Breaking the Silence has regularly released eyewitness accounts by IDF soldiers of abuse they either perpetrated or witnessed in their service in the Occupied Territories. The last round of testimonies concerned Operation Cast Lead. The latest round concerns female soldiers who recount their own peculiar set of experiences regarding such mistreatment. Ynetnews features a summary of key accounts. You can hear them and read the original Hebrew article here. Here are a few of the more shocking passages:
‘Child’s hand broken on the chair’
A female soldier in Sachlav Military Police unit, stationed in Hebron, recalled a Palestinian child that would systematically provoke the soldiers by hurling stones at them…One time he even managed to scare a soldier who fell from his post and broke his leg.
Retaliation came soon after: “I don’t know who or how, but I know that two of our soldiers put him in a jeep, and that two weeks later the kid was walking around with casts on both arms and legs…they talked about it in the unit quite a lot – about how they sat him down and put his hand on the chair and simply broke it right there on the chair.”
Even small children did not escape arbitrary acts of violence, said a Border Guard female officer serving near the separation fence: “We caught a five-year-old…can’t remember what he did…we were taking him back to the territories or something, and the officers just picked him up, slapped him around and put him in the jeep. The kid was crying and the officer next to me said ‘don’t cry’ and started laughing at him. Finally the kid cracked a smile – and suddenly the officer gave him a punch in the stomach. Why? ‘Don’t laugh in my face’ he said.”
“Crossing the checkpoint, it’s like another world… Palestinians walk with trolleys on the side of the road, with wagons, donkeys… so the Border Guards take a truck with the remains of food and start throwing it at them… cottage cheese, rotten vegetables… it was the most appalling thing I experienced in the territories.”
The soldier said she tried to protest, but was silenced by the commanding officers. When she tried to go around them to higher authorities, she found a solution. “Almost immediately I got into an officers’ course.”
This is perhaps the most disturbing of the stories recounted. As you read it, remember that the Hebron Fund raises millions of American Jewish dollars to support precisely this type of behavior by settler children against innocent Palestinian civilians. It simply breaks my heart for the victims to face such violence perpetrated by Jews, who do so out of some perverted notion that their religion somehow justifies, nay demands such treatment. This literally makes me sick to my stomach not just as a human being, but as a Jew. In fact, I would dare even someone supporting the settlers to try to explain, defend or justify this:
Another female Sachlav soldier told the story of the time an eight-year-old settler girl in Hebron decided to bash a stone into the head of a Palestinian adult crossing her passing by her in the street. “Boom! She jumped on him, and gave it to him right here in the head… then she started screaming ‘Yuck, yuck, his blood is on me'”.
The soldier said the Palestinian then turned in the girl’s direction – a move that was interpreted as a threat by one of the soldiers in the area, who added a punch of his own: “And I stood there horrified… an innocent little girl in her Shabbat dress… the Arab covered the wound with his hand and ran.” She recalled another incident with the same child: “I remember she had her brother in the stroller, a baby. She was giving him stones and telling him: ‘Throw them at the Arab‘.”
Where does such hate come from? How can it be justified? Even by settlers themselves? And does anyone who seeks to explain this behavior believe that this hate is in the minority in this movement?
And how can any American Jew, even the most extreme, justify giving a dime to support such people. Doing so is a hillul hashem, a desecration of God’s name. Further, how can the U.S. government allow such donations to be tax-deductible? Not in my name. That’s what I say. Barack Obama: this is what your and my taxpayer dollars indirectly subsidize. Stop this now! Repeal the non-profit status of all U.S. funders supporting settler groups.
The account below describes how easy it is to kill Palestinian children and cover up the crime:
A female Border Guard officer in Jenin spoke of an incident in which a nine-year-old Palestinian, who tried to climb the fence, failed, and fled – was shot to death: “They fired… when he was already in the territories and posed no danger. The hit was in the abdomen area, they claimed he was on a bicycle and so they were unable to hit him in the legs.”
But the soldier was most bewildered by what happened next between the four soldiers present: “They immediately got their stories straight… An investigation was carried out, at first they said it was an unjustified killing… In the end they claimed that he was checking out escape routes for terrorists or something… and they closed the case.”
I find the following story especially intriguing because it details the complexity of the gender relationships at work for a female soldier goaded into abusing Palestinian victims by a male superior officer. She deals with her own vulnerability as a minority female in a male bastion, the IDF, by out-doing her male counterparts for violence. The fact that she’s abusing a Palestinian man, for whom such degradation at the hands of a woman is an especial cultural badge of shame, adds to the strangeness of the entire incident:
‘They don’t know how to accept the women’
The female soldiers repeatedly mention the particular difficulties they had as women, who had to prove that to were “fighters” in the midst of the goading male soldiers on the one hand, and the Palestinians, who have a hard time handling women in uniform on the other hand. The following story of a female Border Guard officer sums the matter up.
When the interviewer asked her if the Palestinians “suffer even more from the women in the Border Guard”, she said: “Yes. Yes. Because they don’t know how to accept the women. The moment a girl slaps a man, he is so humiliated, he is so humiliated he doesn’t know what to do with himself… I am a strong and well-built girl, and this is even harder for them to handle. So one of their ways of coping is to laugh. They really just started to laugh at me. The commander looks at me and tells me, ‘What? Are you going to let that slide? Look how he’s laughing at you’.
“And you, as someone who has to salvage your self-respect… I told them to sit down and I told him to come…I told him to come close, I really approached him, as if I was about to kiss him. I told him, ‘Come, come, what are you afraid of? Come to me!’ And I hit him in the balls. I told him, ‘Why aren’t you laughing?’ He was in shock, and then he realized that… not to laugh. It shouldn’t reach such a situation.”
You hit him with your knee?
“I hit him in the balls. I took my foot, with my military show, and hit him in the balls. I don’t know if you’ve ever been hit in the balls, but it looks like it hurts. He stopped laughing in my face because it hurt him. We then took him to a police station and I said to myself, ‘Wow, I’m really going to get in trouble now.’ He could complain about me and I could receive a complaint at the Military police’s criminal investigation division.
“He didn’t say a word…I was afraid about myself, not about him. But he didn’t say a word. ‘What should I say, that a girl hit me?’ And he could have said, but thank God, three years later I didn’t get anything and no one knows about it.”
What did it feel like that moment?
“Power, strength that I should not have achieved this way. But I didn’t brag about it. That’s why I did it that way, one on one. I told them to sit on the side, I saw that he wasn’t looking. I said to myself that it doesn’t make sense that as a girl who gives above and beyond and is worth more than some boys – they should laugh at me like that because I am a girl. Because you think I can’t do it…”
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- English Translation of the YNET article on Female IDF Soldiers Breaking the Silence (themagneszionist.blogspot.com)
- Breaking the Silence exposes humiliation of Palestinians, violence and theft by IDF soldiers (promisedlandblog.com)