Hello, IDF? I Found a Tank Near the Mall in the Center of Town

On the line with Israel's Military: A true story

Nir Gontarz
Nir Gontarz
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A tank behind the mall in Givatayim, in central Israel.
A tank behind the mall in Givatayim, in central Israel.Credit: Eliran Ben Haim
Nir Gontarz
Nir Gontarz

Hello and welcome to the Israel Defense Forces’ public inquiries center. For your information, some conversations are recorded for control purposes. A call-routing system is in use. For inquiries about the IDF’s draft procedure, medical care, salary and payments or reserve service, please press 1. For inquiries about discharge benefits, sexually injurious behavior, lone soldiers or to reroute the call to Military Police, press 2.


To route the call to Mahut Center in regard to sexually injurious behavior, please press 2. To route the call to the center for lone soldiers, please press 3. To route the call to the Military Police, please press 4.


Hello, you have reached the Operations Room of the IDF’s Operational Military Police. We will be at your service momentarily.

Hello, is this the O.R. of the Military Police?


Hello, Nir Gontarz here, a journalist from Haaretz and also a citizen. I found a tank.

What are you?

I found a tank.

You found a tank? Where did you find a tank?!

Next to the mall in Givatayim.

You found a tank next to the mall in Givatayim?


Alright. Just a second. (Says to someone else: “There’s someone here who found a tank.” Laughter in the background. “It’s a journalist.” Transfers the call to someone else.)

Hello! How are you?

Whom am I speaking with now?

With Amit O.R. M.P.

Hello Amit O.R. M.P. My name is Nir Gontarz, I’m a journalist with Haaretz.


I found a tank behind the mall in Givatayim.

Okay, okay, good. That doesn’t sound so standard. Uh where are you now in the country?

In the Sharon region.

Where did you see the tank, physically?

Physically, it’s behind the Givatayim mall.

Okay, I’ll give you the phone number of M.P. Dan District, and I’m transferring you to them. It’s in their sector, they can give you a response.


M.P. Dan.

Hello, M.P. Dan. I was transferred from O.R. M.P. I found a tank.

Say what?

You heard me. I found a tank.

Where did you find a tank?

Behind the Givatayim mall.

On which base?

No base. In the heart of a civilian population. In a totally civilian area. There’s simply a tank there.

What are your details?

My name is Nir Gontarz, and as I told O.R., I’m a journalist with Haaretz.

A journalist

What else do you want to know?

Phone number.


Where is it, exactly?

Behind the Givatayim mall.

On what street?

I don’t know.

You’re not there now?

No. It’s not pleasant for me next to the tank.

Understood. Photograph it for us.

I have a picture of it. Give me a cellphone number and I’ll send it on WhatsApp.

How is it you’re calling from a General Staff phone?

Funny. It’s probably because I was transferred from O.R.

Understood. Hold on a second. So you say there’s a tank simply

Yes. Simply a tank.

It’s in the middle of the street?

Yes. On a kind of dirt plaza. People go to Super-Pharm with the kids, and boom: a tank in your face. Try telling a small child what it is.

And are there people inside?

I didn’t check.

Is it activated, is it moving?

I don’t think so. It’s just standing there.

Maybe it’s an exhibit? Maybe it’s supposed to be there?

What for? What’s it good for?

Where is it, exactly, on the street? In a plaza?

In a dirt plaza.

Maybe it’s supposed to be there?

Why put a tank in the middle of the city? What’s the deal?

Uh I’ll get back to you in a minute.




I wanted to ask you a few questions. It’s not activated, it doesn’t move. Does it look active to you or is it an exhibit? Is it next to a base?

Not next to a base. Next to a drugstore.

Is it for commemoration?

It’s not next to a base. It’s next to a Super-Pharm and next to stores for children.

Understood. Do you have the picture?

Yes. Give me a number.


That’s your number?

No, the senior investigator’s.

Alright. I’m sending a picture.


This is Nir. Did you receive it?

Yes. Listen. It looks familiar. We know what’s happening there. Thanks for letting us know, but it’s not something we handle.

What’s happening there?

It’s an exhibit for Independence Day.

Small children are exposed to a tank in the middle of the city. Is that standard?

Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes. Totally standard. Don’t worry.

But it might scare children. What’s good about placing a tank in the middle of the city?

That they might be afraid – alright.

Not alright.

For that there are the people and there are booths there, and there are people who explain what a tank is.

Why is it necessary to explain to a 5-year-old boy what a tank is?

There’s nothing to be done. It’s authorized. There’s nothing to be done.

Alright. Thank you.


Ringtone: “He’s just a guy in the Armored Corps – no less and no more. A bit nasty, a bit ornery, that’s all, that’s all there is. Lai la-lai, lai la-lai, lai la-lai, lai-la-lai, lai la-lai”


Hello to Lt. Col. Oded Hershkowitz, head of media in the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit. Nir Gontarz from Haaretz here. How are you?

Fine, Nir.

Tell me, where else has the army left tanks in the middle of the street?

Have a good day. (Hangs up.)