Breaking the Silence marked its ten-year anniversary on June 7th, in Tel Aviv’s Habima Square. Some 350 former soldiers, politicians, journalists and activists spent ten hours reciting witness statements from soldiers who served on the West Bank, in Gaza and East Jerusalem. In the decade the organisation has existed, it has collected 950 statements from soldiers who served in the Israeli defence Force (IDF). These statements raise the question whether the ‘defence force’ actually protects Israel against ‘terrorists’. Breaking the Silence is a belief organisation funded by, amongst others, The Norwegian Foreign Office, which in 2012 gifted them 64,000 Dollar, and the Norwegian Church Aid (NCA) which provided transport means for them to be able to spread their message abroad. The organisation tries to make the reality of ‘the military occupancy of the occupied territories’ public knowledge. They confront people internally in Israel with the reality of what soldiers in the occupied areas actually do. Their statements describe how soldiers routinely harass and suppress Palestinians, whilst the outside world are told that abuse is only connected with ‘a few rotten apples’ in the Army.
The enemy was the entire Palestinian population.
In Tel Aviv, former sniper Nadav Weiman explains how they shot and killed an unarmed Palestinian, simply because he spoke on his mobile phone in a suspicious manner. Their officer gave the go-ahead, adding how “lucky” they were to be able to shoot during an operation. Others describe massive demolitions of Palestinian homes as something to “add to their list of war crimes”. Furthermore, some explained how they provoked Palestinian youths into throwing stones. One officer said to his privates after years of training, “I expect you to bring me a dead terrorist.” To the crowd gathered at Habima Square, Avner Gvaryahu explains how they went out at night harassing people in a bid to get attacked – missions entitled “provoke and react”. In Nablus, Hebron and Jenin, soldiers randomely select passing old men to beat up.
Becoming a combat …
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