|Unit:||188 Armored Corps|
|Location:||Zayta, West Bank|
An Israeli soldier provides a testimony to Breaking the Silence explaining why he chose to break his silence and speak out. "There's a story [which] in my eyes is the weirdest, the most messed up and reflects the reality of ruling over civilians for the sake of ruling."
Soldier: "There's a story [which] in my eyes is the weirdest, the most messed up and reflects the reality of ruling over civilians for the sake of ruling. Now, I say 'stop' for a second. The army doesn't do it out of an evil will to control human beings. It's just that in order to maintain that situation (military rule in the territories), it's what has to be done.
We would enter villages, for example we would enter Zayta. Zayta is a small village without many people. We enter the village, the village center, set up a flying checkpoint. Traffic spikes. A few vehicles, we drive up a small hill, provide cover. What we do is check vehicles. What is checking vehicles? To look in the trunk, to check their IDs, and let them drive away. Now, I don't really know what I'm checking [for]. They told me [to] check IDs, but they didn't give the number of a suspect in the village. And even if Ahmed Yassin was there, I wasn’t told about it. Nothing. "Check them, check their vehicle."
Now, what exactly am I supposed to check in his vehicle? He's driving in his own village. Even if there were knives there it’s, you know, it’s like, farmers can also work with them. It’s not... They’re not even in Israel. So you enter the village, you check them, I don't even know what I'm checking. You cause a traffic jam in a village of about 200-300 residents. You disrupt their daily life. After two hours you just pack up and leave."
Interviewer: "So what do you check?"
Soldier: "Nothing. I don't know what I'm checking at all. As a commander I'm telling you, as the person responsible for the situation, I had no idea what I was doing."
Interviewer: "What were you told was the purpose of the mission?"
Soldier: "Security check."
Interviewer: "The purpose of which, was?"
Soldier: "I don't know, and also on this particular matter I asked for clarifications, I asked to understand what I'm doing. What for? What’s the goal? Am I looking for someone? Am I looking for some terrorist?"
Interviewer: "And how do you understand the purpose of the mission?"
Soldier: "I think it was just to show them that ours is bigger. In other words, that here we are entering the village and we'll check whomever we want. We'll now enter the village, and everyone will get in line in their cars, and they'll pass through when I tell them to. And that's the gist of it. And as a soldier you don't think about it. The truth is, I only thought about it afterwards. And you know what? I did enter their village, check them, and I didn't have any computer for me to type their ID numbers and check if he, if he's a suspicious person."
Interviewer: "Whose a suspicious person?"
Soldier: "Honestly, listen, I don't even know what to tell you, I’ll tell you the truth. I don't know what a suspicious person is inside their own village. It's just people driving around their village. I can pass on [their information] to the operations room, and they'll, like [check], and see if he's a suspicious person or something like that, but generally..."
Interviewer: "Who would you pass on to the operations room?"
Soldier: "A young man, a beard would increase the chances, any person who seemed to fit the stereotype of a terrorist, [I would say to myself], "Fine, okay, check his number with the operations room." I, specifically, wouldn't do it as much, but others who were with me did it, like, freely. Not too much though, because ultimately your goal is to get back to the post and chill."
Interviewer: "So what do you check with the operations room?"
Soldier: "Listen, I take the ID, I don't, I don't even check with the operations room. I look at the ID, make a face like someone who's in the know, and hand him back the ID."
Interviewer: "And what do you see in the ID?"
Soldier: "Nothing, there's no point."
Interviewer: "So you just look at the ID, return it to him, and ...?"
Soldier: "Open the trunk, open that," I look in the trunk and make a face like someone who's in the know."
Interviewer: "Every vehicle like that?"
Soldier: "When there were serious checkposts, yes, pretty much every vehicle."
Interviewer: "Did you ever find anything?"
Soldiers: "No, the truth is, we didn't?"