Reading the Ground Like a “Newspaper”: NYT Profiles IDF Bedouin Searching for Teens

Tuesday, The New York Times profiled a Bedouin IDF tracker, Maj. Mohammed Mazarib, and his role in the search for Naftali Fraenkel, Gil-ad Shaer and Eyal Yifrach.

The Times described the skills of a tracker:

They are like a forensics unit, in nature. An intact spider web means no one has crossed. Dewdrops on a horse print says it was made that morning. Different-colored dirt close by suggests someone might have recently dug a hole.

“When you buy a newspaper, you look at the headline, you know what’s inside,” Major Mazarib said. “I look at the ground, and it’s like my headline.”

In addition to briefly describing the trackers’ methods, the article also tells of Mazarib’s family history. He is the nephew of Amos Yarkoni, born Abd el-Majid Hidr, who founded the “trackers and other elite units.” Mazarib is the youngest of the seven brothers in his family to serve in the IDF. One brother achieved the rank of lieutenant colonel. A 20 year veteran of the IDF, Mazarib commands 70 trackers.

The video below profiles a Bedouin tracking unit in the north of Israel.

The Tower Magazine’s photographer, Aviram Valdman produced a photo essay on Bedouin life, The Bedouin, Between Two Worlds, for the March 2014 issue of the magazine. The introduction notes that “though the Bedouin of Israel have made substantial progress, reducing their illiteracy rate from 95 to 25 percent and sending new generations to schools and colleges at an increasing rate, they are still a people apart.”

[Photo: Zev Marmostein IDF Spokesperson’s Unit / WikiCommons ]