Bootcamp Palestine: The Manmaking Machine
We've been hanging out with the British soldiers training for action in Afghanistan recently, but it might not come as a total shock to you that the Palestinian security forces are not a simpering bunch of pussies either. In hidden camps in Jericho and Jordan, greenhorn soldiers are subjected to a training program designed to make them impervious to fear. We managed to visit the site in Jericho.
The training is a physical and mental battering that includes jumping through flaming hoops, having live ammunition fired around you and straight-up punch-ups. Ahmed al-Rahman, elite commando and lover of all things disciplined, talked me through some man-making techniques.
The hoop adjusted to a 1.2 metre height is designed to simulate jumping out of a window should a building catch fire or turn otherwise nasty. If a recruit cannot jump through without touching the sides, the hoop is set on fire to help motivate him. A specialist diving instructor is in charge of this module.
This one is practice for jumping out of the way of moving cars, or to maximise distance from the blast radius should a bomb explode. Ahmed estimates "more than 20 cars" have tried to run him over, of which three have partially succeeded.
Hand-to-hand combat in a sandpit. Hand-to-knife and hand-to-baseball bat are also practiced. "We spend much time practicing throws, from a type of kung fu. The normal technique if a suspect is violent is to throw them on their back, then a punch in the face to stun them." Wise words Ahmed.
Here they are, learning to pacify a suspect.
Smashing clay pots with a hot filling. "We do this to not be scared of fire" says Ahmed. "The first time it's painful, then step by step you get used to it." Catching fire is an occupational hazard it seems.
This is practice for storming a house full of murderous terrorists, possibly holding or molesting adorable hostages. This is the Storm Unit, which specialises in these operations.
Ahmed: "You should have snipers around the building targeting all the windows. Blockade the whole area and all the surrounding streets. When you enter, go with two teams of six from different doors. We try to arrest the terrorists without violence, if that doesn’t work we shoot them in the leg."
"In 2009 we had intelligence that a terrorist group was hiding in a building in Qalqilya. We stormed the apartment, but without the right preparation and five security officers were killed. Eventually we got the terrorists, we killed two and arrested one. Their leaders in Gaza ordered them to fight to the death."
This one's good for impressing chicks
WORDS: KIERON MONKS
PICTURES: TAREK KHATIB
Keep an eye out for a full interview with Ahmed al-Rahman on Viceland.