[[Breaking The Silence is an organization of veteran combatants who have served in the Israeli military since the start of the Second Intifada, and have taken it upon themselves to expose the Israeli public to the reality of everyday life in the Occupied Territories. They endeavor to stimulate public debate about the price paid for a reality in which young soldiers face a civilian population on a daily basis, and are engaged in the control of that populationâs everyday life. Their work aims to bring an end to the occupation.]]
Rank: First Sergeant
Unit: Nahal, 50th Battalion
Area: Nablus area
Can you expand on the issue of âred lines?â What is the guideline?
When you see the map of the red lines, your whole concept changes, because the area looks as if itâs [full of] 99% Palestinians, with something like three small settlements. But when you suddenly look at it, even zooming out, at the whole Samaria area, you understand that Palestinians are actually banned from entering a huge chunk of it, they canât hang around there. Around every such settlement thereâs a circle, a radius of one kilometer, a huge area youâre not allowed to enter if youâre Palestinian. Now this area is really uncultivated, but I donât know what it would be, if Palestinians were allowed to enter it.
And can the settlers enter?
Yes, yes. You take the settlement as the center, draw a radius, a circle around it, and thatâs the area, that, like, Palestinians arenât allowed to approach settlements, theyâre forbidden to arrive at the settlement fence, they have to stop further away.
Is there any difference, from this aspect, between a settlement and an [illegal] outpost?
Is such a perimeter defined around, West Tapuach, for example?
If the idea is to create a sort of security zone, then the moment the settlers are allowed to enter, it sorts of defeats the whole purpose.
Yes, itâs a unilateral buffer zone, and that, more or less, is the story of West Tapuach. West Tapuach is in the Tapuach buffer zone, so settlers can easily come there. The moment they built an outpost, there was a need to enlarge the buffer zone, around West Tapuach as well, and thatâs how these zones are created, that you can sort of hop through them to the hills. On the terrain we donât see this line, I mean we donât know, and when we arrive we always expel them [the Palestinians]. If heâs really close, then we can already try to arrest him, to interrogate him. Usually that doesnât happen. Usually weâre informed about someone who is pretty far away from the settlement.
Can you tell us the distance, more or less?
500 meters. Thatâs the area that we drive them away, but donât treat them as suspects. We drive up to the guy and expel him.
And the Palestinians that did approach, who were they?
Very often itâs adult men, even old men. A man who drives his car in the area, on his way to an olive grove, but itâs an olive grove heâs not allowed to enter, stuff like that.
There are olive groves within the red area?
Itâs an area that was probably harvested in the past, it has about six trees here and there. An area with olive trees, but not ordered like an olive grove. Many times they come there with a feeling that itâs their land, that they want to be there, not necessarily in the harvest season. We donât arrive there on our initiative, if the civilian security coordinator (CSC, a civilian settler employed by the Israeli Ministry of Defense to oversee settlement security detail) saw something, or someone called the CSC, then weâll come, but itâs not really an area we try to keep empty.
And did it ever happen that you came and saw and said: no, heâs not close enough and we donât have to expel him from here?
Youâll always tell him to go?
Yes, because itâs conceived as a very minor act. We donât arrest him, we just tell him to go away.
(Edited for the IMEMC by c h r i s @ i m e m c .o r g, reposted with permission from the publisher.)
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