Breaking the Silence – Testimony – “Knock on every door”

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testimony catalog number: 13980
rank: Staff Sergeant
unit: Nahal Brigade
place: Qalandiya
period: April 2002

We were alerted to Qalqiliya. There we carried out what – amongst ourselves, I don’t remember what the official name was – we called it operation “Knock on Every Door” (the name of the annual door-to-door fundraiser of the Israel cancer society).

Why “Knock on Every Door”?

We simply went from house to house, neighborhood to neighborhood, to every single house no matter what time of day or night, around the clock, entering all possible houses. Regardless of having any intelligence information or not, searching all of Qalqiliya. This was in fact my first encounter with civilians and I was there with guys from Givati and Golani (infantry brigades), especially Givati and the Bedouin battalion who already had previous experience with Palestinian civilians. Their conduct was… First of all, their attitude towards the house they were entering – looking straight away for things to steal.

Looting?

Looting, first off. As soon as they enter a house they look for something to steal. Money, a cigarette packet on the table, sometimes even food. Anything. And on the way, breaking, shattering everything, closets, tearing clothes, curtains, everything.

Everything that cannot be stolen gets broken?

Anything that cannot be stolen gets broken. It was this kind of method of passing from house to house, no matter what time of day or night, shutting the whole family inside a single room and then searching the entire house. No intelligence, I’m certain they had no intelligence, nothing. They would simply proceed from one house to the next. We go on, take a few hours to rest, then go back into the town to search again and again and again. (…)

Would large amounts of money be taken?

Qalqiliya meant large quantities of things, huge. Guys would take all kinds of lighters and special cigarettes home to their families.

The commanders paid no attention?

Not at all. I don’t remember anything like that. I’m sure the commanders were involved as well as everyone else.

Actually come and ruin the house?

There were houses there that were literally trashed. Windows, flower pots, sofas.

And where was the family all that time?

The family would be kept in one of the rooms. I don’t remember a single case where a member of the family tried to resist what was happening in the house (…) We would take out detainees, kids, teenage boys. I remember someone who tried to escape, some boy. I think he was frightened. Eventually nothing was found on him, he was nobody, but I think he got scared. Our guys surrounded and caught him. And I remember coming out and one Givati soldier and one Druze soldier who were responsible for him – after shackling and blindfolding him – got an order to get him in to a vehicle. It was already outside, after taking him out of the Achzarit. They had to get him into the vehicle. They simply gripped him and threw him in, jumped right in after him and beat him to a pulp. I passed them by in the Achzarit.

How old was this boy?

He looked about 14-15, a kid. Even less. He looked younger. I was in shock and at that point you don’t want to say anything, you don’t even think about saying anything because a second ago you had just finished about 15-16 hours inside the town, you stink, and all you want to do is get in your tent and catch a few hours of sleep. You don’t care, you don’t even think about this.

And they got orders to throw him into the vehicle?

They had their orders to throw him into the vehicle. They changed that to getting him into the vehicle by way of… roughing him up at the same time. 

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