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When 'security' means training in a Muslim cemetery

It turns out that the IDF’s legal division has no problem with soldiers holding training drills in a Palestinian graveyard.

By Yesh Din, written by Yossi Gurvitz

Last Thursday, Yesh Din field investigators filmed our brave troops while they were training in a Muslim graveyard in Hebron. Here are the images (extended video at end of post):

One is pressed to imagine greater callousness of heart: turning a graveyard, a place on which every society places many taboos and much sensitivity, into a place where soldiers practice. And it ought to be mentioned they are training mostly for operations against the neighbors of the cemetery, i.e. these drills may, eventually, increase the population of that graveyard. It’s also important to note that the local residents are, at least at first, unaware that this is merely an exercise, and it is likely to cause fear among them, as well as actions which may put them at risk.

Read more about the IDF training inside Palestinian villages

If that doesn’t bother you, think of the scandal we’d see if Palestinian policemen, or other foreign troops, were to use a Jewish cemetery for practice purposes; is it even conceivable for the IDF to use a Jewish graveyard for training purposes? The public wouldn’t stand for it: there would be a justified outcry that there are plenty of other places where soldiers can drill.

It is unclear on what authority the IDF is conducting its drills in Palestinian areas, but we’re familiar with the phenomenon since 2007. That year, IDF troops practiced in at least two locations we know of. We sent a letter at the time to the Military Advocate General (MAG) Corps, and, after taking their sweet time, they informed us they are reviewing the issue, and that until they reache a conclusion, such trainings will be halted. At the beginning of 2013 – a year in which we learned of three more cases of training on Palestinian lands, including the one in the Hebron cemetery– we wrote again to the MAG Corps, demanding a response. In the meantime, the training continued.

We are aware of five cases of training in Palestinian villages and homes, based on complaints we have received. From data we recently received from Breaking the Silence we can infer that there were at least three more such cases; regarding Hebron, one of their witnesses says such exercises take place on a weekly basis. From the testimony of a reserve soldier about an incident near Salfit in 2007 it appears the soldiers felt ill at ease before the exercise – they were mostly afraid of friendly fire and complained about the lack of rules of engagement. When they informed their officers about it, the deputy company commander replied: “guys, I don’t care, go to the media as far as I care, do whatever you want, but what’s important to me is that you do this and that.”

Last weekend we received an answer from the MAG Corps, whose audacity was impressive. It said, inter alia, that “the military commander is obliged to maintain security and public order in the Judea and Samaria Region. In order to maintain the capability of the IDF forces to carry out this mission, the IDF is forced to hold exercises, sometimes in populated areas.” Did you get that? The IDF has to protect the Palestinians, therefore it has no choice but to train on their lands.

Let’s put it this way: the Palestinians don’t want the IDF to protect them. They willingly renounce its security services. Hit the road, Jack, and don’t you come back no more. Furthermore, just when the Palestinians need the services of the iDF – even if they don’t want them – it’s almost never there. Every year, Yesh Din and Rabbis for Human Rights warn the IDF of the dangers expected during the olive harvest, while noting the places known to be dangerous. This could have been an unusual opportunity for the IDF to practice what, according to the prosecution, it’s there for: maintaining security and public order.

Yet, lo and behold, despite repeated warnings the soldiers are almost never there – unless, of course, the media is. Even when the army is supposed to defend Palestinians from marauding settlers, it fails time after time. Somehow, when it comes to protecting Palestinians it turns out it just shoots tear gas at them and sometimes uses force against them and detains them – and only them. I’ve heard of detachment from reality, but this response from the MAG Corps sets a new record.

Furthermore, these exercises often take place – as the MAG Corps admits in its letter – for reasons which have nothing to do whatsoever with “maintaining security and public order.” One of the incidents was declared by the prosecution to be a “navigation running exercise,” whose purpose was “creating deeper familiarity of the forces with the relevant sector” – but also “demonstrating IDF presence in the sector.” By “demonstrating IDF presence” it means “showing them who’s boss.” If you want to see how an IDF “demonstration of presence” actually looks, here’s an example:

The IDF does, from time to time, practice in Israeli towns and villages but it makes sure to notify the residents, which it does not do in Palestinian towns. Furthermore, while training within Israel, the soldiers avoid entering houses. The Palestinians lack even this minimal protection, which would ensure that their house would be their fortress at least during a drill.

It’s not at all clear that international law allows the IDF to practice in Palestinian villages, and without advance warning. It makes clear that where there is an available alternative that does not harm the occupied population, it must be chosen. If the IDF wishes to train, we’re all for it – let it build itself proper training facilities – rumor has it that it already has some such facilities which look like Palestinian villages – in Israel, or on those lands it has already confiscated for its use in the West Bank.

And we haven’t said a word about the fact these exercises, aside from the panic they cause among the civilian population, can rapidly turn into violence. In the past, an exercise of the “mista’arvim” (soldiers who masquerade as Arabs) went pear-shaped, and ended with the killing of one Palestinians, who thought he was chasing away thieves.

Recently, Attorneys Michael Sfard and Emily Schaeffer, legal counsels for Yesh Din, sent a letter to the military prosecution demanding a halt to training in Palestinian residential areas, otherwise we’d have no choice but to turn to the courts. We hope the IDF reins itself in before the High Court of Justice has to interfere.

Extended video of IDF conducting training inside a Muslim cemetery in Hebron:

Written by Yossi Gurvitz in his capacity as a blogger for Yesh Din, Volunteers for Human Rights. A version of this post was first published on Yesh Din’s blog.

Related:
‘For Israeli soldiers, some Palestinians are little more than props’
IDF soldiers enter village, kill Palestinian in drill gone awry
How Palestinian villages become IDF training grounds

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  • COMMENTS

    1. Danny

      Why the shock? This is the same IDF which treats Palestinians as less than human, are you then surprised it treats their dead with a similar contempt?

      As I’ve said a few days ago in a different piece: Yeshayahu Leibovich saw it 35 years ago, the clear signs of Israel’s moral bankruptcy. What we see happening today shouldn’t shock anyone whose eyes are open.

      Reply to Comment
      • What’s the big deal? Your moral outrage is self serving. There’s two sides to every story, to every conflict.

        Reply to Comment
    2. Think of it as State sponsored performance art.

      Are there fake Palestinians with signs, throwing rocks, in the extended video?

      Reply to Comment
      • The Trespasser

        Yeah, some soldiers represent Palestinians. At 01:05 in HD quality one can clearly see the standard issue military pants on one of fake Palestinians.

        Intimidation as a mean of prevention.

        Reply to Comment
    3. David T.

      There’s nothing disgraceful or racist about this, because the most moral military wing of the world also uses Jewish cemeteries for training, doesn’t it? Oh no wait. Only the graves of Gentile do not defile.

      Reply to Comment
      • Tzutzik

        “Only the graves of Gentile do not defile.”

        Oh wait you too like your “Average” friend whom you chose to defend, reflexively, are a jooooo hater aren’t you?

        Don’t be a wall flower Dave old buddy. Just come out with it. Hey we can take it. We are used to your kind. Stop attempting to disguise your own hatred of Jooooos by accusing US of hating gentiles.

        But hey, you are ONE gentile I am beginning not to like. your stench is beginning to waft through. I can smell your Jooooooo hatred from a distance.

        Reply to Comment
        • David T.

          Speaking about reflexes, Tzutzik.

          I’m not a Gentile and also not stupid to accuse you of being one, allthough you don’t seem to know to which laughable scripture I’m even referring.

          Maybe you’re just smelling yourself?

          Reply to Comment
          • Tzutzik

            Whoever you claim to be, I am smelling you Dave old buddy. There is no mistaking it.

            Reply to Comment
          • David T.

            Yeah, kike those Nazis who could smell Jews wherever they needed.

            Reply to Comment
          • Tzutzik

            “Yeah, kike those Nazis who could smell Jews wherever they needed.”

            Kike, kike … let me think what it means DavidT … it rings a bell. Oh yea … It is a derogatory term for Jews. Here, read about it.

            http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kike

            Oh wait … you don’t have to read it. You know full well what it means. Otherwise you wouldn’t have used the term. Or was it just a Freudean slip? … Either way … Yes, my sense of smell did not deceive me. I smelt your Joooooooo hatred correctly.

            And you are trying to preach to us about racism? Well, at least you have a sense of humor. A perverse sense of humor, DavidT.

            Reply to Comment
          • David T.

            Its quite amusing to see how mentally inasne you react, because I typed a character next to the letter “l” on the keyboard and the fact that postings cannot be changed afterwards. Are you an antisemitism junkie?

            Reply to Comment
          • Tzutzik

            “Its quite amusing to see how mentally inasne you react, because I typed a character next to the letter “l” on the keyboard”

            Freudean slip old buddy. Look it up
            :)

            Reply to Comment
          • David T.

            Mentally insane. Look it up in your kindergarden’s library.

            Reply to Comment
    4. Tzutzik

      Hey Dave

      Why didn’t people like you (maybe your father?) ever complain about this when East Jerusalem was under Jordanian rule?

      http://unispal.un.org/UNISPAL.NSF/0/A8138AD15B0FCAC385256B920059DEBF

      “After the cease-fire had entered into force and normal civilian administration had been restored in Jerusalem last June, a shocking picture was unfolded of the results of this policy of wanton vandalism, desecration and violation perpetrated during the period of Jordan occupation from 1948 onwards. In the Jewish Quarter all but one of the thirty-five Jewish houses of worship that graced the Old City of Jerusalem were found to have been wantonly destroyed. The synagogues had been razed or pillaged and stripped …”

      And it goes on.

      Reply to Comment
    5. David T.

      People like us don’t support razing houses of worship. People like you (maybe your statefounder?) do.

      Reply to Comment
      • Tzutzik

        Yes DavidT, I read your message loud and clear.

        Demolition and desecration of Jewish houses of worship by Arabs is OK.

        We should all only worry about what Jews do or don’t do. And if they don’t do it, let’s just invent it anyway or exaggerate everything bad that that Jews do when they do things that they should not be doing.

        Reply to Comment
    6. David T.

      “Yes DavidT, I read your message loud and clear.

      Demolition and desecration of Jewish houses of worship by Arabs is OK.”

      You really sound insane. I wrote that I don’t support razing houses of worship.

      Do you support this.
      http://www.haaretz.com/news/a-mosque-once-stood-here-1.169947

      Reply to Comment
      • Tzutzik

        “You really sound insane. I wrote that I don’t support razing houses of worship.”

        You did? After I pointed out to you that whatever wrong things Jews do to Arabs, the Arabs do at least as bad to Jews at least as often and probably worse and more often.

        Yet you come here and talk ONLY about wrongs done by Israel. Show me just one post of yours here in + 972 magazine in which you complained about Arab wrongs committed. You will be able to show me nil, zip, nada such posts. All you ever do here is vilify and demonize Israel.

        Now, David, “nice” old buddy, why don’t you come out of the closet and admit what a bigotted little old racist you are?

        Reply to Comment
    7. David T.

      “You did?”

      Are you dyslectic?

      “After I pointed out to you that whatever wrong things Jews do to Arabs, the Arabs do at least as bad to Jews at least as often and probably worse and more often.”

      I don’t even justify or downplay wrong doings by comparing them other crimes. Especially not by conflating Palestinian with other Arabs.

      “Show me just one post of yours here in + 972 magazine in which you complained about Arab wrongs committed.”

      I don’t need to, because contrary to your position mine is that a wrong doing is a wrong doing whoever commits it. It’s you who makes an exception if Jews commit wrong doings.

      “Now, David, “nice” old buddy, why don’t you come out of the closet and admit what a bigotted little old racist you are?”

      I will never have to ask you the same, because its obvious that you’re just talking about your mirror image.

      Reply to Comment
      • Tzutzik

        Are you dyslectic?

        No. Why do you ask?
        :)

        “I don’t even justify or downplay wrong doings by comparing them other crimes.”

        No, you just act as if whatever Jews do is unprovoked and is perpetrated against innocent Palestinians who just mind their own business and wouldn’t hurt a fly.

        “Especially not by conflating Palestinian with other Arabs.”

        See what I mean? What is this supposed to mean? The Palestinians have never done anything wrong against Jewish Palestinians? Only other Arabs did?

        “contrary to your position mine is that a wrong doing is a wrong doing whoever commits it.”

        But your position is not to talk about Palestinian wrongs.

        “It’s you who makes an exception if Jews commit wrong doings.”

        Really? Cast your pea brain back to what I said to you earlier on. I said that I am prepared to have an adult conversation with you as soon as you start talking about wrongs committed by Palestinians too. Think about that old buddy. That sentence has implications but I suspect that you are too dumb to pick up the clue.

        “I will never have to ask you the same, because its obvious that you’re just talking about your mirror image.”

        Mirror image? LOL, maybe we are making progress, although I doubt it. You don’t seem to pick up on the fact that I am deliberately trying to present to you YOUR OWN mirror image.
        :)

        Reply to Comment
    8. David T.

      “No. Why do you ask?”

      I asked you if you were dyslectic, because I wrote “People like us don’t support razing houses of worship.” and you asnwered “Yes DavidT, I read your message loud and clear.

      Demolition and desecration of Jewish houses of worship by Arabs is OK.”

      So what’s your excuse, if you’re not dyslectic? Compulsive lying?

      “No, you just act as if whatever Jews do is unprovoked and is perpetrated against innocent Palestinians who just mind their own business and wouldn’t hurt a fly.”

      I won’t bother to ask someone liky you to prove that. It will only end in more lies.

      “See what I mean? What is this supposed to mean? The Palestinians have never done anything wrong against Jewish Palestinians? Only other Arabs did?”

      It means that what you did to Palestinians is far worse than what they did to you.

      “But your position is not to talk about Palestinian wrongs.”

      First of all, have a good look into the mirror, allthoug I know that some of you prefer self-righteousness over self-awareness. Second, contrary to you I don’t challenge what’s humane and right and what’s not. I don’t deny the Shoa nor the Nakba and I don’t justify or deny crimes against international or human rights law, including the deliberate or reckless killing of civilians. I don’t support keeping humans expelled and denationalized or any state with the need to do so to preserve it’s Apartheid character.

      If I criticize Israel, my intention is not to criticize what it’s doing, allthoug it implies criticism of every other state doing the same. I critize how Israel and it’s apologetics deny or justify of what it’s doing. You won’t find me talking about Palestinian wrong doings, if there’s no a-hole trying to justify or deny it. And in the rare cases there is, I don’t need to, because you and others will do it and I won’t challenge it.

      “You don’t seem to pick up on the fact that I am deliberately trying to present to you YOUR OWN mirror image.”

      I picked up on the fact that you are just another Hasbara troll whose arguments are so weak that you have to focus on my person or twist my positions. And from my experience with Hasbara trolls this can be VERY obsessive.

      Reply to Comment
      • Tzutzik

        “It means that what you did to Palestinians is far worse than what they did to you.”

        David, you are a waste of space.

        The winning side always manages to inflict more harm to the losing side in all wars. Just ask the Japanese, or the Germans for that matter. America or even Britain did not suffer nearly as much as they did. Has America or Britain apologized about that? Of course not. Nor should they have.

        The Germans and the Japanese (to a lesser extent) on the other hand apologized for the war that THEY started. And the Palestinians should be made to do the same before they get ANYTHING!

        As for your troll accusation. Look at yourself. You literally infest this site with your posts … oops … I mean nonsense …

        And look at the length of your posts. They are long because you keep on repeating yourself endlessly. And you ignore anything inconvenient which dispells your stupid claims. That’s what trolls do. YOU are THE troll DAVID!

        Reply to Comment
    9. David T.

      “David, you are a waste of space.”

      Dehumanization fits your supremacist profile.

      “And the Palestinians should be made to do the same before they get ANYTHING!”

      Yes, they should apologize for defending their country against the hostile takeover by a gang of terrorists and seperatists, including their massacres, expulsions and disspossesions. Then they will get something from this theft.

      “And look at the length of your posts. They are long because you keep on repeating yourself endlessly. And you ignore anything inconvenient which dispells your stupid claims. That’s what trolls do. YOU are THE troll DAVID!”

      I know that your person orientated BS is much shorter. It also requires no intelligence at all which suits you very well.

      Reply to Comment
      • Tzutzik

        You are just a stupid little attack dog. Everyone of your accusations has been thoroughly debunked by people much better informed than yourself.

        You ignore everything that you are told and you keep on repeating yourself.

        Tell me who was your father? Goebbels? Or was he your grandfather?

        Repetition and lies do not make truth, David my boy.

        Reply to Comment
        • David T.

          I repeat my arguments, if others avoid them and try to shift the discussion away from them.

          If they are less intelligent and more aggressive they will not only stop arguing at all, but attack me and claim that my arguments were not only adressed, but also refuted.

          I appreciate all of this, because it demonstrates the dishonest and violent nature of Zionism and its apologetics and undermines their attempt to legitimize the illegitimate.

          Thank you for your assistance, Tzutzik.

          Reply to Comment
          • Tzutzik

            None of your arguments was avoided. You just pretend so because you are dishonest David.

            Reply to Comment
    10. davifd1964@gmx.net

      Please prove WHICH arguments were not avoided but debunkend and HOW. And we will discuss it.

      But if YOU are the one of us who is dishonest, than just remain silent or invent an excuse, why you won’t prove it. In that case, I will leave your pathetic excuse to be the last comment in this discussion as there’s no further need to prove your dishonesty.

      Reply to Comment
      • Tzutzik

        Oh no, David, you were not debunked by me. Like I said, I don’t feed trolls like you. But others debunked your non arguments. They did it very well. I wasn’t needed to do it.

        Reply to Comment
    11. David T.

      Yes, its obvious you can’t prove that my arguments were not avoided but debunkend and how. I’m asking to much from a troll. And thank you for proving my point, that you are the one who is dishonest and therefore would invent an excuse, not to prove your claim.

      Reply to Comment
      • Tzutzik

        You are a Nazi troll David. You know you are.

        You defend Nazis. You hate Jooooooos. You pretend that we are Nazis.

        You are a Nazi pig like your friend for whom you stood up for, DavidT.

        And I will keep on saying it to you everytime you come back, troll.

        I’ll say it to you again and again because you obviously like hearing it. And I like to oblige. See how nice I am to you David? LOL.

        Reply to Comment
    12. David T.

      “You are a Nazi troll David. You know you are.

      You defend Nazis. You hate Jooooooos. You pretend that we are Nazis.”

      Who do you mean by “we”? Are there even more self hating Nazis like you who hate Jews like me not defending Jews like you, who can’t even condem all the Nazi atrocities which did not concern Jews? ROFL.

      “See how nice I am to you David?”

      Yes, let everybody see, what someone like you understands by being “nice”. I bet you are even much, much, much nicer to Palestinians, especially to their childrens.

      Reply to Comment
      • Tzutzik

        “Who do you mean by “we”? Are there even more self hating Nazis like you who hate Jews like me …. ”

        You are a Jooooooo, David? But …. but … but … you said elsewhere that your parents told you that you are of Khazari descent. So where did you lie? To me or to Samuel?

        Either way, you seem to be a compulsive bare faced liar, David.

        Reply to Comment
    13. David T.

      “But …. but … but … you said elsewhere that your parents told you that you are of Khazari descent.”

      But …. but … but … that is not what they said, but what they specualted. And if they had said this, they would have meant Khazarians who converted to Judaism. They actually don’t know.

      Who was the first Jew in your family Ttutzik? A kohanim who married a converted goya?

      “Either way, you seem to be a compulsive bare faced liar, David.”

      Says Tzutzik, cute. At least tell the lie, that I’m a selfhating Jew. I don’t want antisemitism junkies like you go cold turkey and beat up Palestinian childrens.

      Reply to Comment
      • Tzutzik

        “But …. but … but … that is not what they said, but what they specualted. And if they had said this, they would have meant Khazarians who converted to Judaism. They actually don’t know.”

        And what do you know David?

        I will tell you what I know. I know that you are a light weight troll who cannot be taken seriously except on two things:

        1. That you are a compulsive liar.

        2. You hate Jooooooos

        I treat you accordingly.

        Reply to Comment
    14. David T.

      “And what do you know David?”

      I know that you can’t prove your ancestry, too.

      “I will tell you what I know. I know that you are a light weight troll who cannot be taken seriously except on two things:
      1. That you are a compulsive liar.
      2. You hate Jooooooos
      I treat you accordingly.”

      You seem to be stuck in a mental loop, Tzutzik. I can’t treat you. ROFL.

      Reply to Comment
      • Tzutzik

        ” … I can’t treat you. ROFL.”

        Whaaaaaaat? You want to treat me, David? I am your best hope of getting you to wake up from your stupor.

        Listen to me, first treat yourself, take your anti psychotic anti delusional medications, David. Otherwise, you will continue hearing voices. ROFL.

        Reply to Comment
    15. David T.

      Please Tzutik, I hope that you don’t feel disencouraged. I did not say, if I want to treat you or not. I only said that I can’t.

      So wouldn’t it be rather time for you to realize that it is not me who has to take anti psychotic anti delusional medications, but you Ttuzik?

      That would mean real progress and could make me hope that perhaps I or someone else might be able to treat you one day.

      But let us take babysteps and see first, how you are going to react to this truth and to the question I have to repeat:

      Who was the first Jew in your ancestry, Tzutzik?

      Reply to Comment
      • Tzutzik

        “Who was the first Jew in your ancestry, Tzutzik?”

        Only an Idiot like you could ask such a silly question.

        I’ll tell you what, David, you answer me a simpler question:

        Who was the first Nazi in your family David?

        Reply to Comment
    16. David T.

      “Only an Idiot like you could ask such a silly question.”

      No, only an idiot would claim that he can prove to be an ascendents of ancient Hebrews.

      “Who was the first Nazi in your family David?”

      I have no Nazis in my family. And contrary to you I condem all Nazi atrocities. So who was the first Nazi in you family?

      Reply to Comment
    17. Tzutzik

      “No, only an idiot would claim that he can prove to be an ascendents of ancient Hebrews”

      First of all, there is no need whatsoever to prove that EACH and EVERY individual Jew in Israel is a descendant of Hebrews. There is only a need to prove that most of us as a people are descendants of the Hebrews. Which we ARE. And Samuel already proved THAT to you. But you are either comprehension challenged or you are a troll who wants to repeat everything 100 times hoping that we will just get sick of you and go away.

      Well David, we ARE sick of you, but we won’t go away. Howzat?
      :)

      Reply to Comment
    18. David T.

      “There is only a need to prove that most of us as a people are descendants of the Hebrews.”

      That was not the point of issue.

      “Which we ARE.”

      Can you prove that at least?

      “And Samuel already proved THAT to you.”

      No, because all points of his prove can also be fulfilled by descendants of those who converted to Judaism in, let’s say, the Hellenistic era, in which Judaism was a proselytizing religion.

      Samuel, the wannabee descendant of ancient Hebews din’t even know about that. But what can you do, if a propaganda and education system wants to make you believe that Judaism is a race? (Not talking about Germany before 1945)

      By the way, where is your daily accusation of Jew hatred? I hope you are not sick. LOL.

      Reply to Comment
      • Tzutzik

        You poor little ignorant man David. Samuel also responded to your Helenistic era nonsense but I guess your brick like head is too thick (or resistant) to absorb the information. LOL.

        Reply to Comment
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