Generation Zip Tie: West Bank raids break night’s calm, but quietly
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Generation Zip Tie: West Bank raids break night’s calm, but quietly

The Times of Israel joins the Artillery Corps’ Tiger Battalion in Qalqilya as it arrests 3 Palestinian teenagers on suspicion of throwing rocks, firebombs at soldiers

Judah Ari Gross is The Times of Israel's military correspondent.

  • Soldiers load one of the suspects into the back of a Ze'ev, a large armored personnel carrier, in Qalqilya on January 14, 2016. The soldiers' commander, Lt. Col. Nimrod Cibulski, had them move the Palestinian teenager away from his family before blindfolding him and putting zip-ties on his wrists, in order to spare the suspect's father the sight of his son in restraints, Cibulski said. (Judah Ari Gross/Times of Israel)
    Soldiers load one of the suspects into the back of a Ze'ev, a large armored personnel carrier, in Qalqilya on January 14, 2016. The soldiers' commander, Lt. Col. Nimrod Cibulski, had them move the Palestinian teenager away from his family before blindfolding him and putting zip-ties on his wrists, in order to spare the suspect's father the sight of his son in restraints, Cibulski said. (Judah Ari Gross/Times of Israel)
  • A soldier stands guard in the light of an army jeep in Qalqilya on January 14, 2016. The vehicles the army uses during these nighttime raids are all armored against bullets, rocks and Molotov cocktails. (Judah Ari Gross/Times of Israel)
    A soldier stands guard in the light of an army jeep in Qalqilya on January 14, 2016. The vehicles the army uses during these nighttime raids are all armored against bullets, rocks and Molotov cocktails. (Judah Ari Gross/Times of Israel)
  • A soldier prepares to enter the home of a Palestinian teenager accused of throwing rocks at IDF troops during a riot in Qalqilya. An advance team had already entered the home to wake up the family, who initially denied that their son was home, on January 14, 2016. (Judah Ari Gross/Times of Israel)
    A soldier prepares to enter the home of a Palestinian teenager accused of throwing rocks at IDF troops during a riot in Qalqilya. An advance team had already entered the home to wake up the family, who initially denied that their son was home, on January 14, 2016. (Judah Ari Gross/Times of Israel)
  • IDF soldiers move toward the home of two Palestinian teenagers who are believed to have taken part in violent protests in Qalqilya. An Arabic-speaking representative of the Defense Ministry's Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories unit accompanies the battalion to facilitate conversation between the soldiers and the families of the accused on January 14, 2016. (Judah Ari Gross/Times of Israel)
    IDF soldiers move toward the home of two Palestinian teenagers who are believed to have taken part in violent protests in Qalqilya. An Arabic-speaking representative of the Defense Ministry's Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories unit accompanies the battalion to facilitate conversation between the soldiers and the families of the accused on January 14, 2016. (Judah Ari Gross/Times of Israel)
  • An IDF jeep travels down a road in Qalqilya on January 14, 2016. As the army vehicles left the city, some residents threw stones at the jeeps, not causing any damage. The three suspects the Tiger Battalion arrested were handed over to law enforcement later that morning. (Judah Ari Gross/Times of Israel)
    An IDF jeep travels down a road in Qalqilya on January 14, 2016. As the army vehicles left the city, some residents threw stones at the jeeps, not causing any damage. The three suspects the Tiger Battalion arrested were handed over to law enforcement later that morning. (Judah Ari Gross/Times of Israel)

Every night, IDF troops enter cities and villages in the West Bank to pick up Palestinians suspected of throwing rocks and Molotov cocktails or belonging to a terrorist organization.

The Times of Israel accompanied the Artillery Corps’ Tiger Battalion as it entered the Palestinian city of Qalqilya, located just a five-minute drive from the Israeli city of Kfar Saba, to arrest four residents believed to have taken part in violent riots in their city.

The battalion, led by Lt. Col. Nimrod Cibulski, entered Qalqilya just after 2:00 a.m. on January 14.

This practice of late-night arrests that often wake up entire households is often denounced by critics of the IDF as a form of collective punishment.

But according to Cibulski, they have no other choice. “If I could, I’d make arrests at 10 o’clock in the morning,” he said.

Bringing in jeeps and armored vehicles into a city in the middle of the day would necessitate shutting down the streets where soldiers would be operating, and it would also increase the likelihood that residents would attack the soldiers by pelting them with rocks or bottles. Late-night arrests, though traumatic for the families whose sleep is wrecked, leave the majority of the population untouched, he said.

Before setting out, Cibulski, a father of two, reminded the officers under his command to be mindful of young children who may be in the homes of the suspects, and to try to not wake them with unnecessary commotion.

By the end of the night, the Tiger Battalion only arrested three suspects, as the fourth was not at home. The Palestinian teenagers had their hands bound with zip ties and had blindfolds placed over their eyes. Cibulski made a point of doing this away from the parents, to spare them the sight of their child in restraints, he said.

Cibulski had a photograph and file on each suspect as proof to show the families that their sons had taken part in violent riots, though most parents claimed the pictures “were photoshopped.”

Just before 4:00 a.m., the three suspects, all teenage boys, were brought back to the battalion’s base just outside of the Zufim settlement in the West Bank, where they would undergo a medical examination and have their identification information recorded before being handed over to law enforcement for further questioning.

An audio report from Qalqilya:

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