Our ‘product line of more than 300 machines’, boasts the American company Caterpillar, ‘reflects our increased focus on customer success‘.

To judge by a recent collection of testimonies from Israeli soldiers who participated in Israel’s summer 2014 assault on Gaza (‘Operation Protective Edge’), this focus is paying dividends.

Israel’s army makes use of a modified version of Caterpillar’s D9 bulldozer, which last summer was, by all acounts, the star of the show.

We knew that we were entering a house and that we could be good kids, on our best behavior, but even then a D9 (armored bulldozer) would show up and flatten the house. We figured out pretty quick that every house we leave, a D9 shows up and razes it… At a certain point we understood it was a pattern: you leave a house and the house is gone – after two or three houses you figure out that there’s a pattern. The D9 comes and flattens it.

– Mechanised Infantry, Sergeant First Class (Deir al-Balah)

By the time we got out of there, it was all like a sandbox. Every house we left – and we went through three or four houses – a D9 (armored bulldozer) came over and flattened it… [It’s] impressive seeing a D9 take down a big two-story house… The D9 would simply go in, take down part of the wall and then continue, take down another part of the wall, and leave only the columns intact. At a certain point it would push a pile of sand to create a mound of rubble and bring down other parts, until the house was eventually left stripped, and from that point it would simply hit the house [with its blade] until it collapsed. The D9 was an important working tool. It was working nearly non-stop.

– Mechanised Infantry, First Sergeant (Deir al-Balah)

Juhar al-Dik is on some high ground that overlooks [the barrier between Gaza and Israel], and it’s very green. When we left after the operation, it was just a barren stretch of desert. Incredible. Of all the houses that were there, I think I saw maybe four or five still intact, or relatively intact. It was crazy…

What caused all the destruction?

Most of it was D9s… When they didn’t have a specific job like leading our way or opening up a specific route for us or some other mission, they just went and flattened things. I don’t know what their specific order was, but they were on a deliberate mission to leave the area razed, flattened.

Houses, too?

Lots of houses. The D9s destroyed lots of houses.

– Armoured Corps, First Sergeant (Deir al-Balah)

[The] D9 operators didn’t rest for a second. Nonstop, as if they were playing in a sandbox. Driving back and forth, back and forth, razing another house, another street. And at some point there was no trace left of that street. It was hard to imagine there even used to be a street there at all. It was like a sandbox, everything turned upside down. And they didn’t stop moving. Day and night, 24/7, they went back and forth, gathering up mounds, making embankments, flattening house after house.

– Infantry, First Sergeant (Northern Gaza Strip)

By the time I went in most of the buildings in that area had already been run over by D9s (armored bulldozers). We went in at night and there was no visibility at all. If you looked through a night vision scope you saw crazy wreckage, it was a real trip. From what I understood, tanks went in and were followed by D9s. Firing and wrecking, firing and wrecking, that’s how they advanced.

– Mechanised Infantry, First Sergeant (Deir al-Balah)

The D9s, they were operating constantly. They are the most strategic, effective tools available for this sort of engineering operation, there’s no doubt about that. They pass through anything, run over whatever’s necessary.

– Mechanised Infantry, First Sergeant (Deir al-Balah)

One of the high ranking commanders, he really liked the D9s. He was a real proponent of flattening things. He put them to good use. Let’s just say that after every time he was somewhere, all the infrastructure around the buildings was totally destroyed, almost every house had gotten a shell through it. He was very much in favor of that.

–  Infantry, Lieutenant

When you set up in a house, the house doesn’t stay the way it was. You open an exit in the back with a hammer, you fortify the house, you usually throw grenades at a lot of places. You erect a rubble embankment in front of the house with a D9 (an armored bulldozer) to protect against rockets, you raze the house that’s closest in order to reduce risks, and you level the area both in back and in front.

How do you raze the adjacent house?

It’s razed by a D9. Usually when the company positions itself in several houses in the area, part or all of the houses in close proximity that pose a threat are taken down. Let’s just say wherever the battalion was positioned, nothing was left standing, at least not at full height.

– Nahal, First Sergeant (Northern Gaza Strip)

We had a few D9s (armored bulldozers) in our battalion and I can attest that the D9s alone destroyed hundreds of structures. It was in the debriefing. There were a few more structures that we blew up in the end. Obviously there were all kinds of other things, but the D9 was the main tool, it doesn’t stop working. Anything that looks suspicious, whether it’s just to clear a path, whether it’s some other thing, whatever – it takes it down. That’s the mission.

– Lieutenant (Gaza City)

[An] old man came over, and the guy manning the post – I don’t know what was going through his head – he saw this civilian, and he fired at him, and he didn’t get a good hit. The civilian was laying there, writhing in pain. We all remembered that story going around, so none of the paramedics wanted to go treat him. It was clear to everyone that one of two things was going to happen: Either we let him die slowly, or we put him out of his misery. Eventually, we put him out of his misery, and a D9 (armored bulldozer) came over and dropped a mound of rubble on him and that was the end of it.

– Infantry, First Sergeant (Northern Gaza Strip)

‘We will remain the leader’ in the industry, Caterpillar promises, ‘by continuing to help our customers meet their needs with durable and reliable equipment’.

This does not bode well for Gazans.

p.s. Boycott Caterpillar!

One comment

  1. […] over 60 Israeli soldiers on what they had seen and done in attacking Gaza. Stern-Weiner provided a useful and accessible guide to what the report shows about the D9’s role in […]


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