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Text testimonies They told us, “Dry them out”
catalog number: 570995
Rank: First Sergeant
Unit: Nahal, 931st Battalion
Area: Tulkarem area
period: 2001
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They told us, “Dry them out”
Rank: First Sergeant
Unit: Nahal, 931st Battalion
Area: Tulkarem area
period: 2001

It was just after the terrorist attack at the Dolphinarium Club [a Tel Aviv night club that was bombed in June 2001. Twenty-one Israelis were killed and more than one hundred injured] They wanted to establish a brigade on the seam line. So they sent us to the Taibe area. We were in Avnei Hefets, and our duty was to go on patrol and prevent the passage of illegal aliens. There’s an open field there to the north of Taibe, and we were stationed there. There was nothing to be done with the people there. The majority of those who cross are, of course, people going to work. We never caught—with the exception of some drug addict who lived in a cave, which was maybe the most interesting thing we came across, most of the people, all of the people we detained there, were people who tried to get into Israel to go to work. And there was nothing to be done with them, there weren’t any facilities to jail them. It’s impossible. So the procedure was just to take their ID, keep them there for a few hours, have them sit there, and then send them back home . . . And would you give them back their IDs? Yes, after a few hours. You catch someone, run his ID number, yes, Shabak, it never happened that they detained one of those people, you keep him on a rock for a few hours and continue with what you’re doing. There were some guys, some Russians, the crazy ones, I remember, they just grabbed someone . . . I once saw them, they were generally at a different post, they sat among themselves, the Russians went together to the post. And I was young, so I’d go wherever they assigned me, so one time they caught someone, and for no reason they decided they’d give him the treatment, meaning they’d take his ID. In principle they were at a lookout post, which they generally were—we were down below, they were on the lookout, and they’d say to us, “There’s someone crossing there.” So we’d go out, try to catch him. Sometimes we had some pickup truck, or we were on foot, you go, grab him, take his ID, make him spend a few hours in the sun or shade, depending on how you felt at the moment, and then you send him home. Yeah, it could be anywhere between two hours, between two and six to eight hours, it depends when you caught him. The procedures weren’t very clear, because they didn’t know what to do with these people. They said, “Dry them out.” “Drying them out” is pretty vague, it leaves room for the imagination . . . So these Russians, who were in principle at a lookout post, which was more of a screwing around and no exercise post, meaning they didn’t have to run from place to place. So by chance someone walked right by their post, and they grabbed him. They grabbed him, and tied him up straightaway. When we’d catch them, we’d sit them down, give them water . . . Do you sit everyone down together, or just wherever someone’s caught? It depends. Sometimes we’d catch a few people together, so we’d sit them down together, or we’d decide that we didn’t want them sitting together, “You sit here, you sit there.” So when the Russians caught him, they tied his hands behind his back, blindfolded him, took his picture in all kinds of poses, one with a weapon in the air and things like that, like they caught some serious terrorist or something. And it was just some guy on his way to work. Were there violent incidents? Not really, aside from that incident, I don’t know exactly what happened there, because I only arrived at the end. When we came to collect them, we saw that they were . . . they said, “Yeah, one second, we have to release this guy, cut his ties . . .” At the end of the shift at Abir, do you have to go back to the post? Yes, so we had to go get the Russian soldiers. And we saw that they’d caught this guy and done this stuff to him. I don’t remember incidents of violence there. Yes, there’s the issue of them knowing that we’re in control, right? But real violence? A-sahla Road (the “Tnuva Road”), Hebron. In the forefront, the road is open only to the Palestinians who live above the stores, which are permanently closed. Beyond the point where the soldier is standing, the road is “sterile,” off-limits to Palestinians. Which includes what? It includes that they don’t talk to you. You talk to them. You tell them what to do. Whoever talks, you say, “Shut up! I don’t want to know.” Because they’re always telling you about their family and whatever, saying, “I need to work and I need to . . .” You don’t care—“Shut up, sit!” and so they lose . . . I take their ID, and it’s gone. “Sit here, you won’t want to not be here when I get back.” They’re always there when you get back. No one goes anywhere without his ID.