In what ways do you have interactions with settlers in Hebron?In ways of every single Friday having dinner and regular Saturday lunch at [the homes of] families in Kiryat Arba. Did you use to go?Of course, certainly. They liked my platoon specifically. Was there a family that you would always go to?Yes. The entire platoon? Those who weren’t guarding, yes. 15 people seated at the table, an entire platoon. From the platoon, not including the family.Not including the family. And you go like that every week?We do. And when “prayers’ alert” (a period of time when settlers walk through a Palestinian neighbourhood to attend prayers in large numbers, during which soldiers are tasked with guarding them) is over the company commander joins too if he wants. There were two company commanders, one who wouldn’t join like for his own reasons, one that was good friends with the family. How did you end up with this family in the first place? Do they have [official] roles?They invite [us], it’s well known that they invite and pamper.
Do you have the option not to go to this?Of course, of course, totally. It’s really really not mandatory, no one forces anyone. But there isn’t a soldier who will say no to homemade food on Friday. When you’re at the Red House (a combined military base and residential compound for settlers) you get tossed a large tray with chicken from the base.
You would go there from the Red House?Yes, we would cross the valley and walk there. Listen, people would fight over it in the combat placement (the scheduled list of guard shifts) to get to these things. To not be on a mission in order to eat.To not be on a mission in order to eat: “I’ll be [on guard duty] during Friday dinner but you’ll be [on guard duty] during Saturday lunch so we can go there.”What is the dynamic in a meal like that?Nothing, a great dynamic. Happy, talking. Like, really really when I was there I really felt okay and it was fun and it was tasty and I would really look forward to these meals. There wasn’t much substantive conversation, they really were careful not to say things that you don’t have to, because they do say things that settlers say by virtue of being settlers, yeah?What for example?They actually develop a military language because they do it for every battalion that comes, they know how to talk military, they know it and they cosy up to the officers.