Caution rather than Speed
We were carrying out an operation to stop a very senior official. We were asked to
avoid injuring him, if possible. We were told that if he is not using a weapon against
us, we should not injure him, because the information he had could save lives. We also
wanted to make sure that he did not run away when we told him: “Mr. Mohammed,
please exit the house.” In order to achieve this, we had to control the entire surroundings
of the house, including the houses of neighbors who had nothing to do with this guy.
We quietly entered the house, explaining to the family what was going to happen-
‘we are the army, we are carrying out a mission, please go to this and that room’. We
carried out a quick search to make sure that there were no weapons or mobiles with
which they could turn us in. One of the soldiers kept an eye on them, while the rest of
the team ascended to the 4th floor.
At this stage, we were waiting for another force to come from the other side and report
that it took control over the other side of the house, so that we would know that the house
was clear. I was on the 4th floor and one of the soldiers was coming from downstairs,
telling me: “come down here, one of the family members is not feeling well, he needs
to be rushed to the hospital.” Downstairs, I saw what was happening- the grandfather
was breathing heavily, his forehead was sweating, with an irregular pulse. You don’t
have to be a cardiologist to understand that this man needs to be hospitalized and our
combat medic could not help him.
We contacted our regimental doctor and explained the situation. He told us: “you have
to hospitalize him, try to blockade the entire house as soon as possible, so that when
you evacuate him, you will not be exposed in a manner that will harm the operation.”
You must understand that in such cases you cannot call the Red Crescent and evacuate
him to a Palestinian hospital, because if he tells them ‘the army is in my house’, whether
by purpose or by mistake, we would be exposed.
Therefore, we had to evacuate him with our forces to an Israeli hospital and later
transfer him to a hospital in Nablus.
We had to make a very critical decision, because in the army we have one basic
principal: caution rather than speed. This means, for example, that I can walk from
this wall to the other in an hour and no one will hear me, because I did this quietly, step
by step. And I can cross to the other wall in three seconds, by running, but then I will
make noise. This principal applies when you get to the target before the other forces,
who were delayed because they took these safety measures.
When I am required, due to someone’s cardiac problem, to act faster, and ask the
other forces to move faster, this means that they may be exposed, leading to disastrous
results. But this is a calculated risk, because we understand that someone here needs
hospitalization as soon as possible, and we cannot just put a band aid and tell him: ‘we
will evacuate you after 4 hours, when we complete the operation’. So, we asked the
other forces to arrive at the destination as soon as possible and then started evacuating
him. We opened a stretcher to be carried by 6 soldiers.
This is one of these situations when you try to do your best to fulfill the mission,
because at the end of the day, you came to arrest a terrorist and not a child who hung
signs of incitement propaganda, and on the other hand, you understand that you are in
the house of a family whose only sin was living next to a terrorist and had nothing to
do with this matter.
We managed to evacuate him via an army ambulance to Beilinson Hospital in Israel
and to complete the mission without casualties. But whoever knows the Casbah of
Nablus knows that getting to this place at 3 am and then returning these 200-300 meters
to each direction is something you would rather avoid.