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Testimonies: 'This is How We Fought in Gaza'

Breaking the Silence, an organization of Israeli combat veterans who want to expose the Israeli public to the realities of the occupation, publishes a report compiling over 60 testimonies of soldiers and officers who served in 2014’s Gaza war, Operation Protective Edge.

The testimonies in this collection close the yawning gaps between what the IDF and government spokespersons told the public about the combat that took place in Gaza, and the reality described by the soldiers who took part in the operation.

The testimonies reveal the guiding military principle of “minimum risk to our forces, even at the cost of harming innocent civilians,” which alongside efforts to deter and intimidate the Palestinians, led to massive and unprecedented harm to the population and the civilian infrastructure in the Gaza Strip.

Read more: Redefining civilians and legitimate targets: Israeli soldiers testify on Gaza

Breaking the Silence is an organization of veteran combatants who have served in the Israeli military since the start of the Second Intifada and have taken it upon themselves to expose the Israeli public to the reality of everyday life in the Occupied Territories. We endeavor to stimulate public debate about the price paid for a reality in which young soldiers face a civilian population on a daily basis, and are engaged in the control of that population’s everyday life.

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      • Ben

        The complaint here seems to be 1. They get funding from outside. 2. They direct their message not just to Israelis but to outsiders. 3. They have a political agenda. My response to all three is, So what? Yahuda Shaul is right. Of course, a radically internal and external propaganda-undermining organization such as Breaking the Silence will always be fiercely attacked. Their very existence is a shocking, eye-opening message in its own right. Their very existence in such a military-glorifying, military-rewarding, tightly-message-controlled society like Israel today is remarkable and speaks volumes.

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    1. Pedro X

      One can not talk about Israel fought, without stating how Hamas fought. Times of Israel carries today an article in which ex-IDF chief Benny Gantz states that the mortar fired from Gaza which killed four-year-old Daniel Tragerman was fired from a UN facility. This is how Hamas fought, from civilian areas, hospitals, UN facilities, mosques, and peoples homes.

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      • Bruce Gould

        Asymmetrical warfare is particularly ugly – see, for example, any accurate history of the American revolution – it was a lot like Vietnam. Or, perhaps, the accounts of Moshe Dayan’s troops depopulating entire Palestinian villages.

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        • Ricky Rocket

          Bruce, don’t you ever get bored of posting disingenuous drivel? You are not clever at all. Your obsession with Jews and power is quite sickening.

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      • Proud Miza Jew

        And how exactly does an EX IDF chief have this information? Oh right… he wouldn’t. The fact that it came form an IDF chief at all speaks bias. But when its ACTIVE IDF soldiers coming out its quite credible, since they were actually THERE. Amazing how none of them have said anything about this but have admitted to using human shields and using civilians for target practice and executing mentally disabled people.

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        • Pedro X

          “And how exactly does an EX IDF chief have this information?”

          Because Gantz was not ex-chief at the time of the war and as commander in chief had access to all military reports and intelligence. Gantz served a total of 38 years in the IDF, the last four years as chief of staff. He was an experienced, skilled and cautious officer who has seen war from all angles. As chief of staff he coordinated the last two Gaza wars. So his word means something.

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          • David T.

            Gantz? Are we talking about this war criminal?
            “Operation Protective Edge is his, hundreds of innocent dead are notched into his rifle butt. “Black Friday” in Rafah is also Gantz’s black day; all the lies of the most moral army, including the “advance notices,” “warning shots” and “lack of intention” to harm civilians; the bombing of homes with their residents inside, the bombing of UNRWA schools and shelters, and the explicit intention of attacking the homes of Hamas activists, no matter who is there – the general of Protective Edge is responsible, Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz.

            The good and honest man Gantz is also responsible for the behavior of his army in the West Bank. “Operation Brother’s Keeper” is Gantz, and the systematic shooting at demonstrators and rock throwers is Gantz, and the arrests of children is Gantz and the demolition of houses is Gantz. They are not just the gung ho soldiers who fired, they are not just the commanders who commanded and covered up – it is first and foremost Gantz, the supreme commander.

            The army that killed Yusef Shawamreh, a 14-year-old boy who went to pick gundelia plants; or Samir Awad, a 16-year-old youth who was shot in the back while fleeing, is Gantz’s army, the chief of staff who never came out against these killings.”

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    2. Bar

      Since BTS is here, would they kindly tell us all why we should accept anything they publish considering their donors REQUIRED that they provide a report with criticism of Israel, and a huge chunk of money was given to them by a Palestinian organization that funds a PFLP-connected group?

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      • Ben

        Because (1) They are honorable Israeli IDF soldiers, patriots who fought for their country and come to you in sobriety and good faith and whose reports have the ring of authenticity. That is, they are credible. (2) Their whole purpose is to break the silence. You expected a paean to Boogie Ya’alon and the artillery? (3) By your logic we should peremptorily reject anything the IDF says because the governments of Israel and the USA fund it. (4) We missed your clarion call to ignore Israel Hayom because a pathologically Obama-hating (and James Baker/Jeb Bush-hating!) American casino magnate in Nevada funds it lock, stock and barrel. (5) It is a standard McCarthyite technique of the paranoid right wing to decry sinister leftist infiltrators backed by shadowy foreign forces everywhere among their own populace. What makes the exemplary soldiers of Breaking The Silence so remarkable is their placement, their rock solid credibility and their innate relative immunity from scurrilous charges. (6) It would benefit the credibility of the right wing on these pages to work to shed their image as practitioners of the following ethos: “What can we get away with?” Enough?

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        • Bar

          What credibility? Your say-so? My guess is that I’ve watched more of their videos and read more of their anonymous testimonies than most precisely because I keep looking for that smoking gun. I find that most of their testimonies are meaningless. A soldier who did something wrong who then extrapolates that it’s the army that did it, not him. Another soldier who tells a story without realizing that he’s a small cog and has no clue what the bigger picture is. Another story about a commander who speaks viciously about the enemy. I mean, really.

          If Israel was funded by Egypt, I’d worry. How is it you’re not worried that this report was funded by a Palestinian entity? What, they’re credible suddenly? You want to tell us stories about their civil movement? The Palestinians are Israel’s enemies. Period. A group that funds anti-Israel groups funded BTS. European governments that are building “facts on the ground” in Area C in violation of an international treaty between Israel and the PNA, fund BTS and DEMAND that it provide a certain number of “interviews” that demonstrate problems with the IDF.

          And worst of all? The testimonies are anonymous. I mean, really, what’s going to happen? Somebody is going to do a hit-job on them because they tell a story about how they used up all their ammo? Anonymous testimony means you can’t verify ANYTHING. I could make up a story about an elderly man being intentionally run over by a D-9 and nobody could challenge my story because nobody knows where it took place, when it happened, which unit was there or if it’s just the fruit of some anti-Israeli activist’s mind.

          Zero credibility. Zero. The only people who take them seriously – other than to take seriously the damage they cause with their blood libel of IDF soldiers – are those who are predisposed to attacking Israel and finding fault with it at all times. This is a shameful report by shameless actors and is being pushed in the media by irresponsible publishers.

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          • David T.

            “What credibility?”

            The credibility of someone who is a soldier who has witnessed or even comitted war crimes vs. the credibility of those who deny them, because they ordered or even planned them.

            Seriously, your pseudo arguments are even worse than those of deniers of far greater crimes against humanity.

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          • Bar

            Thanks for demonstrating you have no response.

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    3. Ben

      These videotapes testimonies taken by Breaking the Silence of soldiers (their voices altered, face blurred to protect identity) will put to rest any nonsense about these accounts possibly being “fiction.” It makes me realize that the extremists here claiming a few days ago that the “anonymity” renders these accounts not credible were simply engaging in a mass distraction attack–belaboring a nonissue. These reports are amazingly credible and they are damning. You have to view them to understand that. Once you hear these soldiers speak you will get it. What you’ll also realize is that these soldiers giving these testimonies are Israel’s finest.


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