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Text testimonies The authority around there
catalog number: 803386
Rank: First Sergeant
Unit: Givati - Shaked Battalion
Area: Ramallah and al-Bireh area
period: 2005 - 2008
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The authority around there
Rank: First Sergeant
Unit: Givati - Shaked Battalion
Area: Ramallah and al-Bireh area
period: 2005 - 2008

We were the younger combatant company. We were sent to the Halamish [settlement] area. I remember that when I was on my first checkpoint duty, a platoon sergeant came to show us that we were actually the authority around there. If we want someone to cross – he’ll cross. If we don’t – he won’t. Based on our judgment, of course. Does he look suspicious, ask him questions, etc.

Which checkpoint was that? I really don’t remember the name. A Palestinian village. A kind of temporary checkpoint, not a permanent one. And suddenly there’s alerts and pressure and the whole country’s in a state of paranoia.

So your sergeant talked about authority. What did he explain? He explained that if we think someone looks suspicious, we should inspect the vehicles. Not to hesitate to detain [someone] if we think… At first, he took one vehicle and detained him for 20-30 minutes. Just like that. Stopped him randomly and said, “You’re this and that, give me your papers, wait here,” and the guy is sitting and waiting in the car.

And the sergeant is checking his papers in the meantime? He checks them and then he starts asking him all sorts of questions. Then he let him wait for a few minutes, and only after 20-30 minutes, he let him go.

Did he give you criteria for identifying someone as a suspect, or does each [soldier] go by his own impression? There are signs, signs that mark someone as suspicious.

Such as? If a person is stressed, in a hurry, or looks like he’s sweating, or stutters, doesn’t have quick and clear answer,. A person without papers.

So what’s the procedure, what do you do? The platoon sergeant comes. The whole team, all four soldiers, continue meanwhile to let vehicles through. One soldier checks all the vehicles and if there is a suspect car, it has to pull over and wait. Then the sergeant, along with a soldier or two, inspects the vehicle, and checks all the relevant things to see whether that person should be allowed to continue or not.

How is that checked? The platoon sergeant, the guy in charge, is the one doing the talking. He questions the driver, investigates. The vehicle is inspected.

Is it turned inside out or is it just a superficial check? Depends how incriminating the signs are. If they’re very incriminating, the vehicle will be turned inside out.

Do you remember such a case? I remember that the first time I was on duty at a checkpoint… Never mind that you’re exhausted and weighed down by the ceramic bullet-proof vest and gear and all, you’re also very paranoid. Because every time you get an alert, and we did get alerts, it gets more and more stressful, especially before the holidays when you don’t know – will you fail or not. I once detained a vehicle just because of my authority, the uniform, for about 20 minutes.

Why? I don’t know. The vehicle looked too old, I didn’t really understand. Although the guy said, “I work in a garage”.

He had the right documents, permits, everything? His ID was okay, even the license plate number of the car was yellow (Israeli). I don’t know what made me do it, maybe mental stress. So you make him pull over and stand there for 20 minutes.