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Text testimonies There was this ‘wild West’ atmosphere
catalog number: 704998
Rank: First Sergeant
Unit: Nahal Brigade
Area: Jenin area
period: 2006 - 2007
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There was this ‘wild West’ atmosphere
Rank: First Sergeant
Unit: Nahal Brigade
Area: Jenin area
period: 2006 - 2007

Every night would usually end with about 20 arrests. Our average was higher, and we’d end up with a few X’s (soldiers mark an X on their rifle to signify a person they have killed), and that went over fine. There was this ‘wild West’ atmosphere. There’s a huge list of names (of wanted people), so we’d choose something that looked doable and every night try to carry out at least 2-3 arrests. Usually, in order to get them out, we’d surround the house with vehicles, come there quietly at night, and then whoever had been to an Arabic course would call out to them on the loudspeaker to come outside. Usually, we didn’t want to tell them who we were looking for specifically, so we’d try to get them all out. I remember once, we were on an arrest mission and it was a home that several families shared. We threw a stun grenade to kind of wake them up, because it was night-time after all, and some old woman had an epileptic fit, I don’t know if it was really epilepsy, but something like that. We started taking care of her and she was hysterical and the whole family was on top of us. For a long time, we did that every night, coming to a house, sometimes really surrounding it, at night, calling out on the loudspeaker, throwing stun grenades, sometimes opening fire. Sometimes it ended lightly, sometimes less. A lot of times, we had to search the houses after they came out. We’d go in, get the whole family out, tell them to get out. It was usually a pretty weird sight, a whole family – the Palestinians have big families, they live in houses with three floors or something. All the mothers would come out with the kids, and the men were usually separated from them. We’d go in to search, and usually we didn’t find anything very interesting, I guess because stuff was hidden, if it there was any. Sometimes we’d find weapons. We usually ended up with one or two people shackled and blindfolded. We had to bring them to a detention facility and there were lots of delays, so there were soldiers who took their pictures of themselves with the detainees with their cellphone cameras, and I’d have to tell them off. Stuff that people post on Facebook these days. Sometimes there was too much violence, but there was usually a reason, it was because of resistance. Let’s say that in most cases, if someone cooperated with us, there was no problem. If someone resisted, swore at us, was a bit aggressive and such, he would cop it. I remember that often, they’d really tighten the plastic handcuffs in order to teach them not to mess with us next time. I remember that a lot of times, I had to ask soldiers to change the handcuffs because, since I was the one in charge of the infirmary, I couldn’t pass someone on in such condition, with his hands all purple. The ones who resisted, their arrest was more aggressive and brutal.

Do you know whom you’re arresting? You know, you have general information about the people, sometimes you have pictures, sometimes not, and you know a bit about who and what they are. Often, it’s people who aren’t important and are defined as “close to X” or “know X”, who have to be questioned.