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breaking the silence

  • 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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  • A new settlement is born in Hebron

    As peace talks teeter, three families move into what will be the first new settlement in Hebron since the 1980s - with the full support and blessing of the army. Three Israeli settler families moved into a contested home in the West Bank Palestinian city of Hebron, following a years-long legal battle and culminating on Sunday with the authorization of Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon. The new, fortress-like building signifies the first new settlement in Hebron since the 1980s. The building in question, which is strategically placed between the Old City of Hebron and the major Jewish settlement of Kiryat…

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  • Breaking the Silence founder detained in Hebron, banned from city for 14 days

    The founder of IDF watchdog group Breaking the Silence (BTS), Yehuda Shaul, was detained in Hebron on Tuesday as he was leading a tour in the Jewish settlement located in the heart of the city. According to the organization's spokesperson, Avner Gvaryahu, Shaul was confronted by an IDF company commander, who prevented him from continuing on his way, despite the fact that the area is considered public space and that Jewish groups use those streets frequently. Shaul was detained after arguing with the officer. Shaul, who was released from the Hebron police station later that night, was banned from the…

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  • WATCH: 20 years since the Ibrahimi Mosque Massacre in Hebron

    Twenty years ago, on February 25, 1994, Israeli-American Jewish settler Baruch Goldstein massacred 29 people in the Ibrahimi Mosque in Hebron, the Muslim holy site at the Cave of the Patriarchs. Goldstein’s attack with an automatic assault rifle left 125 wounded. In the wake of the massacre, its victims, the Palestinian residents of Hebron, were the ones to suffer. Once one of the city's major thoroughfares and commercial centers, Shuhada Street was closed to Palestinian vehicle and foot traffic as part of the Israeli army’s attempt to create "sterile" buffer zones between Jewish settlers and Palestinian residents in the city.…

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  • 'For Israeli soldiers, some Palestinians are little more than props'

    How can an entire army battalion pass through a village without disrupting its inhabitants? How can soldiers train with live bullets while ensuring that no one will be injured? A former IDF soldier describes the ways in which soldiers are taught to make their presence known, always at the expense of the local Palestinian population. By Shay Davidovich Just like every other year since I completed my IDF service, in the summer of 2011 I was called up for reserve duty. For a few weeks every year, no matter whether my soldiers and I are needed for training or to perform military operations,…

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+972 is an independent, blog-based web magazine. It was launched in August 2010, resulting from a merger of a number of popular English-language blogs dealing with life and politics in Israel and Palestine.

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