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Text testimonies To seize as many illegals as possible
catalog number: 48558
Rank: Other
Unit: Border Police
Area: Israel
period: 2002
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To seize as many illegals as possible
Rank: Other
Unit: Border Police
Area: Israel
period: 2002

There was this 5-1 patrol authorized around Umm al-Fahm. And there was a patrol on foot, for some reason called ‘lookout watch’ although most of the time it was not doing that at all, it was simply a foot-patrol amongst the trees there, meant to seize as many illegals (Palestinians illegally inside Israel) as possible. In theory, catch every one of them, check his ID, and of course see if it’s green or orange, namely Palestinian. Check it against the diarist who would check it on the computer and if some sort of investigation is called for – he is to be detained. If not – “go home!” get back. And of course make sure he doesn’t go around the trees right back into Israel.

You said there are huge numbers of illegals. Sure, and it cannot be totally prevented. That’s why when I’m asked for my opinion of the Separation Fence, politically I cannot oppose it one-hundred percent. Something has to set a border because it was really… And they crossed over, they crossed every single day. You cannot ignore the fact that they did. Our aim was to prevent the maximum possible, and especially by this ‘lookout watch,’ on foot, usually two soldiers, often neither of them a commander - simply two combatants. Often I’d be with a combatant who was younger than me and I was in command, and we simply hid in spots where we knew we would not be seen, among the trees, and we’d suddenly leap out, and “come here, show me your ID” and all of that.

Was there violence? All the time.

What kind? First of all, just plain harassment. Keeping them on their feet, because if you’re really gung-ho and got up that morning rearing to go and catch some, you could easily hunt down thirty people in a half-hour. The point is you had to detain them. You couldn’t get them and check them out one by one. You had to catch the guy, seat him and wait for others. And often they would come in large groups. Again, when they move in large groups obviously they’re not out on a terrorist mission, that’s not exactly the recommended mode of action… So you catch them and make them stand in formation.

Formation? Yes. Stand in formation, and there’s that famous Border Patrol rhyme - Wahad hummus, wahad ful, ana bahibbak Mishmar HaGvul (One plate of hummus, one plate of beans, I love you Border Patrol)… They’re made to sing it. Sing and hop. Just like rookies, the kind of hazing stuff in basic training, about which soldiers’ parents are always raising hell. It’s the same thing. Only much worse. If anyone laughs, or the soldiers decide he’s laughed, he gets punched. Why did you laugh? Boom, a fist. He doesn’t really have to laugh to get that punch. I feel like punching him. Why did you laugh? Boom.

How long does this last? It can last for hours. It depends how bored the soldiers are, they can stretch it out for two hours. It’s an eight-hour shift. Got to get through it somehow.

And who is made to stand in formation? Everyone, all age groups.

Women? Children? Elderly people? Yes. Whoever shows up. Whoever shows up, stands in formation. There were the more sensitive soldiers who’d let the women and elderly go. I’d say the elderly were less harassed. And there were soldiers who’d harass the elderly. Like in any society, this company too, some soldiers abused more and others less. Some had absolutely no restraint and abused anyone.