rank: First Sergeant
unit: Armored Corps
area: Khan Yunis area
When we first entered [the Gaza Strip], when we took over houses, there was this thing of ‘provoking’ the area. If you’re standing for hours and the tank is idle, you don’t start driving back and forth. There’s no comparison between a tank that’s in motion and a tank that’s idle. An idle tank is 1,000 times more vulnerable, and you can’t just drive around for seven hours if you’re stationed at a certain building. So once in a while there were steps we would take to ‘provoke’ the area. What does that mean? It means machine gun fire at ‘suspicious spots.’
What are ‘suspicious spots’?
Bushes, suspicious buildings.
When you fire at a ‘suspicious spot’ that’s a building, do you fire toward the window or toward the corner of the structure?
The corner. You want to ‘provoke’ the area and make sure that if there’s someone in there he won’t suddenly pop his head out and screw you with some anti-tank missile.
You stay inside the vehicles but start shooting at ‘suspicious spots’?
Every few hours, not the whole time. Every five hours that the tank is idle, it’s better to ‘provoke’ the place.
The commander would tell you to shoot ‘provocation fire’ at a preordained time, and the targets were chosen by the tank team? By the tank commander?
Yes, in accordance with what you have around you. You locate ‘suspicious spots’ – one doesn’t need to be a genius to do that. There’s no precise definition, but you know a ‘suspicious spot’ when you see it. You analyze the area, figure out what’s what, which house is tall and has command over you, which windows are pointed right in your direction. And then wham, I fire a burst. You don’t waste shells, you don’t just shoot shells for no reason.
Up to what range can you define something as a ‘suspicious spot?’
Any range. In principle, any house that can see me, that’s within eyeshot of me, which could take me down – can be defined as suspicious. We would scan the entire range – any place within eyeshot.
What’s the farthest point?
Hundreds of meters away from us. I’ll give you a stupid example, it’s even sort of funny. There was one night when someone said, “I saw [movement] over there.” The whole time, of course, we’re on the two-way radio making sure, asking questions – you don’t want to find out that one of your guys went out to take a dump and you accidently shot him. So he said, “I saw it for certain and there’s nobody of ours out there.” They said, “You have authorization to fire” so he opened fire with the [tank’s machine gun] – he was satisfied, he did his job, he did what he had to do. The next morning it turns out it was a cow. He made a fool of himself, no doubt. But he couldn’t take the risk it was a person.