We Conduct the Arrests in a Respectful Manner, asking the Questions in Fluent Arabic
“Arrests” were the code name for any entrance of the army into the West Bank. We
carried out arrests several times a week, in order to directly supervise the situation on
the ground. Prior to the arrests we would coordinate with the Palestinian Authority,
cross a checkpoint, then enter the suspect’s house.
Sometimes the ‘suspect’ was a person who just wanted to come with us and needed
us to stage an arrest to avoid trouble from the local population. So we would come
and ‘arrest’ him. Sometimes these were real arrests with various levels of risk, but
nonetheless, the arrests were always conducted in a respectful manner, with a translator
who spoke fluent Arabic. With his help, we would arrest the suspect, ask him several
questions, and get out. The entire process would take about 10 to 15 minutes.
The missions were complex. As soldiers, we did not know anything. We received the
most minimal information possible and for a good reason. We did not know who we
were arresting, who provided the intel, etc. We would only receive the location of
the house, a description of the suspect’s looks, the level of risk and whether he has a
weapon or not. Nothing beyond that. In my position, I was in charge of my team, and I
had to make sure we did not exceed the limits of our mission. I couldn’t just intuitively
search his house and enter the children’s room. This never happened. This is something
I would do only if the General Security Services explicitly told me to do so.
There were incidents that the suspect would come to the door and then we would just
take him with us. There were more difficult arrests, during which the suspect would try
to escape, and then we would check the neighboring houses, but this was the maximum
we could do.
It must be mentioned that in these operations our weapons served only for self-
protection. We tried to make it swift, efficient, and as non-violent as possible.
It is important to differentiate between an arrest and a “Straw Widow” operation. In
a Straw Widow operation, we entered the room, put a camouflage net on the closest
window, held positions for two-three days, and left. Usually we did this in deserted
houses or uninhabited areas. There were other operations that were more complex and
required special units. In such cases, if the house was inhabited, the family would be
gathered into a room and even then, it would not last for three days, but one-night tops,
and following a specific alert. We were very careful when entering a family’s home,
because they were innocent. It was not them we were targeting, it was a matter of their
On the contrary, when carrying out arrests and searches following a specific alert
about a terrorist, I saw him and his family differently, since he was not innocent, he
put himself in this situation. When there was an irregular search, we acted quickly,
because there was a time limit and the neighbors might wake up. I would not start
cleaning up his house after finding weapons there. If we realized within a minute or
two that we made a mistake, due to some misunderstanding, we would try to tidy up
the mess and fix it as best as we could.
As a soldier, I did not like it, it was unpleasant, I did not want to do it, I did not choose
to do it and it was not done from bad intentions. But these things happen. I can say
that from my experience, such arrests amounted only to several dozens and were very
seldom. Except for a few cases, we did not cause any destruction that could not be
easily fixed or restored.