An undertaking employed by amongst others the UNIFIL peacekeepers in the mountains and valleys of South Lebanon. The reason for doing it was to fulfill the U.N. Security Council Resolution 425 which in short required peacekeepers to separate Israeli Defense Forces and the various armed factions of Lebanon. The latter included nice people like Hizbullah and Amal. UNIFIL appeared in Lebanon in March 1978 after the first Israeli invasion.

An ambush patrol consisted of three or four soldiers, each equipped with specialist gear and sometimes a dog and its tender. Gear included radio, flare rockets, stun grenades, nightvision goggles, a backpack containing odds and ends generally considered useful and sometimes a personnel radar. This came in addition to your personal kit consisting of personal weapon, combat armour, a full load of ammo, gas mask and a cardiovascular system chock full of caffeine pills. The pills came in handy after spending your 36th hour awake in a war zone.

Patrols lasted anywhere from four to eight dark hours, in which a distance of a handful of klicks were covered by foot in a dead slow pace. The idea was to walk slowly for a couple of klicks, take cover and listen and look for unusual activity for about one hour. No talking ever took part, it was completey dark but for the regular moonlit nights and very cold and muddy during the winter months due to the incessant rain. When spring came, the nights became very very quiet. You won't believe over what distances voices travel when there's no wind.

I spent many many hours on such an activity as a peacekeeper grunt, and only once during my service with UNIFIL did my platoon ever stop anyone. Three frightened guys from Hizbullah with an old Kalashnikov each, a few hundred rounds of 7.62x39 mm, a couple of fragmentation grenades and a block of TNT. What kind of damage they would have inflicted on the heavily fortified Israeli border and indeed if they ever would have come back alive is anyone's guess. Sitting at a safe distance in the dark watching people blow each other to smithereens is both scary and interesting in a perverse sort of way. It happened on many occasions after armed elements (as we called them) snuck up on the Israeli border through a different sector, setting off a live ammo fireworks display and trying to disappear back into the night. These brave souls were usually displayed on national TV in Israel the following day.


Before I joined I was notoriously afraid of the dark. Due to the countless hours on ambush patrols in the dark, hiding in shadows of large stones and squatting behind trees and learning to blend in with the nothingness of the Lebanese night, the dark became comforting and an ally. Not being alone as well as carrying an automatic weapon might also have helped. This happened in 1988 - 1989 when I was 21.

I got the Nobel Peace Prize while serving, and I've got a medal-ish thing and a diploma here to prove it.