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Text testimonies You feel like you just arrested Dr. Doolittle
catalog number: 394855
Rank: First Sergeant
Unit: Nahal Anti Tank Unit
Area: Hebron area
period: 2012
categories:
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You feel like you just arrested Dr. Doolittle
Rank: First Sergeant
Unit: Nahal Anti Tank Unit
Area: Hebron area
period: 2012

You come back from a patrol, suddenly you see an Arab handcuffed at the base’s security post while next to him is a cage with a parrot (the testifier appears to be referring to goldfinches, often captured and sold by Palestinian trappers as pets). You feel like you just arrested Dr. Doolittle. They’re held for two hours at the post and then he’s released. A day later you’re already chasing after the same guy, you already recognize him.

What was the story? They catch parrots, rare birds, probably sell them. You get a report about where he (the trapper) is coming from, you go to that point, see him from afar, approach, he runs away. If he doesn’t run away you talk to him and say to him, “This is not allowed, it’s wrong, come with us.” [He] comes without resisting. If he starts running because he already knows it’s forbidden, then you run after him, try to catch him, running with a ceramic [armor] and a [combatant] vest. How fast are you? It depends on you, but it’s very hard to be fast. ]You[ catch him, bring him in. Many times you don’t catch him. I have chased without catching.

How long did he sit by the base’s security guard? Two hours, an hour.

And then who took him? He went home.

Were you told to release him? Yes. Sometimes you drop him off, it depends whether there’s a car that’s just leaving.

And what about the parrot? The parrot? Good question. I think [it] stayed with us. You confiscate his cage with the parrot. You release the parrot, obviously, and he (the Palestinian arrestee) sits at the base’s security post. That’s the arrest procedure for those who are suspected of something minor. You sit them down for two hours at the base’s security post. Whoever comes to replace you, you tell him, “Release him in half an hour.”

What’s the rationale? I wish I knew. I don’t know. Maybe it deters him, maybe he says, “Next time I’ll get in trouble.” I think a record is kept. They (the Palestinians) have to walk around with their ID in their pocket. If it’s the same guy [who is caught a second time], I believe maybe after that there’s more serious punishment. I don’t know. Bottom line is, you’ve got an Arab sitting at the base’s security post daily, handcuffed and bound – each time it’s someone else – for this nonsense. What else was there in that deployment? Lots of chasing copper burners. They want electric cables that have copper fibers, apparently they sell them. So they burn everything and it pollutes the environment. They burn everything [and this way] they’re left with just the copper.

What’s the problem with that? The environment. It was an area of deployment where for eighty percent of its activities you could have brought in “Let the Animals Live” (an Israeli animal rights and environmental organization similar to WWF) to do the work. The routine security tasks are done while you’re at it. I guess the JNF (the Jewish National Fund, a not-for-profit organization which plants and maintains forests as one of its main activities) is not going to run across the [separation] barrier after a copper burner near a Palestinian village, [so] they send the army. [You get] a report: “Copper burner.” You drive to the barrier, already seeing black smoke on the top of the hill on its other side. ]You[ open the gate, walk towards him. He flees? You run after him. He stands? You say, “Shalom, ya Salaam,” bring an Arabic speaker even and talk to him. “Listen sir, this is not okay, we can’t allow this, come with us.” [He] comes with you. [He] runs? You’ve chased him? Then he probably understands already, you don’t need to have that conversation anymore. [You] cuff him, take him to the base. From there on? Not your business. You’ve done your work.

And they take him from there? Depends. If they (the Shin Bet Security Service) want him, yes. Usually, no.