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breaking the silence

occupation of the territories
Israeli soldier testimonies 2000-2010

breaking the silence

In June 2004, over sixty former soldiers of the Israel Defense Forces presented
an exhibition of written testimonies and photographs from their military service
in Hebron. The exhibition led to the founding of Breaking the Silence, an
organization that depicts the Israeli Occupation in the words of the soldiers
entrusted with carrying it out. From its inception, the goal of Breaking the
Silence has been to expose the day-to-day reality of military service in the
Occupied Territories. The organization interviews men and women who have
served in the security forces since the outbreak of the Second Intifada in
September 2000, and publishes their testimonies on its website, in booklets,
and in the media. The organization holds ongoing public events, lectures,
parlor meetings, and tours in the Territories in an attempt to encourage public
debate about events there.
To date, the organization has published six booklets: Breaking the Silence:
Soldiers’ Testimonies from Hebron, 2004; Testimony Collection #1, which
deals with cases of IDF soldier abuse, violence, and looting in the Territories;
Testimony Collection #2, which discusses rules of engagement in the
Territories; Soldiers’ Testimonies from Hebron, 2005-2007; Soldiers Tell About
‘Operation Cast Lead,’ Gaza, 2009; and Breaking the Silence - Female Soldiers
Testify about their Military Service in the Territories.
This volume contains more than 180 testimonies from 101 witnesses interviewed
by the organization - both women and men. The testimonies were selected as
representative of material contained in the more than 700 interviews conducted
by the organization since its inception. They describe Israel’s operational
methods in the Territories and its consequences. The witnesses represent

occupation of the territories

all strata of Israeli society and nearly all IDF units engaged in the Occupied
Territories. They include testimonies of commanders and officers as well.
All testimonies published by Breaking the Silence are collected by military
veterans and verified prior to publication, including the testimonies that appear
in this book. It should be emphasized that unless noted otherwise, the
testimonies published here are reported by eyewitnesses, and in their own
words. Minor alterations have been made to remove identifying details and
to clarify military terms. As in previous publications of the organization, the
identities of witnesses are kept confidential. Without anonymity, it would be
impossible to make public the information published here.
This book differs in content and scope from previous collections of testimonies
published by Breaking the Silence. Whereas earlier publications were devoted
to specific aspects of military force in the Territories, this volume describes
the IDF’s principal methods of operation, as well as the policies of the Israeli
authorities who control the Territories. Though the soldiers’ descriptions
are limited to their personal experiences, an evaluation of the entire body
of testimonies published here exposes the principles of Israeli policy in the
Occupied Territories. Contrary to the official Israeli position, which portrays
the IDF’s activities in the Territories as fundamentally defensive and intended
to prevent harm to Israeli civilians, the soldiers’ testimonies describe the policy
on the ground as an offensive one which includes expropriation of territory,
tightening control over the civilian population, and instilling fear.
Israel’s policy in the Territories is often referred to in public discussion by a few

breaking the silence

familiar terms. Each chapter in this book examines one of these terms, and
compares it with the testimonies of IDF soldiers.
Despite its scope, this book does not describe all the means by which the
State of Israel controls the Territories; it is limited to the information brought
to light in the soldiers’ testimonies. Likewise, the book does not consider
the variety of activities connected with the work of the General Security
Services (“Shabak”) and other intelligence agencies, nor is it concerned with the
operations and activities of the military courts, which constitute an important
component of the structure of military rule in the Territories. There are other
aspects of the military administration, besides the aforementioned, which are
not discussed in the book, and so this book should not be read as an attempt
to address all components of the Occupation. The goal of the book is to
explain the principal operational methods of the forces that are charged with
preserving the public peace and defending Israeli civilians.
Breaking the Silence considers exposing the truth about Israel’s policy in the
Occupied Territories to be a moral obligation and a necessary condition for a
more just society. To ignore testimonies of the Occupation given clearly and
unambiguously here is to surrender a fundamental right of Israeli citizens - the
right to know the truth about their own actions and the actions of those who
operate in their name. We demand accountability regarding Israel’s military
actions in the Occupied Territories perpetrated by us and in our name.
We would like to take this opportunity to thank those who contributed to and
assisted with the publication of this book.

occupation of the territories

Table of Contents
p. 4-6


p. 16-22


Chapter 1: Intimidation of the Palestinian Population – “Prevention”
p. 26-30


p. 32-35


p. 36

Testimony 1

I didn’t know what a “demonstration of presence” really meant

p. 37-38

Testimony 2

Stun grenades at three in the morning

p. 38

Testimony 3

To create a lack of sleep for the village

p. 39-40

Testimony 4

They called it an “arousal operation”

p. 41-43

Testimony 5

They beat him up, smashed his head with the butt of their weapons

p. 43-45

Testimony 6

The deputy brigade commander beat up a restrained detainee

p. 45-46

Testimony 7

A bound man, they kick him in his stomach and head

p. 46-47

Testimony 8

The unit commander used a guy as a human shield

p. 47-50

Testimony 9

We would send neighbors to disarm explosives

p. 50-54

Testimony 10

p. 54-55

Testimony 11

Testimony 12
p. 55-57

I couldn’t believe how an order to kill someone could be carried out
in a minute
A death sentence for an unarmed man
The battalion commander gave an order to shoot at those trying
to recover the bodies

p. 57-58

Testimony 13

He took down an eleven year-old boy

p. 58-59

Testimony 14

Her limbs were smeared on the wall

p. 60-62

Testimony 15

We sent him to open the house for us

p. 62-63

Testimony 16

The commander from the special forces put the barrel into his mouth

p. 63-67

Testimony 17

The brigade commander explained: “You go up to a body, put the
barrel between its teeth, and fire”

p. 67-69

Testimony 18

The objective is maximum kills

p. 69-70

Testimony 19

They told the force to shoot at anyone in the street

p. 71-72

Testimony 20

Every kid you see with a stone, you can shoot

p. 72-73

Testimony 21

The battalion commander was violent and encouraged violence

p. 73-74

Testimony 22

The battalion commander marched him barefoot

p. 75

Testimony 23

At the end of the incident he had deep cuts on his feet

p. 76-80

Testimony 24

We assembled all the men in the stadium

p. 81

Testimony 25

Disrupting the everyday life of residents

p. 81-82

Testimony 26

In the middle of the night with stun grenades and flash explosives

p. 82-83

Testimony 27

Slapping, pushing, all kinds of things like that. Everyday

p. 83-85

Testimony 28

Purposeless arrests

p. 85-86

Testimony 29

The investigator gave him a deadly beating

p. 86

Testimony 30

The guys slaughtered his chicken

p. 87

Testimony 31

The guys set up like a pipe, to pee

p. 87-89

Testimony 32

To take control of some family

p. 90-91

Testimony 33

Moving Human Shield

p. 92-93

Testimony 34

We once caught some kid

p. 93-96

Testimony 35

You could do whatever you want: no one would ask

p. 96-98

Testimony 36

We crushed tens of cars

Testimony 37
p. 98-99

The commander decided: every car we pass, we’ll put a burst of
gunfire in

p. 99-104

Testimony 38

I shot at an ambulance with a machine gun

p. 104-105

Testimony 39

It definitely happened that we sent half a block there flying

p. 105-107

Testimony 40

They threw a grenade at him, and then they put a bullet in his head

p. 107

Testimony 41

The commander said: “I want riddled bodies”

p. 107-110 Testimony 42

p. 110-113

Testimony 43

The division commander said: “You are measured by the number of
people you kill”
The punishment for killing a child: one hundred shekel fine

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