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.…Read More... | 18 Comments
breaking the silence
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,…Read More... | 10 Comments
The IDF insists on not indicting the security officer who killed Bassem Abu Rahme during a demonstration in the West Bank village of Bil'in, despite being provided with enough details to find him. By Yesh Din, written by Yossi Gurvitz In April 2009, during the weekly demonstration in the West Bank village of Bil'in, a uniformed Israeli officer fired a gas canister into the chest of demonstrator Bassem Abu Rahme, killing him. The killing was carried out in the presence of senior officers. Firing a canister at a direct trajectory is contrary to the orders of the IDF itself, not to…Read More... | 6 Comments
When even reporting an immoral act by a senior officer carries with it a serious price, it becomes clear that one cannot win against the army. Been there, done that. In July 1989, as a young, bored soldier in the IDF's main draft base in Tel Ha'Shomer, I asked my colonel to be transferred to the Civil Administration in the Gaza Strip. We were on friendly terms and he quickly made the arrangements, walking through my first sham court martial. I was in charge of running a small garden toolshed, which was broken into while I was on vacation -…Read More... | 23 Comments
When Israeli soldiers admit their past abuses of Palestinians, as they did again this week, the occupation's defenders often ask: Why didn't you report this to the army at the time? A personal illustration of why it is a disingenuous question. I was 37, a new immigrant three and half years in Israel, drafted into the IDF for a month of basic training, and I found myself dumping a truckload of garbage on the edge of a Palestinian woman's vegetable garden. She was screaming in Arabic at me and the other draftee doing the job, and the IDF driver…Read More... | 35 Comments
Testimonies from former Israeli soldiers have failed to touch the Israeli public or change the state's policies. The IDF gives an 'explanation' for why it ignores these and all other occupation stories told by the men and women of Breaking the Silence. I used to think that Breaking the Silence, which publishes testimonies of IDF soldiers about what they see and do on occupation duty, would really strike a blow against the empire. Who could doubt the word of soldiers – by now over 900 – coming forward to, essentially, confess; who wouldn’t at least show them respect and give them…Read More... | 35 Comments
This post is dedicated to former IDF soldier and whistleblower Anat Kamm, a brave woman currently doing time in Israeli jail. On May 10th, Breaking the Silence - an organization of veteran IDF soldiers who collect testimonies from soldiers about their past service in the occupied Palestinian territories - released a series of new video testimonies by former female soldiers who testify on camera to the harsh reality of the occupation they participated in and witnessed. This campaign is of special significance to me because it gives voice to the women who comprise Israel's army and its mechanism for continued occupation and…Read More... | 10 Comments
Do not be misled by the paranoid helplessness of the six powerful men in Dror Moreh’s film - the end goal of Israel’s military rule is the complete demise of the dream of Palestinian independence. By Oded Na’aman Ami Ayalon, former head of the Israeli Shin Bet, grew up on a kibbutz near the Sea of Galilee. “I had a wonderful childhood,” he says toward the end of Dror Moreh’s Oscar nominated documentary, “The Gatekeepers”: I knew that there's a house in Jerusalem, and on the second floor there’s a long corridor. At the end of the corridor there's a door,…Read More... | 12 Comments
New light is shed on the shooting death of non-violent demonstrator Bassem Abu Rahme in Bil'in in 2009: A soldier who served in the same brigade as the shooter testifies how the incident was perceived by other soldiers. The testimony strengthens the claim that the shot was fired against army regulations. "The guy who shot him… was kind of pleased with the whole thing, he had an X on his launcher." On April 17, 2009 Bassem Abu Rahme was killed by an extended-range tear-gas canister that hit him directly in the chest. Abu Rahme, one of the most prominent figures…Read More... | 13 Comments
Six or seven years ago, I was sitting in Tel Aviv's Cafe Ginzburg with a man I admire deeply. Mikhael Manekin was then, along with Yehuda Shaul, one of heads of Breaking the Silence. BTS was still a budding organization at the time, made up entirely of Israeli soldiers who participated in the occupation and sought to document and inform of its atrocities. The organization was expanding its activities. Manekin came to Tel Aviv to brainstorm on organizing tours for Israelis and foreigners in Hebron. "I would like to bring authors there," he told me. "I feel that authors have…Read More... | 2 Comments
The following is a compendium of testimonies given by over thirty IDF soldiers who served in the West Bank and in and around the Gaza Strip in the years 2005-2011. Like previous publications by Breaking the Silence, it portrays daily events in the Occupied Territories. The testimonies in this anthology illuminate the realities of everyday life for Palestinian children and youth who live under Israeli occupation. Although the events described here took place after the peak of the Second Intifada, at a time perceived as calm and uneventful from a "security" standpoint, the reality that emerges from the testimonies shows…Read More... | 2 Comments
Breaking the Silence, an organization of Israelis who served in the IDF and work to expose human rights violations committed by Israel, released today a collection of soldiers' testimonies called Children and Youth, Soldiers' Testimonies 2005-2011. The report attests to the mistreatment of Palestinian children, still taking place, years after the peak of the Second Intifada. +972 bloggers often report on the maltreatment and abuse of children, but nothing speaks as strongly as firsthand accounts by young men - practically children themselves when they join the army - who are trying to come to terms with their actions. This catharsis, while it…Read More... | 41 Comments
By Dana Golan Last Saturday, a B'Tselem video camera captured an incident of settler violence that began with rocks being thrown at Palestinians near the village of Asira al-Qibliya in the outskirts of Nablus, and ended with live shots fired by the settlers and a wounded Palestinian youth. Anyone who saw the video could easily make out the IDF soldiers standing next to the settlers, doing nothing to stop them. Those watching from the sidelines may have been surprised by the useless stance of the soldiers. But anyone who understands the reality in the Occupied Territories well knows that that…Read More... | 29 Comments
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