What the hell can you do with 10 Shekels after being exploded to pieces?
During 2004, several months prior to my discharge, my battalion was stationed in the Nablus area. It was the time of the Second Intifada, perhaps not its peak as it was during 2001-2002, but still the Palestinian city centers remained terror strongholds that executed numerous terror attacks in the heart of Israel. Our missions were diverse, they varied from routine security to targeted counter terror operations deep inside hostile territory. One of the sector’s major points of interest was Hawara Checkpoint that, by the way, does not exist anymore, and was the southern entry and exit point of the city of Nablus. I served as the Battalion CO’s (commanding officer) radio operator and therefore experienced things from his point of view, unlike a standard soldier.
It was an early morning in March that year when I joined the Battalion CO and his team to Hawara Checkpoint following a report of suspicious activity in the area. As we arrived to the checkpoint we approached a female MP (military police) that was on duty and was in the middle of inspecting a young boy maybe 8 or 9 years old. By her side, on the concrete wall, was a child’s Spiderman backpack. I picked up the backpack to inspect it and immediately noticed something suspicious – the bag was too heavy. I opened the bag to inspect its content and found an explosive device with a cellphone attached to it hiding in the bottom of the backpack underneath games and dolls. At that point, the CO and the MP called for an “explosive device routine” and quickly cleared the area of people. I grabbed the boy and pulled him behind our jeep that we used as a shield. The assumption was that the device can explode in any second and the fear was from a combined terrorist ambush. The situation was unimaginable. On the one hand we are facing a boy carrying a bomb and on the other hand it is pretty obvious that he is terrified and does not have a clue regarding what was in the bag. Eventually a specialist came and detonated the charge in a controlled manner.
The most amazing thing was revealed in the boy’s interrogation. The boy revealed that he was given the backpack and sent to the checkpoint for 10 Shekels ($2.5). The terror activists simply sent him to the checkpoint without explaining anything. I remember thinking to myself what the hell can you do with 10 Shekels after being exploded to pieces? Needless to say that if had the bomb indeed exploded there would have been many Palestinian casualties from the people in the checkpoint.