Dec 7, 2013
Testimonies by Israeli Veterans From Gaza and the Occupied Territories
Posted on Nov 27, 2012
By Breaking the Silence, TomDispatch
Anything else you remember from that night?
A small thing, but it bothered me—one house that they just destroyed. They have a dog for weapons searches, but they didn’t bring him; they just wrecked the house. The mother watched from the side and cried. Her kids sat with her and stroked her.
What do you mean, they just destroyed the house?
They smashed the floors, turned over sofas, threw plants and pictures, turned over beds, smashed the closets, the tiles. There were other things—the look on the people’s faces when you go into their house. And after all that, they were left tied up and blindfolded in the school for hours. The order came to free them at four in the afternoon. So that was more than twelve hours. There were investigators from the security services there who interrogated them one by one.
No. We didn’t even find any weapons. The brigade commander claimed that the Shin Bet did find some intelligence, that there were a lot of guys there who throw stones.
2. Naval Blockade
Location: Gaza Strip
It’s mostly punishment. I hate that: “They did this to us, so we’ll do that to them.” Do you know what a naval blockade means for the people in Gaza? There’s no food for a few days. For example, suppose there’s an attack in Netanya, so they impose a naval blockade for four days on the entire Strip. No seagoing vessel can leave. A Dabur patrol boat is stationed at the entrance to the port, if they try to go out, within seconds the soldiers shoot at the bow and even deploy attack helicopters to scare them. We did a lot of operations with attack helicopters—they don’t shoot much because they prefer to let us deal with that, but they’re there to scare people, they circle over their heads. All of a sudden there’s a Cobra right over your head, stirring up the wind and throwing everything around.
And how frequent were the blockades?
Very. It could be three times one month, and then three months of nothing. It depends.
The blockade goes on for a day, two days, three days, four, or more than that?
I can’t remember anything longer than four days. If it was longer than that, they’d die there, and I think the IDF knows that. Seventy percent of Gaza lives on fishing—they have no other choice. For them it means not eating. There are whole families who don’t eat for a few days because of the blockade. They eat bread and water.
3. Shoot to Kill
Unit: Engineering Corps
During the operations in Gaza, anyone walking around in the street, you shoot at the torso. In one operation in the Philadelphi corridor, anyone walking around at night, you shoot at the torso.
How often were the operations?
Daily. In the Philadelphi corridor, every day.
When you’re searching for tunnels, how do people manage to get around—I mean, they live in the area.
It’s like this: You bring one force up to the third or fourth floor of a building. Another group does the search below. They know that while they’re doing the search there’ll be people trying to attack them. So they put the force up high, so they can shoot at anyone down in the street.
How much shooting was there?
Say I’m there, I’m up on the third floor. I shoot at anyone I see?
But it’s in Gaza, it’s a street, it’s the most crowded place in the world.
No, no, I’m talking about the Philadelphi corridor.
So that’s a rural area?
Not exactly, there’s a road, it’s like the suburbs, not the center. During operations in the other Gaza neighborhoods it’s the same thing. Shooting, during night operations—shooting.
It there any kind of announcement telling people to stay indoors?
They actually shot people?
They shot anyone walking around in the street. It always ended with, “We killed six terrorists today.” Whoever you shot in the street is “a terrorist.”
That’s what they say at the briefings?
The goal is to kill terrorists.
What are the rules of engagement?
Whoever’s walking around at night, shoot to kill.
During the day, too?
They talked about that in the briefings: whoever’s walking around during the day, look for something suspicious. But something suspicious could be a cane.
4. Elimination Operation
Unit: Special Forces
Location: Gaza Strip
There was a period at the beginning of the Intifada where they assassinated people using helicopter missiles.
This was at the beginning of the Second Intifada?
Yes. But it was a huge mess because there were mistakes and other people were killed, so they told us we were now going to be doing a ground elimination operation.
Is that the terminology they used? “Ground elimination operation”?
I don’t remember. But we knew it was going to be the first one of the Intifada. That was very important for the commanders and we started to train for it. The plan was to catch a terrorist on his way to Rafah, trap him in the middle of the road, and eliminate him.
Not to arrest him?
No, direct elimination. Targeted. But that operation was canceled, and then a few days later they told us that we’re going on an arrest operation. I remember the disappointment. We were going to arrest the guy instead of doing something groundbreaking, changing the terms. So the operation was planned…
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