For the first five days we were in the same house. Most of the time we weren’t doing anything, really. There were explosions all the time, and the noise from the drones pierced your brain. Once in a while you hear them shout, ‘fire barrage’ and then everyone covers their ears and ‘rat-tat-tat…’ You stop everything and then keep going. After that we moved on to another house. We advanced to the next line of houses and then to the next. At no point did I see an enemy. There were no face-to-face engagements. Every house we entered, we were forbidden to enter through its door. Either you blow it up with an [anti-tank rocket], you make a hole, or a D9 (armored bulldozer) comes over and takes a wall down. There was lots of fire, lots. Did the guys from the battalion take any hits?
They did, but even those who did – none of them actually saw an enemy with their own eyes. You didn’t return fire?
We did, the whole area gets blown up – gets hit with heavy barrages. But you just fire kind of randomly, at the windows… It was very organized. There’s a dividing line, and you know that there are no forces of ours across it when you shoot. There isn’t a soul around, the streets are empty, no civilians. At no point did I see a single person who wasn’t a soldier. We fired a lot. In total we launched about 500grenades, I think. They were always directed at windows, doors, cars, but they were never direct. That’s policy, that’s what we’re taught, it’s also what’s taught in basic training. If you’re fired at – you open fire. It doesn’t matter where, in what direction; you show them that you’re responding. The first thing is to return a few bullets and then to take cover and get a sense of what’s going on. To show that we’re strong, that we respond and don’t go silent. We would fire heavy machine guns and grenade launchers, heavy fire. There were synchronized barrages – every night, once an hour, [all of us] fire a barrage together at all the houses, ‘rat-tat-tat’ we blow up all the windows in the area then go silent for a moment and see if there is any reaction, then another barrage, then go silent again. Did you identify fire in your direction from these areas?
Even if we didn’t. So why shoot there?
To try and trigger a response, to deter. Our objective at that time was not to eliminate anyone we saw – our objective was to blow up the two tunnels we were sitting right on top of. We kept this line for five days and made sure no one came near. Why would anyone come near? To die?