Why do you say that? Because it’s a small area, I’m not the first company [there], I’m not the last company. True, the Battalion itself doesn’t currently have information on what the house looks like from within, but somewhere in the IDF or Shin Bet (Secret Service) they have the information when needed. When we talked to the soldiers, we told them that it’s important for us to know, we need to know. On a personal level, as a Company Commander, it was important to me to enter all the houses bordering the Jewish community.
In the Kasbah? In the Kasbah, to see where there’s a passage and where there isn’t a passage, to prevent the possible infiltration of a terrorist – which doesn’t necessarily mean that one of the family members is a terrorist, but that another person can enter their house, and do it through them. It has operational importance from the point of view of the soldier, the soldier is more aware of the terrain when he’s in touch with the population.
Why? When he carries out these patrols all night and walks around there, then he knows the area well, and that’s very important because someone, in the scenario of a lone terrorist, stabbed someone and ran back in [to the Palestinian area], disappeared, and now he’s in the Kasbah. He was seen running in some direction, and now I say to patrol 30 (a foot patrol in Hebron’s Western Kasbah) “Get over to Junction 10 as fast as possible and block it.” He has to know the fastest way to get to Junction 10, so he must be familiar with the routes, which is why it’s important that he patrols there all the time, including on the rooftops. Meanwhile, in regards to the [Palestinian] population I felt that the army had a very strong desire, and an interest backed by the Jewish community, for them (the Palestinians) to know and see that the army is there all the time. The army is there, the army feels comfortable there, the army is on the terrain, the army is patrolling there. The moment you disappear from a certain place, it will be harder for you to get back in. Once you constantly have a hold on an area and you're present on the ground, if I regularly check IDs, then whoever’s forbidden from being there will think twice before he hangs around there. It’s a bit like placing a pole with red and blue [flashing police] light on the freeway. “I’m there.”
So basically, it's some kind of a control mechanism. Yes, when the mechanism works well – it’s much easier to come when you have specific, precise information about someone.
What’s the goal of the mission? To get to know the terrain and bolster intelligence information, that was how the mission was defined. For future use, if needed.
Who chooses the houses? I do, from within the terrain. But the choice is completely geographic, I mean, it's the area in which the houses weren’t mapped. I sketch: "from this junction to that junction, that’s your area for today. Enter all the houses in this area."
Who gives you that order? It comes from the Battalion, the Intelligence Officer and even from the brigade, which houses weren’t mapped. We always passed the information up to the brigade, because the regional brigade is permanently there, and the information is supposed to be kept there.
The guys get back from a night of mapping, with all their sketches; they bring them to you? What do you do with it? They pass it on to me, I hand it over to the battalion, and the battalion is supposed to transfer it to the brigade. Now, part of the information remains with the soldiers who were on the ground, and now they’re more familiar with it and the content of the homes, and know from which house you can move to which house. In the Kasbah, it can be a maze. Second, it [the information] reaches the Battalion’s Intelligence Officer who can keep, store and use this information if needed for some operation, and it certainly should be transferred up to the brigade. The brigade is supposed to keep this information.
You said that these houses might have already been mapped quite a few times, how does that happen? In my opinion, they wanted the forces on the ground, the ones that currently guard, the ones who rotate every four months, to fully get to know the area down below, the houses. The way to do that is mapping. It’s also an easy way to explain it to the soldiers.
Why? Because when you say to a soldier, ‘let’s enter a house just to get to know it,’ then it raises many more questions. You start asking yourself these questions: wait a minute, just to get to know it? Do I really have to get to know it now? Is it relevant? Is it irrelevant? Am I entering for no reason, At night? Not at night? When you tell him (the soldier) that you need it for intelligence information, to understand the interior of the houses, then it’s much better received. I was also told we need the intelligence about these houses. I’m telling you that logically, if every company spends four months there, and it’s such a small area, and so many companies were there, it’s impossible that these mappings don't happen in each and every house.
As someone who took part in officers’ debates, is the harm caused to the population taken into consideration? Is there any thought given to the implications of this activity? In this case of mappings, neither the harm nor the implications were taken into consideration. There were other situations when they said: okay, if we do it like this now, we’ll have a larger incident that will cause more damage and inflame [the situation] and may cause harm to more people, and we don’t want that to happen. And then it is taken into consideration.
How many mappings would your company do? I think my guys did 200 at the most.
Throughout the entire deployment? Deployment, four months.