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‘What Our Society Is Made of’: Former IDF Soldiers Confess Abuse of Palestinian Children August 27, 2012

Posted by rogerhollander in Human Rights, Israel, Gaza & Middle East, War.
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Published on Monday, August 27, 2012 by Common Dreams

– Common Dreams staff

Testimony by ex-Israeli Defense Force soldiers reveals a devastating portrayal of ill-treatment and abuse of Palestinian youth by members of Israel’s occupying army in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

An Israeli soldier restrains a Palestinian girl crying over the arrest of her mother during a protest over land confiscation in al-Nabi Saleh. (Photo: AFP)

The testimony by more than 30 soldiers, and fashioned into a booklet by Breaking the Silence, an organisation of former IDF soldiers dedicated to speaking out against Israeli policy in the occupied territories, contains descriptions of beatings, intimidation and humiliation of Palestinian children.

“It is crucial that people in Israel are confronted about what it means for Palestinian children to live under military occupation,” says Yehuda Shaul, one of the founders of Breaking the Silence.

“This is what [Israeli] society is made of, you cannot ignore it, you cannot just run away from it — this is who we are as people and I think this is something we should face.”

The group plans to hand out copies of the testimonies to Israel high school students in the coming weeks as the school year begins.

“Exposing our teens to this reality is not a trivial matter,” says Avner Gvaryahu, a former soldier who both contributed testimony for the report and works for the organization.

“The group hesitated to distribute the brochure among high school students,” he said, “but it was eventually decided to go through with it. I’m queasy about it even though I understand that it’s necessary… If you’re old enough to enlist and carry a weapon, you’re old enough to know what’s really happening in the territories.”

The Independent excerpts testimony from the booklet:

First Sergeant, Kfir Brigade

Salfit 2009

“We took over a school and had to arrest anyone in the village who was between the ages of 17 and 50. When these detainees asked to go to the bathroom, and the soldiers took them there, they beat them to a pulp and cursed them for no reason, and there was nothing that would legitimise hitting them. An Arab was taken to the bathroom to piss, and a soldier slapped him, took him down to the ground while he was shackled and blindfolded. The guy wasn’t rude and did nothing to provoke any hatred or nerves. Just like that, because he is an Arab. He was about 15, hadn’t done a thing.

“In general people at the school were sitting for hours in the sun. They could get water once in a while, but let’s say someone asked for water five times, a soldier could come to him and slap him just like that. I saw many soldiers using their knees to hit them, just out of boredom. Because you’re standing around for 10 hours doing nothing, you’re bored, so you hit them. I know that at the bathroom, there was this ‘demons’ dance’ as it was called. Anyone who brought a Palestinian there – it was catastrophic. Not bleeding beatings – they stayed dry – but still beatings.”

First Sergeant, Combat Engineering Corps

Ramallah 2006-07

“There was this incident where a ‘straw widow’ was put up following a riot at Qalandiya on a Friday, in an abandoned house near the square. Soldiers got out with army clubs and beat people to a pulp. Finally the children who remained on the ground were arrested. The order was to run, make people fall to the ground. There was a 10- to 12-man team, four soldiers lighting up the area. People were made to fall to the ground, and then the soldiers with the clubs would go over to them and beat them. A slow runner was beaten – that was the rule.

“We were told not to use it on people’s heads. I don’t remember where we were told to hit, but as soon as a person on the ground is beaten with such a club, it’s difficult to be particular.”

First Sergeant, Kfir Brigade

Hebron 2006-07

“We’d often provoke riots there. We’d be on patrol, walking in the village, bored, so we’d trash shops, find a detonator, beat someone to a pulp, you know how it is. Search, mess it all up. Say we’d want a riot? We’d go up to the windows of a mosque, smash the panes, throw in a stun grenade, make a big boom, then we’d get a riot.

“Every time we’d catch Arab kids.You catch him, push the gun against his body. He can’t make a move – he’s totally petrified. He only goes: ‘No, no, army.’ You can tell he’s petrified. He sees you’re mad, that you couldn’t care less about him and you’re hitting him really hard the whole time. And all those stones flying around. You grab him like this, you see? We were mean, really. Only later did I begin to think about these things, that we’d lost all sense of mercy.”

Rank and unit unidentified in report

Hebron 2007-08

“One night, things were hopping in Idna village [a small town of 20,000 people, about 13km west of Hebron], so we were told there’s this wild riot, and we should get there fast. Suddenly we were showered with stones and didn’t know what was going on. Everyone stopped suddenly; the sergeant sees the company commander get out of the vehicle and joins him. We jump out without knowing what was going on – I was last. Suddenly I see a shackled and blindfolded boy. The stoning stopped as soon as the company commander gets out of the car. He fired rubber ammo at the stone-throwers and hit this boy.

“At some point they talked about hitting his face with their knees. At that point I argued with them and said: ‘I swear to you, if a drop of his blood or a hair falls off his head, you won’t sleep for three nights. I’ll make you miserable.’

Comments

 and the West Bank are open air concentration camps, these are the new Warsaw Ghetto.
Auschwitz is still in operation it has been renamed Gaza, and the students have outdid the master.
 

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    Veronica Hope4 hours ago

    I have seen video footage of the violence against Palestinians by the Israeli forces…this was twenty years ago. The Israeli’s have become everything that we hated about Hitler’s regime. Maybe there’s no gas chambers, but does that make it OK? As an American, I am ashamed of what our troops have done in the middle east. I am ashamed that my government continues to give money to the Israeli’s. I am ashamed that my government has continued to perpetuate this brutality. Please forgive those of us who are trying to change that. Please forgive the Jewish people around the world for what the Israeli’s are doing. Hateful, abusive people are found in every “developed” society. They are the fringe in most cases, but those who do nothing to stop these atrocities are just as bad.

     

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    sasboy2 hours ago

    Barbaric as the treatment meted out to Palestinians, including minors is, it is comforting to know there are at least some Israelis with the character to come forward and confront the truth about the occupation.

     
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  • What a powerful video. Pity that it, or anything like it, will never be seen on mainstream media in the U.S.

     

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    Ibo Thorbas5 hours ago

    The opportunity missed by Israel after the second world war can be measured by all the budgets all the world knows today that support war. Whatever the supposed, collective religious claims of that nation may be, they like so many others, are visibly set against peace. War is the proof.

    Irrespective of our collective failures, the opportunity to end war today must now be measured by the social implications of shifting out of and away from what may be the greatest weight of failed, misguided financial foolishness humanity has ever known. You won’t stop spending what you spend on war. All human suffering today is the price humanity pays for your commitment to war. The budget is the proof.

    Rectifying this insane imbalance stands as the greatest challenge human intelligence has ever been faced with. Honesty and commitment to the obvious alternative is the straight-line solution.

    How many need to be strapped into a movie theater seat Clockwork Orange style to be compelled to come to understand the real implications of their own complicity. How do we take collective responsibility for the real Task of shifting away from our collective commitment to the priority of warring ways of competition.

    War or Peace has risen to the place of a final, fortunately single, wide-scale, potentially world-wide policy choice. It is the measure of your investments that prevents the essential honesty necessary to the only agenda that matters in our world today. Everything else we speak about by any means in public is convenient avoidance resting either in denial or resignation all of which is the childish, irresponsible, myopic immaturity of fear.

    Any adult among us who will not stand for the essential, single, polite demand for a worldwide agenda founding a final peace has reason to educate him- or herself about the real details of the financial reality currently committed to weaponry and ALL the skins it infects.

    All of every other thing any of us pay any attention to whatsoever is entirely irrelevant. One nation, any nation, ready to stand for Peace could accomplish the necessary Task, and today none will.

     

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    dus75 hours ago

    One could substitute [any armed forces] abusing and terrorizing [any subject civilian population] during [any occupation in any part of the world during any time period].

    I appreciate this apparently truthful news piece and just want to expand it to the bigger picture of what horrid things we humans historically and currently are, unfortunately, capable of. It’s not a pretty picture but is one we have to acknowledge before we can move forward to eventually become what we could and should be.

    It may be as simple as teaching how to handle anger and frustration as well as the rewards of caring and helping others. Of course, the PTB do the opposite, guiding anger and frustration of whatever group against some other group, keeping the horrid injustice going on and on and on. If there is an ‘enemy’, it’s those who lie and encourage or condone inhumane behavior.

     

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    Tanz Sixfingers5 hours ago

    It always appalls me the evils people do to each other in the name of religion.

     

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    galen0662 hours ago

    So kind of the IDF to provide documentary evidence of their crimes against humanity…

     

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    Ira Wechsler33 minutes ago

    This violence and hatred toward Palestinians is no more an accident or “fringe behavior” than is any other racist actions we see around the globe or in our own cities. This is drummed into soldiers of the US as they are sent into the Middle East and Afghanistan. They call Iraqis and Afghani’s Haji’s and towel heads. This is what the army wants , so they can prosecute this war and commit the atrocities necessary to make way for their dominance of energy sources around the globe.for the benefiit of Exxon-Mobil and the finance bankers of Wall Street. the Israeli’s are no different in their racism and fascist control of occupied territories than other larger imperialists. They all represent the sickness of capitalism and the need for a global communist movement to lead our class to bring about revolutionary change and rule of the 99%, the working class. We nned revolutionary youth to be organized to go into the military and win the alliegiance of working class GI’s , so when we are strong enough we can turn the guns around and bring down the imperialist empires. Then and only then can we hope to establish an egalitarian world without racism, war, exploitatrion or money. Then we can produce and distribute to all based on neednot profit.

     

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    northstatean hour ago

    History will show that when Truman gave Palestinian land to the Jews from Germany, the Arab leaders told him that there would be no peace thereafter. There has been no peace. The Palestinians had nothing to do with the Holocaust. The Diaspora happened 2,000 years ago. Under what law did Truman have the right to give land in the Middle East to German Jews? Prior to that, German Jews were migrating peacefully to Palestine and buying land to farm. They were neighbors of the local Palestinians. That worked. The Wahrburg banking family in NYC donated money to plant trees and build schools. They told Truman not to expropriate land from the Palestinians, not to create a State of Israel. We now have a permanent state of war; we now have a permanent occupation of Palestinian land. And, to add to this awfulness, Israel is encouraging Russian Jews to come to Israel for “free” land. Settlers on the West Bank are expropriating more land from Palestinian pastoral farmers. When does it stop? When does the United States Congress stop supporting this land grab?

     

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