Wow, the settlers, that was completely unreal. That's something I really remember, and it really scarred me. A Jew was murdered in Huwara. I remember that after that, there were some ‚price tag‚ incidents (acts of vandalism and violence undertaken by settlers against the Palestinian population on ideological grounds. On a number of occasions they have included murder), there were, like, some things that the Jews did. Then she actually came to us at the base and spoke with us, and we all sat and listened to her, even the officer.
Who is "she"? Some woman from Yitzhar. She actually came, and I remember we actually sat down, we listened to her. She said "Listen, this incident happened that’s really, it’s unthinkable. You’ll have to be understanding if Jews show their frustration here in the coming days." Like, that, I really remember. And I was, I like, died, I don’t know what. [I wanted] to hit her in the head with the butt of my rifle or something so that she’d get the hell out of there, really. Like, somehow it always feels to me as if the Jews [there] make much more of a mess.
Explain. Aside from the fact that first of all, they came to the base, like, twice and knocked over the chemical [toilets], knocked down the tent. That happened about once or twice. And there’s a sense that the Jews, because they know that no one would ever really do anything to them, allow themselves to do much more than the Arabs. So there might be fewer incidents where Jews have confrontations with Palestinians, but when there’s a confrontation with Jews, it’s always more significant. If Jews are involved in something like we said, arson or something, it always ends in more significant incidents, because then the military gets, like, entangled.
What’s the entanglement? What's the entanglement? That you, there are Jews that you’re allegedly supposed to protect. But in practice, the Jews started this wrong thing, but now the Palestinians are heading out and you as an army, you’re totally programmed that you need to drive the Palestinians back into the village, and you need to, like, speak to the Jews nicely, politely ask them to go back. And the guys in Yitzhar are really difficult guys, it’s truly the bottom of the right-wing [barrel] in Israel. It's all kinds of guys who came to the yeshiva, who came from broken families, I don’t know, and they’re also people with a very violent character who also have extreme opinions. And that’s it, when it comes to such cases with them, even though they’re really dangerous people, you treat them more gently because they’re, like, the ones you’re supposed to protect.
What’s your authority in the event that you see a settler behaving violently? Like, as someone who’s supposed to maintain order? Do you know? I don’t know if we had authority. Maybe we had authority and we weren’t informed of it. I don’t remember there being a settler arrest or anything.
Do you know if you were allowed to, say, arrest a settler? Truthfully, no. I know we were allowed [to arrest] Palestinians, as for Jews I don’t know. Jews I don’t remember.
How do you explain that? You say that Yitzhar is a place that is well known, and you, it also sounds like you experienced many of these violent incidents, sometimes against you, sometimes against Palestinians. How can it actually be that you don’t know what your authority is regarding settlers? It was like something you needed [to do] many times. All the time. I – my feeling was that the army was constantly really scared to mess with the settlers. That it wasn’t even an option to bring them to any kind of justice, or try to [think] how you prevent this thing next time. Like, with the Palestinians there was always this thought that "if they [do] that (riot), then we’ll deter them." But the Jews, because it's a messed up situation, and they're also citizens of the State of Israel, but on the other hand they’re really the ones who cause, I don’t want to say all the problems – the Palestinians were also involved in things – I’ll be fair, but I’ll also say that the Jews cause many problems within that. And like, it feels as if you have two monsters in the room, and one monster you’ll try, I don’t know what, to kill with a bayonet, and you’ll try to beat back the other monster by petting it. It won’t work.