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Testimonies by Israeli soldiers detail abuse of Palestinian children

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.

IDF soldiers holding Nariman Tamimi’s daughter and relative back as she is arrested in Nabi Saleh (Activestills)

+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 may not be able to end the occupation, is essential to the process of getting Israelis to recognize their culpability in the perennial occupation, and getting others to wake up to the reality.

The following are a selection of testimonies:

Until someone comes to pick them up
Unit: Nahal Brigade
Rank: First Sergeant
Hebron 2010

On your first arrest mission, you’re sure it’s a big deal, and it’s actually bullshit. You enter the Abu Sneina (Hebron) neighborhood and pick up three children. After that whole briefing, you’re there with your bulletproof vest and helmet and stuck with that ridiculous mission of separating women and children. It’s all taken so seriously and then what you end up with is a bunch of kids, you blindfold and shackle them and drive them to the police station at Givat Ha’avot. That’s it, it goes on for months and you eventually stop thinking there are any terrorists out there, you stop believing there’s an enemy, it’s always some children or adolescents or some doctor we took out. You never know their names, you never talk with them, they always cry, shit in their pants.

Was there a case of someone shitting in his pants?

I remember once. Always that crying. There are those annoying moments when you’re on an arrest mission, and there’s no room in the police station, so you just take the kid back with you to the army post, blindfold him, put him in a room and wait for the police to come pick him up in the morning. He sits there like a dog… We did try to be nice and find a mattress for them, some water, sometimes some food, and they’d sit there blindfolded and shackled, left like that until morning. Those were the instructions. That, or just to leave them in the war-room. That was also standard procedure. Until morning, until someone came to pick them up.

——————————

We put some kid to sleep
Unit: Paratroopers Brigade
Rank: First Sergeant
Nablus 2006-2007

When there’s a “disturbance of the peace” the unit commander is authorized to ask the battalion commander for permission to shoot the leader in the leg.

What is a leader?

These are kids. Everyone participating is a kid. No older than 16. At most, 18. Usually when we come in, they don’t go to school. We’re the attraction and they come out to ‘play’. I even remember once we put on music for them through some cellular phone. We also got used to this. We were relatively sane, took things fairly in proportion. We’d get… cement blocks and crazy things thrown at our vehicle and you… at first you use some rubber ammo and then realize, it’s silly. Once… there’s this PA system we have (a sound system for addressing a large public), so we put on music from a cell phone and everyone started dancing.

The kids?

Yes, it was huge. We put on music and suddenly they all stopped throwing stones and began to dance. It was eastern music so they were dancing with their hands. Then the song ended and they went on throwing stones. It was really serious. You realize who you’re dealing with here. These are kids. Chances are I’d do exactly as they do if I were in their shoes. There was a case of a unit commander who decided to shoot a guy in the leg because he runs the show, and it happened.

Live ammunition?

Yes. Live, not rubber. You know, from the point of view of the commander, they would have stopped throwing anyway.

When you begin getting hit with stones, you get out of the jeep?

No.

You shoot the rubber ammo from inside the jeep?

You shoot through the loophole.

Where do you aim? Do you choose some kid at random?

Yes. Choose someone, aim at his body.

Body?

Center of mass.

10 meters range at the center of mass?

I remember one time we put a kid down. We didn’t kill him but someone hit the kid in the chest and he fell and probably lost consciousness, or at least, it was pretty close. About 10 meters’.

Were you instructed as to how to use rubber ammo?

No. It’s like… There are rules. They tell you to shoot four. There’s this cluster of rubber bullets, pieces with four parts, packed in a kind of nylon. You can break it in two, so it’s stronger and flies further. As soon as it’s four it’s less strong and flies less far. We’d usually break it in half.

Is this something you were told to do? That if you want to achieve a longer range you break it in half?

No, we figured it out ourselves. It’s something that’s common knowledge in the army. People know about this. It’s not… When you use a weapon, you get to know it pretty well, I guess.

Just so you know, as soon as this pack is broken in half, it becomes lethal.

Really? Well, that’s what we did.

We did, too. As soon as the ‘tampons’ are separated, they’re lethal. The nylon must not be removed.

Not removed?!

No.

We barely fired a whole cluster, I mean four. It’s like you want to save ammo, too.

————————-

Did you swear at the soldier?
Unit: Kfir Brigade

Rank: First Sergeant
Hebron 2006-2007

When I was a commander at Gross Post [in Hebron], sometimes out of boredom, you know, there are more soldiers there so you sit and chat. I recall once some soldier caught an Arab kid and said: “You swore at me!” or something like that. His grandfather or father came, some adult, and he told them: “The kid swore at me. You don’t know who you’ve messed with, I’m a maniac,” begins to curse him, threaten him.

Who?

The soldier yelling at the kid and his father. Grabs him like this, holding him by the neck to the wall. So the father says to the kid: “You swore at the soldier?” Boom, slaps him. The father slaps the kid, you know, paying his dues. “You swore at the soldier…”

You’re looking on and saying to yourself, Wow, I don’t know. I mean, cases of real humiliation…

———————-

Desperate shaking
Rank: First Sergeant
Hebron 2010

Once there was a stone-throwing incident at Gross Square, so we were alerted and the kid appeared and we were called from HQ, and the lookout instructed us: “Listen, stop where you are, he’s right next to you.”

How old was he?

15 years old. His name was Daoud. We stopped our vehicle, ran out, he was in total shock. We took him to Gross Post, to the Jewish side, and he began to cry, scream, he was just streaming sweat and tears. We had nothing to do with him, suddenly you end up with a crying kid. A second ago he was throwing roof tiles at the army post, and you’re dying to beat him to a pulp, and you’re alerted out there in that heat. You want to kill him but he’s crying. We didn’t know what to do, so we put him under watch. Once someone who was with him went wild, did something to him and left.

At some point when I was with him I tried to calm him down because he was tied, blindfolded, and crying, tears and sweat streaming out all over. I began to shake him, then the deputy company commander tried. He grabbed him and began to shake him: “Shut up, shut up, enough, cut it out!” Then we took him to the police station at Givat Ha’avot and he continued to cry because the policemen didn’t take him in for interrogation. He was so annoying, this was insane. In all that mess, while he was crawling on the floor, the communications man took out his Motorola, his two-way radio and boom! – banged him on the head. Not meaning to be cruel, just hearing that unbearable crying for over two hours.

This happened at the police station?

Yes.

———————-

Related:
Breaking the Silence: The Occupation Testimonies (part I)
The Occupation Testimonies (Part II): It’s not about security

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  • COMMENTS

    1. Michelle

      That is really heartbreaking because that is child abuse and all you need do is put that in youtube and there is plenty of really horrible things to see of Palestinian kids getting bullied. These kids will grow up of course with this pain and seek revenge. Bravo to these people that spoke out because we need more of them. There needs to be some soul searching here on a massive scale.

      Reply to Comment
    2. I read this booklet the day before yesterday. Some of the testimonies were quite difficult to get through, especially the ones in which the testifier shows so little self-awareness or understanding of what the children go through on a regular basis. For instance, testimony 6, in which the soldier describes how he chased a group of 9 and 10-year-old children with stun grenades on suspicion that they may have thrown stones (“How do we know they threw stones? It’s hard to tell”) and then watched as his company commander cocked his gun in one child’s face and physically prised him away from his dad and brother in order to arrest him. “I suppose it is a very scarring experience for them, but the situation is complicated.” He talks about the need to arrest kids in order to stop stone-throwing. The interviewer asks him if the stone-throwing did stop because of these policies, and he replies, “No.” Here I startled some pigeons off the windowsill by leaping from my desk chair and exclaiming my surprise.

      The interesting thing is that even in spite of that lack of awareness, and his attempt to rationalise what happened, the guy still approached Shovrim Shtika. I think that’s a pretty positive sign of their ability to reach out to people of all different views and provide a space for them to be heard. This is important for the ex-soldiers as well as for the children they talk about. There have been a few times when I ended up talking with soldiers who weren’t exactly in the happiest frame of mind, some of them with psychological symptoms that worried me. Shovrim Shtika obviously doesn’t have an explicit therapeutic function but I think it might help.

      Reply to Comment
    3. M. Davison

      “Breaking the Silence” has had credibility problems long before this.

      The testimony would be more convincing if the witnesses would give their names. Anonymous testimony carries far less weight than an accuser facing the accused.

      Additionally, anonymous testimony to condemn people is one of the a characteristics of an undemocratic society. In other words, such accusations without identification are the tool of totalitarian systems who don’t care what wrongs they commit, as long as they achieve their agenda.

      If wrongs are done, then those testifying need the courage of their convictions to testify openly in open court and not provide anonymous testimony like a thief in the night without giving a chance for rebuttal.

      +972 will probably not post this.

      Reply to Comment
      • In most cases here the accuser is also the accused. These are not just witness testimonies, but perpetrator testimonies – and both witness and perpetrator testimonies come from people who were part of an institution that does not encourage speaking out, or offer much in the way of legal redress. The battle that Abir Aramin’s parents faced to get justice for their daughter when she was shot dead attests to that, as does the trivial sentence that was handed down to the killer of Iman al-Hams. And in these cases the ‘justice’ process began only after children’s deaths, and only with tireless lobbying from human rights groups. A guy in his twenties who is struggling to come to terms with what he did in the army doesn’t have those resources available to him, and given that he experienced these abuses as routine, how could he single-handedly launch the campaign for restitution? Who does he accuse? Himself, offering himself up for a token wrist-slap? His officer? His officer’s commander? Who? In what ‘open court’? There isn’t one. And can he even testify safely, without being publicly decried as a coward and traitor? A while back there was an article on Ynet about PTSD in the military, and the comments were vitriolic – all about how they should toughen up, we don’t need weaklings in the IDF, etc. This is a heavily militarised society. Is it any wonder that people might not feel comfortable exposing themselves to the risks that come with questioning its central institution?

        The testimonies from Shovrim Shtika tessellate with my own experience working with traumatised Palestinian children. In their last book of testimonies (from Hebron), two soldiers mentioned an incident that I actually knew about already, because I had been involved in supporting the family. It was strange but also quite touching to know that two of the soldiers who did those things had come forward, because when you’re a child being woken up in the middle of the night and put in shackles by masked armed men it’s pretty hard to believe that they even see you as human at all.

        Also, there are non-anonymous testimonies out there. In Alick Isaacs’s recent book, he describes how he trashed Palestinian homes, beat people up (breaking bones), made women from Khan Younis crouch in sewage, and watched soldiers throwing a Palestinian youth into a latrine pit – a point at which he did decide to speak up. Only he didn’t dare, because he was afraid that the other soldiers would mock his poor Hebrew (he was an oleh) and he knew he didn’t have the necessary authority. So he just walked away. People who want so much to believe that the Shovrim Shtika testimonies are aberrations are clutching at straws. There is a definite and long-term pattern of abuse.

        Reply to Comment
        • Camilla A.

          Thank you for your commetns, Vicky. You’re always a breath of fresh air.

          I feel sorry for those soldiers. As Meirav points out, they’re not much more than children themselves. This doesn’t mean that I’m dismissing their actions, because I’m not, but I think that they pay an huge price, too. I had a short relationship with a former IDF soldier, who spent his military service as a kravì in the Territories. We never talked much about it – politics was a very sensitive topic between us – so I don’t know what he did there. But thinking that he might have been one of those soldiers, beating a teenager without reason, shakes me to the core.

          Reply to Comment
      • Joel

        I like the Breaking the Silence organization, and I think that anonymity is an imperfect but acceptable policy.

        What I like most about these testimonies is that, I hold my breath when I begin to read them and than find that the claims of abuse turn out to rather tame.

        I’m sure that serious abuse happens sometimes but what do you expect when trained soldiers are forced to deal with rock throwing kids who are themselves, egged on by adult ‘activists’ and than photographed by sympathetic third-rate ‘fauxtographers’.

        Reply to Comment
      • Jack

        So you deny the crimes?

        Reply to Comment
        • Joel

          @Jack

          I acknowledged that abuses take place. Now will you acknowledge that adults who send other people’s children to throw rocks and projectiles at soldiers is also abuse of children?

          Let you and I mend fences, Jack. Let’s agree that children shouldn’t be made part of the political and religious struggles of Jew and Arab.

          Reply to Comment
          • The idea that Palestinian parents secretly want their children to be arrested and dragged off in the night is a particular nasty form of dehumanisation – they don’t really love their children, you see, they use them, they aren’t like us. Child arrest has been happening for decades. It was happening to the parents themselves when they were young, and they know for the most part that no one cares. Coverage on 972, B’Tselem, and ActiveStills (wow!) in no way compensates for the nightmares, the bedwetting, the depression, the eating difficulties, the self-harm, and the dozen other trauma-related mental health problems that families deal with in ex-child detainees every day, sometimes for years.

            When a group of soldiers conducts a night raid on a family home to take a child, everyone is usually asleep in bed. (The small hours of the morning is the preferred time for arresting children, making it pretty clear that the aim is maximum intimidation and disruption.) No effort is made to prove that the kids were throwing stones; the army doesn’t need proof. The rationale is that it doesn’t matter if you arrest children who weren’t involved, if you intimidate the community as a whole it might stop, and even if it doesn’t – well, at least this gives you something to keep the boredom at bay. These themes are reiterated throughout the soldier testimonies. Reading them makes it pretty difficult to prop up the old canard that all this is just theatre.

            Reply to Comment
          • Joel

            @Vicky

            Who said anything about parents wanting to have their children arrested?

            I said ‘activists’ who send OTHER PEOPLE’S CHILDREN to throw stones.

            Don’t put words in my mouth.

            Reply to Comment
          • I apologise for misreading you. The claim that Palestinian parents deliberately turn their children into victims has been recurring ever since Golda Meir first produced it, and I’m sensitive to anything that resembles it.

            There are still traces of that sentiment in your argument – the idea that there is some shadowy brigade of adult activists prowling about Hebron recruiting children to throw stones – and for what? The coverage on 972? The same arguments apply.

            I am not interested in talking about these fictional characters. I’m interested in talking about the actual children. Those who do throw stones don’t need any recruitment; the army’s own presence and behaviour is enough reason for them to do it. In a way, I find it easier to deal with children who have thrown stones, because the stone-throwing at least shows that they have some sense of their own dignity and worth, and they feel angry when those things get violated. What’s far worse is the children who really believe that they deserve it all. The little girl who hides in her wardrobe at night and won’t go to bed because she thinks that the soldiers will come to arrest her for dropping candy wrappers in the checkpoint, and she’ll deserve it because she was ‘bad’. Yes, that actually happened. It’s much easier to help a twelve-year-old who threw a rock at a jeep than a seven-year-old who believes that she has no right to sleep in peace because she’s ‘bad’. I am not about to criminalise frightened children, even if they have committed the cardinal crime of throwing a stone at the source of their terror.

            Reply to Comment
          • Joel

            Here are two videos that make my point.
            The first is the one that headlined on BBC and al Jazeera, etc.

            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rc9eh-cYJQw

            The second, unedited and not shown around the world, shows the boys searching for Jewish motorists while surrounded by a dozen photographers and ‘activists’ who ‘just happen to be there at the right time’.

            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g6CLmMEWQsA

            I’d call this cynical abuse of children by ‘activists’ and a complicit press.

            Reply to Comment
          • That footage shows youngsters throwing stones at settler cars on the road, surrounded by other youngsters, the oldest of whom looks to be about twenty. There are two guys with cameras – the person filming, and one young man. There is no evidence of adults orchestrating the event, because again, they don’t need to – shabab who decide to throw stones do not need encouragement. I see this in my office, in the health clinic, at demos, in psychological reports on the kids. I am going to trust my own personal experience working with literally hundreds of Palestinian children and the expertise of organisations such as the Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers and Defence for Children International over a clip taken from YouTube and given a creative interpretative gloss by you, a person who is trying so very hard to justify inhumane treatment of children in military custody.

            If we had a phenomenon of children being recruited to do anything they didn’t want to do, I would need to address it, because child mental health is my area and I don’t decide whether something is ‘abusive’ or not based on who is committing the abuse. This is where our approaches differ. You are keen to oppose the ‘cynical abuse’ of Palestinian children by adult activists – but physical and psychological abuse becomes ‘tame’ providing it’s done by people in the right colour uniform. Your concern isn’t for the children.

            While we’re talking about the cynical use of ‘other people’s children’, it might be a good moment to mention all the supporters of occupation (especially those living overseas) who rely on a military draft of teenagers fresh out of high school to maintain that occupation for them. The difficulties faced by soldiers and ex-soldiers have already been touched on in other comments, and they’re crystal clear in the testimonies. Most of these young people have never even lived away from home before, are used to being guided and directed by parents and teachers, and are far less likely than a adult with more life experience to question an inhumane order. Most of them have taken it for granted that they will be in the army since they were young enough to understand the word. They’re groomed for this, and the only get-out clauses are ill health, orthodox religious observance, and in some cases total pacifism, not, “I don’t want to go.” We need far less talk of ‘other people’s children’ from anyone supporting this enterprise.

            Reply to Comment
          • Joel

            The Israeli car driver involved in this incident was one of the leading purchasers of East Jerusalem real estate for use by Jews., i.e. the Judaization of East Jerusalem.
            Do you believe that it sheer coincidence brought him, the kids, the photographers and the twenty-something adults together that day, or, do you believe that this was a setup?
            If it was a setup, than obviously the kids were recruited to throw stones by ‘adult activists’.

            What do you think?

            Reply to Comment
          • …or it could just be that the local kids on the block are very used to seeing his car and know which one it is, or didn’t even particularly mind which settler car they stoned. We don’t know. There is no way to tell from the video, which shows a pretty typical crowd of Palestinian shabab hanging around the street.

            It’s not beyond the bounds of possibility that this single incident was staged, but there is no definite proof and there is certainly no suggestion that such things are staged as a matter course. You are trying to take one video clip and use it as a smokescreen for a pattern of entrenched abuse that has already been spelled out. As the soldier testimonies have demonstrated and my own experience corroborates, the army doesn’t look for proof of involvement when arresting a child. Children, like adults, are subject to administrative detention, which means that the army isn’t obliged to give any reason for detaining them, let alone present evidence for it. When reasons are given, they can be totally trivial – such as looking at a soldier in a way he doesn’t like. Sometimes teenagers in one area will be rounded up as an intimidation tactic – it happened to one of my good friends when he was seventeen. He was held for three weeks in Ofer Prison, along with all the male teens from his area, and the army didn’t even bother to present the stone-throwing excuse as a figleaf. Back in April, using that excuse, soldiers in Kufr Quddoum attempted to arrest two-year-old Mo’men Shteiwi. They said they’d seen him with something resembling a slingshot.

            You, like the army, are automatically presuming the children are ‘guilty’ (of something, it doesn’t particularly matter what) and deserve what they get, which is classic victim-blaming. A discussion of child maltreatment in military custody becomes, “Prove that they didn’t do something to earn it, prove that the hapless innocent IDF soldiers weren’t forced to blindfold a kid and threaten him with death and beat him and make him crap his pants by sinister manipulative Palestinians.” You evidently don’t see how sick that is, and unfortunately I don’t have any way of making you see. I’m just glad that some of the soldiers realise it.

            Reply to Comment
          • Joel

            Please Vicky. You sound like a sensible person.

            The settler’s car comes around a blind curve and into a well staged, and well documented ambush. Notice that are were no rocks on the pavement before the rock throwing began. That’s because no other car was stoned, which is because the kids were lying in ambush for that one prominent settler.

            How many staged injuries do you have to watch before you become cynical. See the you tube videos from the Niztana crossing to Gaza. Watch the documentary Pallywood, look at the entire Mohammed al Dura video.

            Please.

            Reply to Comment
          • Andy

            sadly Joel you have a set view which you are trying to convice everyone of rather than seeing the fact that there is an issue here of the treatment of children you want to move distract us from the fact that an extremely well trained and armed force in the IDF is going against children who may or may not have been encouraged to throw stones in a way that is not acceptable and is not only damaging to the Children but also to the soldiers and both Palestinian and Israeli society. I don’t believe that all stonings are managed by adult activists and you have not actually put up any really credible evidence rather reading into a film your interpretation to fit your pre concieved ideas in the same way someone with an opposing view to your would also but even if they were the response is unacceptable.

            Please can we focus on the real issues here… the treatment of the Children by the IDF and Israel and the mental health of the soldiers for whom this seems to be a regular behaviour. If that is so then it will only be reflected in their treatment of others once they have left the IDF and that is an issue that Israel needs to address unless it sees the dehumanisation of others as a reasonable and acceptable way to behave.

            Reply to Comment
      • Marshalldoc

        I guess then your comment would apply to the so-called IDF “operative” who testified anonymously at the trial of the ‘Holy Land 5′ in order “to protect his identity” and whose uncorroborated testimony was said by jurors to be important in their decision to convict 5 men whose real crime was sending charity to Gaza.

        Reply to Comment
    4. Joel

      What in the testimony of the Nahal Brigade First Sergeant constitutes abuse of children? I must have missed something.

      Reply to Comment
      • Detaining children without a parent or other responsible adult present and not giving them access to a lawyer immediately is a violation of the rights of the child. So is the fact that in the Occupied Territories, under military law, there is no real age of criminal responsibility – the youngest child to be arrested to date (that I know of) was five years old. Compare that to the rights accorded to Israeli Jewish minors in custody, who are subject to civilian law. The system itself is fundamentally abusive.

        Blindfolding and shackling a child and frightening him to the point where he soils his pants is also abusive. If you can’t see that, ask yourself whether you would be happy if this treatment were meted out to Israeli Jewish children who are also accused of stone-throwing. There are settler kids in Hebron who have thrown stones, but this doesn’t happen to them, ever. It’s quite clearly unnecessary to shackle a child and keep him blindfolded; it’s done purely out to intimidate and humiliate.

        One danger of occupation is that it desensitizes the people who maintain it and support it. That can be seen in some of the testimonies (“At first you point your gun at some five-year-old kid, and feel bad afterward, saying it’s
        not right. Then you get to a point where…”). It’s easy to start seeing this as normal, or as you put it, ‘tame’ – which makes me wonder exactly what this army has to do to a child for you to see it as unacceptable.

        Then again, the fact that you need to tell yourself that these incidents are staged by Palestinian adults and waiting photographers suggests that you aren’t as desensitized as all that, which is a good thing.

        Reply to Comment
        • Joel

          I’d like to see more settler kids jailed for rioting and assault. I have no problem with that.

          As for blindfolding, I would guess that that is a security measure to prevent escape attempts and to forgo the possibility of future retribution against soldiers for their part in the arrest.

          Reply to Comment
          • The idea that an armed and highly sophisticated military needs to blindfold children to protect its soldiers from ‘retaliation’ is demonstrably ridiculous. On the rare occasions when they do detain settlers and, much more commonly, Israeli Jewish activists, they never feel the need to blindfold them. Evidently it is only Palestinian children who are fiendishly cunning and resourceful enough to pose this great risk.

            As for your policy on similar treatment for settler kids, I don’t know whether to congratulate you on at least supporting equal-opportunity child abuse or be cynical over the fact that it is very easy to support a hypothetical that you know will never become a reality. Civil law prevents that from happening, thank God.

            Reply to Comment
          • Joel

            Child abuse?
            Israel just arrested and interrogated three minors, 12 and 13 years old, on suspicion of throwing molotov cocktails at an Arab car.

            Violence must be the primary domain of the government; not the domain of some stupid kids.

            Reply to Comment
          • …and those minors have full rights in civil law. As they should have.

            Palestinian kids who are detained under martial law get none of those rights. Instead they have ‘special treatment’ that those minors will not be getting – the lack of access to a lawyer, no right to have a parent present, solitary confinement, beatings, shacklings, having their release conditional on signing a confession in a language they can’t even read, sometimes even torture. There is a huge gulf between martial and civil law, and that is a big part of the problem. Don’t try to conflate the two. It’s the abuses of Palestinian children under martial law that are being discussed here.

            Reply to Comment
          • Joel

            Yes, Vicky.
            A big gulf.

            When American G.I.s go to murder people in Iraq and Afghanistan and get medals for it.

            And if the G.I.s come back to the United States and murder an American civilian the murderer gets a life sentence.

            War and peace are funny that way and the Occupied Territories are a political and judicial ‘grey zone’.

            Reply to Comment
          • Do you understand what martial law is? It doesn’t refer to soldiers’ conduct in war. It refers to a legal system *imposed on a civilian population*.

            You have gone from trying to make out that Palestinian children and Israeli Jewish children are treated equally, to acknowledging they aren’t and qualifying it with that old favourite, “It’s a grey area, it’s a war, everything is complicated” – the old Emperor’s New Clothes argument. In an example of victim mentality on steroids, you even invoke the need of thousands of heavily armed, well-equipped soldiers to ‘protect’ themselves against young kids through inhumane and traumatising methods – methods that they never need to use against anyone else, funnily enough, and that in these testimonies perpetrators themselves identify as pointless. “It’s a grey area…” will never be a sufficient smokescreen for that.

            Reply to Comment
    5. Ton van der Scheer

      Traumatic experiance for mother and children and in THE end also for THE soliders.

      Reply to Comment
    6. BtS

      M. Davison – for your information, on the Breaking the Silence website you can find an archive of video testimonies where testifiers have come out and revealed their names & identities. See here: http://www.breakingthesilence.org.il/testimonies/videos

      Reply to Comment
    7. Defence for Children states in an Urgent Appeal (8 august 2012) that “Since 1967, more than 730,000 Palestinian men, women and children are estimated to have been prosecuted in Israeli military courts and imprisoned.
      The majority of these prisoners are held in detention facilities inside Israel, in violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention (the Convention). Article 76 of the Convention prohibits the transfer and detention of these prisoners inside Israel. The practical consequence of this violation is that many prisoners, including children, receive either limited, or no family visits, due to freedom of movement restrictions and the time it takes to issue permits to visit a prison. In the case of children, this lack of adequate family contact also violates their rights under article 37 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.”

      Reply to Comment
    8. Aaron

      Good work, posting these testimonies. Frankly, I can’t read all of them because I’m really squeamish about violence, especially violence against young children. I totally support the 1967 occupation, but it’s important to know just what awful stuff is involved in it. We need to be reminded.

      Reply to Comment
      • Aaron, on my own article about child trauma in Palestine, you wrote, “If you defend the occupation and acknowledge the horrors and are not a sociopath, well, it’s hard.”

        What exactly is it about the occupation that is worth supporting over the rights and welfare of abused children?

        One of my own most difficult memories is of accompanying a child who was detained by the army at the age of eleven as we went through a checkpoint. She was shaking, and she was so frightened that she threw up. I held her hair out of her face as she was sick and sponged the vomit splashes off her shoes. On the bus she was pressed into me and she was shivering. Is this honestly what you would want to say her? “I can’t actually listen to many stories like yours because they make me squeamish, but I totally support the system that did this to you. Don’t worry – I’ll do the decent thing and remind myself about what you go through by reading some articles on the Internet. Not too many, though, because, like I said, I’m squeamish.”

        It’s just as well for you that there’s segregation around here, because I don’t know how you’d ever manage to look them in the face if there weren’t.

        Reply to Comment
        • Vicky, we are losing some of your thoughts, as there seems to be a word limit on comments. Maybe break them into two entries.
          .
          “Chances are I’d do exactly as they do if I were in their shoes,” (above), speaking of stone throwing. It is absurd to treat children as war combatants (blindfolded? shackled?); thereby potential future enemies are created. At the level of a child, there is no difference between self and opponent. That should provide a path out of this mess.

          Reply to Comment
          • Greg, on people’s longer comments I see a ‘More’ button. Do you not have that?

            Reply to Comment
          • Vicky, yes the “more” is there. But you will find that even there the comments are truncated, unlike the old platform. In fact, I’ve noticed several of your comments just ending mid sentence, under “more.” It’s not all bad–forces concise prose.

            Reply to Comment
        • Aaron

          I think ending the 1967 occupation today would lead to lots of bloodshed, terror, and death. That’s why I support the occupation. I don’t see anything noteworthy about my supporting a war in spite of the suffering it causes. You try to mitigate the suffering, for instance by training the soldiers better and enforcing discipline.

          I’m also not at all proud of being squeamish about this stuff, but it’s the same with images from any war: World War II, Vietnam, whatever. Again, nothing exceptional about this one. I became much more sensitive to violent images (real or fictional) since becoming a father over a decade ago. Again, I don’t see that sensitivity as a good thing, just as a fact. For one, it keeps me from watching movies that I’d like to see.

          Reply to Comment
      • Aaron, I think I can understand how the accumulated events of decades lead one (an Israeli, living things directly) to support the 67 occupation. To say something rather arrogantly, as a matter of social physics, it will ultimately fail, reports of these children one indicator of that. Violence on both sides (and occupation is a form of structural violence) make both sides monsterous. Those who struggle using nonviolence are struggling with themselves as much as the opponent–to keep anger, hatred, reply at bay. They are asking for help, in a sense, when they face “you.” Children can be a deep fissure crossing our boundaries and walls, a path to walk, almost tunnel across boundaries thought inevitable.

        Reply to Comment
        • Aaron

          I don’t believe in social physics.

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          • Aaron, there are in my view laws of social behavior at an aggregate level. You said that you can support a war without liking all its consequences. I understand that. But the occupation is not a war; in wars, you can win. You did win against the bombers; but, that win is creating something else. Actions have consequences–and yes, that includes failing to protect your own.

            I meant no disrespect. You are very honest. But I cannot see this occupation leading to anything but later disaster. Nor do I see any evidence that the IDF wants to mediate its action on children–and that has consequences within Israeli society. That is what I mean by “social physcis.” The occupation harms both sides–yet I have no simple solution for its removal. As in medicine, you have to identify a disease, then hope–hope–for a later discoverd remedy.

            Reply to Comment
          • Aaron

            You’re one of the best commenters here, in my opinion. But, way too many metaphors in that comment of yours. Physics, disease…I don’t think either describes the situation (or maybe any political situation) accurately. On the other hand, I do think “war” is a good, literal description. This is what people have called war throughout most of history, except for a few centuries in modern Europe when war was an activity carried out between states, usually having a well-defined beginning and end.

            We’ve been hearing about “consequences for Israeli society” for ages now, and I’ve yet to see any evidence of such. Yes, Israel has probably gotten worse in lots of ways since 1967, but it’s very hard to find evidence of causality, especially considering what’s been going on in other democracies that were not occupying/colonizing powers. I’m very skeptical of this claim.

            Reply to Comment
          • Aaron, the best commentator here, given my biases, is Vicky, who works with children under the occupation. If young soldiers treat children as detailed in this post, I think it affects them upon their return–that is seepage. You sound as though you dislike this treatment. But do you really see things changing under the present circumstances? That is seepage. Further seepage: the race riot in South Tel Aviv, and some MK’s part in incitement to riot–without legal consequences.

            Reply to Comment
          • Aaron, IF these practices to children could be stopped via IDF decision, I would call that progress for all. I think you are right that Israel is in a quasi war of an earlier time, not suited for its status as a developed country. The occupation cannot be removed overnight; but Israel has to learn how to lose against the right strategies. As I’ve said before, nonviolent ones. Small losses to change both sides, a bit. Israel is not going away; it has its Declaration of Independence, affirmed by the UN. And in that, I still see hope for several if not all sides.

            Reply to Comment
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