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


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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