was better, when the whole family is in. Later I’ll go over mappings I did. You actually map out the house. You walk around with the owner, he picks up this for you, picks up that, picks up whatever. Basically, everything that’s been found so far, I can tell you it’s bullshit. Take out a hidden knife, a toy knife. A knife that’s a cigarette lighter. And I go, sure, that’s really a knife someone’s going to use for something, it’s a decoration. Simply, if you’re a Palestinian in the western Casbah or anywhere near, I’ve reached the conclusion that that is the shittiest thing in the world to be. You’re forbidden to have a cap gun, a knife. Any knife, almost. I got to the point where my platoon commander confiscated a kitchen knife. I go, “Why? Why take it?” “It was lying weirdly in the living room”. “I’m not taking it.” “You’re taking it.” I find myself taking his kitchen knife. The guy is a supporter of Fatah, true, because he was in… I got to the point where I had pretty personal relations with the residents of the western Casbah because, I don’t know, I try to be nice to them, because people treat you the way you treat them. But they’re actually really used to a military presence. As soon as we get there: “Oh, you’re new, you’re an officer, you’re a sergeant”. I mean, every one of them: “You’re a March 2006 recruit? March 2005?” Everyone already, the kids there go, “Until when, March ’06?” “Until when, November ’05?” (an army catchphrase). They say that to my soldiers, and my soldiers brilliantly answer: “We’re not November 2005, we’re March 2006”. So they go, “Oh, until when, March ’06?” I totally forbid my own soldiers to teach them such things. But companies that came before us have already taught them everything. Four-year-olds come to you with stuff like that.
Back to mappings. Back to mappings. Basically, you go over the house, looking through it. The only time I ever felt real pressure – because you have to do mapping because everyone’s doing it, so why not you – I go into this person’s home, I knock on the door, call the whole family. I did it at nine. I thought, if I do it any later than that, I’ll feel shitty.
People do it later, too? Yes. Wait, let me go over the mappings we actually do, which is in Abu Sneina, where… So I go into his home. Go in, look, go through his living room, I notice a flower pot: “Thank you, so-and-so, for your contribution to the mediation process between Palestinians and Israelis”. I was totally, I mean, what kind of home have I entered here, my first house on a mapping mission and what I see is this plant, a tribute. I continue and just feel really bad. I really felt like shit for searching his home.
What do you mean searching, down to the smallest detail? Depends whom you ask. If you ask my company commander, it’s down to the smallest detail. But again, no one in our unit, at least not in my company, not that I know of anyway, does it out of meanness. My commander really believes that it’s truly operational and that you can really find out something that way. I know him really not as a person who – he’s actually the opposite of hating. He would tell us, let’s say about when he was a platoon commander, and he really didn’t authorize his soldiers to do ‘straw widows’ (temporary commandeering of houses) and stuff like that, he’d make them sleep on the floor, not even sit on a couch. It’s something he always emphasized in his talks with us. That it’s something he really detests that he’s seen people do. But on the other hand, he also insisted that it be done. But okay, that’s already on the level of his operational approach and how he feels. So I went in, searched the house a bit, felt I couldn’t go on, went out. We pulled out, left, and all my soldiers also felt really shitty about it, big time.
When you say the soldiers felt shitty, was this something you talked about? Yes. Wait, I’ll go over what we did in Abu Sneina after that. Abu Sneina is where we’d do the mappings, house by house. I have no idea who thinks up these things, really. So far, in all the years of the army’s presence in Hebron, no one’s actually kept those mapping sheets. Every time a new company arrived, searched a thousand houses and threw all the documents into the classified garbage can, I think, end of story. It’s so ridiculous because, after all, you can learn a lot from a mapping and especially if you keep copies. So my own company commander, of course, being so meticulous, insisted that it be passed on from the battalion intelligence staff to the Shabak (Israel Security Agency). So now somehow he’s trying to institutionalize it. I don’t actually know whether it’s him insisting or the battalion commander, but it’s coming from somewhere, that okay, that’s it, now it’s organized and it won’t happen anymore that a battalion comes and says: We have to map everything, to know what’s going on. So we have the Abu Sneina area, where we do the organized mappings. (…)
Do you carry out patrols to make a show of force in the area? Patrol 30 is a show of force. To make the enemy feel pursued. A feeling of being pursued. What does that mean? Listen, first of all, I think this patrol 30 has existed way too long.