In Ramadan of 2003 or 2002, it was sometime during Ramadan, we went out to make an arrest. There were the usual rules of engagement about arresting a suspect and so on. Who gave them?
The company commander, during the briefing. It’s all just a question of how he’s feeling. The sector brigade commander comes up with the orders for opening fire. He’s got one or two battle procedures and he gives the orders for opening fire as he sees fit. Sometimes it’s the . . . in the best case it’s the brigade commander. When the situation’s more urgent, it’s the battalion commander. He decides. There is no clear procedure regarding orders to open fire. But what were the rules of engagement in this particular incident?
The rules of engagement for arrest of a suspect. The procedure for arresting a suspect is, “Stop, stop or I’ll shoot,” shooting in the air, blah, blah, blah . . . we never use it during actual operations. The procedure for arresting a suspect is the same as an expedited suspect arrest, which is, “Waqf—stop,” boom. If he doesn’t stop and put his hands up in the second when you yell waqf, then you shoot to kill. Meaning, you don’t shoot at his legs? You don’t shoot in the air?
Stop, boom. And often the “stop” is just for protocol. Boom, stop. Something like that. Basically, we went in to make an arrest, it was during Ramadan. There was some confusion—one of the teams wasn’t in the right position, which we only knew afterward, in the debriefing. We do an arrest with several teams that surround the house, and there’s an operations team which comes to take the house. The operations team spotted a man in the alley, he had something in his hand. They yelled “Waqef” ("stop" in Arabic). The man started running, and they started shooting at him, chasing him. The man escaped into the alley where the team had taken up the wrong position, and basically we had a situation of friendly fire, where one team chasing after the man and shooting at him was actually shooting toward another team. Now, this other team thought they were being shot, saw a figure, and shot at it, at this guy. They shot him. Again, they verified the kill with grenades. Where were you when they shot at him?
I was on another team. And you know about all this from the debriefing, and because they were part of your group and you talked about it afterward? Yes. And I was just a few meters away. I didn’t see it myself, I was watching the corner of the house, but the incident happened while I was there. They shot at him by mistake because they thought— They were being fired at. And they saw something in his hand and were afraid it was explosives. They shot at him, then verified the kill. Who verified the kill?
Guys from the team, according to the verification procedure they know—they threw a grenade and then put a bullet in his head. Turns out the guy was holding a drum. What did we learn later? That there’s a custom during Ramadan, at four in the morning people go out and start drumming to wake everyone up for breakfast, before the fast. We didn’t know. If we’d known, if someone had, you get it? It’s not just that we didn’t know, ordinary soldiers, but no one else in the platoon knew either. No one in the IDF bothered to tell us that during Ramadan at such and such an hour people go around holding something, with a drum in their hands, and maybe you need to tone down the rules of engagement, maybe you need to be more careful. No one bothered to tell us, and because of that this man died. Because of our ignorance.