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Text testimonies Susya is the “wild west”
catalog number: 308802
Rank: Lieutenant
Unit: Paratroopers engineering Unit
Area: Hebron area
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Susya is the “wild west”
Rank: Lieutenant
Unit: Paratroopers engineering Unit
Area: Hebron area

Susya is the “wild west”. We were there in that whole area between Susya and Arad, so there’s this wide opening [in the fence] that Palestinians use to illegally enter Israel.

Because the separation fence isn’t built up there? There’s no fence at all throughout that whole area, from Arad to Susya, all that area. They enter Israel from Yatta village into [the Israeli towns of] Arad and Be’er Sheva in these off-road vehicles. Our aim was simply to catch all the illegals. Obviously it doesn’t make sense, because thousands of illegals cross into Israel every day, it’s unreasonable, but your aim is to slow it down.

How does one slow it down? So it’s the “wild west”. We put up a day-camp where we’d eat, sit, rest, sleep, read a book, and we were alerted every minute. There were places where vehicles would always be crossing, so we’d lie in wait for them inside folds of ground, and as soon as they got out of their cars, we’d chase them like in the “wild west”, with our vehicles, going 80-100 k/h.

On roads or over the terrain? Over the terrain. And they’d drive like maniacs. We caught a Savana van there with 26 men in the trunk. The army doesn’t care about the illegals. It cares about the drivers and the vehicles. The illegals can’t be stopped. The ones who transport them make it much bigger, and they make money off it. It’s a whole industry. So when you catch them, the order is to arrest the driver and one more man as witness that the driver was the one taken into custody, and bring them in.

Just anyone? Yes, anyone there.

How do you choose? You ask if any of them is willing to stay. They always volunteer, because they know him (the driver). And you take his vehicle, that’s the most important bit.

What do all the rest do? Walk home for miles and miles.

You leave them there? Yes. It’s insane, no doubt about it.

When you take the driver and the witness and leave all the rest, how do you know they won’t walk into Israel? We don’t care. First of all, we don’t know that. Second, we have no control over it.

Where do you bring the driver and the witness? Headquarters, I don’t remember where.

And where are they taken from there? They go to the Shabak (Israel Security Agency) and the vehicle is taken away. There’s a huge car park there, and we compete to see who can bring in the most vehicles.

And all those 26 men you described could walk into Israel? They walk home. Israel is a long way to walk. If you catch them around Susya, they can’t reach Israel. Usually they go back home. But it’s an insane walk, too. Really insane.

How many men did you catch like that? Lots, lots, lots. Endlessly.

Did they ever possess weapons? No. Once we caught these guys who stole metal, but no weapons.