Can You Spot The Roadside Bomb? Take the Test Servicemen Go Through Every Day

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At first glance, this stretch of rocky ground beside a path in the Israeli-controlled Golan Heights does not seem to be a threat.

To the expert eye, however, it is potentially deadly. That’s because an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) has been planted inside a hollow rock, a tactic commonly used by the terror group Hezbollah.

For the elite unit of Israeli army trackers based on the border with Syria and Lebanon, the ability to identify such threats can mean life or death. Or as Major Guy Gadir, 41, the commander of the unit puts it, ‘it can mean the difference between a good day or a very bad day’.

MailOnline joined Major Gadir and two of his men on patrol at a secret location close to the tense border with southern Lebanon, Hezbollah’s stronghold, where he revealed some of the secrets used by his unit to track down terrorists seeking to kill civilians or capture soldiers across the border.

Major Gadir is one of up to 300,000 Bedouin Arabs living in Israel, all of whom are Sunni Muslims. Many Bedouin are deeply patriotic and volunteer to fight for the Jewish state.

Test your skills

One of the rocks in this picture is a fake, and contains a bomb. Can you tell which one? Scroll to the next picture to find out.

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Give up? Here’s the answer:

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At the bottom center of the picture, one rock is of a different color and texture to the others, which gives the game away.

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Due to their desert nomadic heritage, they have developed extraordinary tracking abilities which they put into action in special units within the Israeli army.

Major Gadir begins by demonstrating how to detect Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs). ‘One tactic of terrorists like Hezbollah is to hide their bombs in fake rocks,’ he says.

‘As a Bedouin, all of your senses are highly sensitive to your environment. Your eyes, ears, sense of touch and even your nose can alert you to danger in the area.’

At first he relies mainly on appearances, watching out for anything that doesn’t fit. ‘If a particular rock is a different shape or colour, or has a hole or protrusion that looks man-made, that makes us instantly suspicious,’ he says.

‘It’s a matter of knowing intimately the type of rocks that are present in the area, and having enough alertness and perceptiveness to notice when something is not right.’

Soldiers also have to be keenly aware of the danger of tripwires, he added, which can be almost invisible when they are stretched low across a path.

Test your skills

In this picture, another fake rock contains a bomb. To the trained eye, it stands out. To find out which it is, scroll to next picture

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Give up? Here’s the answer:

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This rock, used to hide deadly explosives, is given away by its unnatural hue and shape, as well as the circular hole in its side

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The variety of fake rocks is apparent as the demonstration goes on. Some are dark grey while others are light brown or white. This, Major Gadir says, is intentional.

‘The terrorists often change the disguise of their bombs. As soon as we start to learn their techniques, they evolve,’ he says. ‘That’s why the Bedouin’s ancient tracking skills are needed, because it’s not like a textbook that anyone can follow.’

These unique skills have been passed down through the generations, and are now being used by the IDF. This was illustrated last year, when a Bedouin veteran visited Israeli education minister Naftali Bennett while he was mourning for his father at home.

The two former comrades shared reminiscences about their time in the military, including an incident in 1993 in which the tracker saved Bennett’s life in Lebanon.

They were on a foot patrol, Bennet explained, when ‘suddenly Fawas he yelled at me to stop. I immediately stood still. He said not to move and began cleaning the stones. He pulled out an anti-personnel mine.’

‘If you are going to be a good tracker, you need to have grown up in nature,’ says Major Gadir. ‘You can’t be a city dweller. You need to know every detail of the area you are working in, and also have the kind of knowledge that can only be passed on through the generations.’

Test your skills

This stretch of ground contains a giveaway mark that shows an armed man has been in the area. Most people cannot spot it. Scroll down to see the answer when you’re done.

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Think you got it? Here’s the answer:

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This sharp groove was made by the edge of a gunstrap dangling on the ground as an armed man stooped to take cover.

It is remarkable, he adds, that the Israeli army, which is famed for its advanced weaponry and hi-tech equipment, relies on centuries-old traditions for tracking infiltrators.

‘Every man in my village has volunteered to serve in the army,’ Major Gadir tells MailOnline. ‘We feel that Israel is our home and we get on well with our Jewish friends and neighbours. We are proud to fight for the country.’

The terrain in northern Israel is comprised of areas of dirt and sand as well as rocks, and this offers another set of clues to the Bedouin trackers. In addition to footprints, they can spot traces left when an enemy has knelt, covered his tracks or walked backwards to disguise his trail.

‘It’s all about knowing which signs to look for, and being experienced enough to pick them up,’ Gadir says. ‘For example, we came across a distinctive line in the dirt, and we realised that an enemy had been there.

‘The mark had come from his gunstrap, the edge of which had brushed the ground as he stooped.’

Test your skills

This piece of rusty metal seems ordinary, but something about it shows somebody has passed this way

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And the answer is…

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The blades of grass that have been pressed across the metal frame indicate that somebody has stepped on the frame


Hezbollah infiltrators are often bent on acts of terror, but can also be engaged in drugs trafficking.

‘Israel is a small country, but it can be difficult to apprehend a single person if he manages to somehow get across the border,’ says Major Gadir.

‘Bedouin trackers are a first line of defence. We can stop a serious problem before it even starts.’

The Bedouin’s job is made more difficult, he adds, when their quarry takes measures throw them off the scent. Hezbollah, Hamas and other terror groups are keenly aware of the skills of the Bedouin trackers, and when an infiltration occurs, it can lead to a game of cat-and-mouse.

‘Often a terrorist will try to walk on stones or other hard surfaces so that he doesn’t leave any marks,’ Major Gadir explains.

‘We can still catch him, because we look out for those stones that have subtle circular impressions at their base, suggesting that they have had weight on them recently.’

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