Soldiers in Hebron

Conscription is obligatory for all Israeli citizens over the age of 18, though Arab citizens are exempt. Men serve three mandatory years and women are required to serve two, which makes Israel one of the only countries with obligatory army service for women. The Druze are a distinct Arabic-speaking religious minority of Islamic origin who are not exempt from conscription in Israel and make a prominent part of the army. A military unit is often composed of people with very different backgrounds including Ashkenazi, European and American Jewish; Druze, Palestinian and Christian Arab; politically right-winged, middle and left-winged; immigrant and Israeli-born; African and North-African; Bedouin and Tel Avivian. Coming from settlements and cities, these mixed groups of people find a common identity in their uniforms and in their newfound power. The soldiers are young and equipped with guns. Diverse backgrounds result in diverse behavior, and Palestinians cannot be certain on what to expect from the soldiers when passing through a checkpoint.

There are roughly 2000 Israeli soldiers on duty in the H2 area of Hebron and at least one combative soldier for each of the 500 settlers. There is the Gevat unit with the task of protecting the settlers, and there is the Tatspaniot, a special unit located in Kiryat Arba and composed only of women. This unit watches all the security cameras and controls the city through them. Hebron is regarded as a military base and the checkpoints as front lines. The soldiers must act according to their orders, regardless of their personal opinions.