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breaking the silence

  • Why is Matti Friedman so mad at Breaking the Silence?

    A former AP reporter who crusades against the international media's alleged anti-Israel bias takes aim at the Israeli NGO of veteran soldiers in an article that is long on ... well, length. But short on substance.  By Mairav Zonszein and Lisa Goldman Earlier this month, the Israeli NGO Breaking the Silence released a report about the army’s 50-day incursion into Gaza last summer. Titled “This is How We Fought in Gaza 2014,” it is comprised of more than 60 oral testimonies collected from soldiers and officers. The overriding theme of the eyewitness accounts is that soldiers going into Gaza were…

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  • How I became involved with Breaking the Silence

    When I ran into an old classmate who suggested that I testify, I told him I had nothing to tell. He insisted, and only then I realized how wrong I was. By Avihai Stollar Back in 2008, I ran into Dotan, a former classmate from high school. We started chatting and he told me he was active in an organization called Breaking the Silence. He told me that its members are former soldiers who had served in the Occupied Territories and now strive to expose the Israeli public to the day-to-day reality of the occupation. To this end, he said,…

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  • Chronicle of a tragedy foretold in Gaza

    If there's one takeaway from the newly published Breaking the Silence report, it's that the IDF is most certainly not the most moral army in the world. By Ido Even Paz Breaking the Silence member Idan Barir published an article during last summer's Gaza war, in which he warned against the firing of artillery into densely populated areas such as the Gaza Strip. The use of a ‘’statistical’’ weapon, he wrote, would bring about disastrous consequences, due to its inherent imprecision. [tmwinpost] Now, nearly a year after the last shell of Operation Protective Edge fell silent, it has become clearly…

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  • Redefining civilians and legitimate targets: Israeli soldiers testify on Gaza war

    Two themes are present in almost all of the 60-plus testimonies collected by Breaking the Silence from Israeli soldiers who fought in the last Gaza war: loose rules of engagement and systematic, wanton destruction. But can the new documentation serve as a catalyst for change inside Israel? Internationally? By Mairav Zonszein and Michael Schaeffer Omer-Man Breaking the Silence, an Israeli organization of military veterans, released on Monday a collection of testimonies from nearly 70 soldiers and officers who participated in Operation Protective Edge in the Gaza Strip last summer. It has been 10 months since the 50-day assault, which killed…

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  • The only issue that matters in Israel's elections

    I grew up in a settlement. I met more Palestinians that the average Israeli. But it was only during my military service in the West Bank that I realized our 47-year rule over the occupied territories must come to an end. By Shay Davidovich Elections have always fascinated me. As a child, I insisted on staying up late to hear the preliminary results and the party leaders’ initial responses – all happy to declare the dawn of a new era. The soldier’s votes were always counted late, but were never seemingly influential, at most one seat here or there. Interested…

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  • There's no nice way of building settlements in occupied territory

    Those familiar with the system know that as long as settlement construction continues, the abuse and intimidation of the Palestinian civilian population will be maintained. By Gerard Horton UNICEF, the UN body tasked with providing humanitarian aid to children in developing countries, recently issued an update on the progress made regarding the treatment of minors held in Israeli military detention. In its 2013 report, Children in Israeli Military Detention, UNICEF reviewed over 400 sworn testimonies collected from minors who came in contact with Israel's military system, and concluded that ill-treatment “appears to be widespread, systematic and institutionalized throughout the process,”…

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  • Is an anti-occupation revolt brewing in the British Jewish establishment?

    Leader in top communal organization announces he is leaving post to speak out freely against Israeli policies -- and gets standing ovation from membership. For many years I have felt that the only way to end the occupation is through outside pressure because Israel is just scorched earth politically, and will never do it on its own. On that basis, the announcement last week by a prominent figure in the British Jewish establishment, and the reaction to it by his colleagues, was a more hopeful sign than anything that’s happened in the current Israeli campaign or is about to happen…

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  • IDF soldier: Artillery fire in Gaza is like Russian roulette

    During Operation Protective Edge the IDF has shot thousands of artillery shells into Gaza, the impact location of which are uncontrollable. As an ex-combat soldier in the artillery corps, I feel obligated to explain how artillery fire on a civilian population can be both dangerous and lethal. By Idan Barir (translated by Hadas Leonov) Amid the stream of terrible reports from Operation Protective Edge, two especially painful events captured my attention: The bombardment of an UNRWA school in Jabaliya that served as a shelter for families that had fled their homes due to the fighting, which resulted in the deaths…

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  • How an army of defense became an army of vengeance

    I will never forget the evening my friends and I were sent to kill Palestinian police officers in a revenge attack. We went from soldiers sent to defend our families to murderers of innocent people. By O.K. A month has passed since we were informed of the kidnapping of Eyal Yifrah, Gilad Shaar and Naftali Fraenkel. Ever since, there has been unrest in the region. Along with their families, we all hoped for good news, and mourned with them when the teens’ bodies were found. However, over the past few weeks our computer screens and our streets have been filled…

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  • When Israeli soldiers 'provoke and react,' Palestinians die

    Despite Netanyahu's claims of 'self-defense,' testimony by Israeli soldiers suggests that mounting Palestinian casualties are the result of intentionally provocative tactics. Text by: Ryan Rodrick Beiler Photos by: Ahmad Al-Bazz and Oren Ziv/Activestills.org In response to the mounting numbers of Palestinian deaths, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu offered the excuse that Israeli military action in the West Bank “entails a certain friction with the civilian population,” and that “we have no intention of deliberately harming anyone but our forces are acting as necessary for self-defense and from time to time there are victims or casualties on the Palestinian side as a…

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  • Photos of the week: Devastation for the Negev Bedouin

    This week: The Bedouin village of Al-Arakib is destroyed for the 65th time, Palestinians and Israelis commemorate 47 years of occupation, administrative detainees on hunger strike, Israeli soldiers break their silence in public, demonstrations against asylum seekers in south Tel Aviv and more.                       

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  • 'I realized violence came from settlers, not Palestinians'

    On the occasion of 10 years since the founding of Breaking the Silence, a former IDF soldier talks about how he came to understand the immorality of the mission his country sent him on, and Israeli society’s silence surrounding it. By Shay Davidovich The drive down Highway 5, heading east into the Occupied Territories, can be deceptive. The wide road and pastoral landscape almost succeed in obscuring the barbed wire fences and heavy military presence. I know this road quite well. It leads to the settlement of Ariel, where I grew up and lived most of my life. Much of…

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  • Public reading of soldier testimonies to be held in Tel Aviv on anniversary of occupation

     Avner Gvaryahu, spokesperson for the anti-occupation group Breaking the Silence: 'We want as many public figures as possible to assume responsibility, in broad daylight, for the kind of stories every soldier knows to tell.' Breaking the Silence, an organization made up of ex-IDF soldiers that seeks to expose the reality of the occupation, is organizing a public reading of soldier testimonies from the West Bank and Gaza in central Tel Aviv's Habima Square. The event will mark the 10 year anniversary of the organization, which has taken a leading role in documenting Israel's control over the Palestinians in the West Bank…

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