Breaking The Silence

(The links in this post are via this Metafilter post.) Some of these testimonies from Israeli soldiers are just stunning:

So they blew up two huge buildings and a police station. Because they blew up two buildings of 15-20 stories with a ton of explosives, so the whole nieghborhood had to be evacuated.The whole nieghborhood, it was an upscale neighborhood, and in the rich Palestinian neighborhoods there is one rule, they don’t shoot. Because if they shoot, then their home will be destroyed.Palestinians, Arabs are like Arabs, worry about their own ass. It was a nieghborhood of all the corrupt Palestinian Authority people. It was a nieghborhood, what can say, if you’ve ever been in north Tel Aviv, it’s the same.Villas and new cars.It wasn’t Gaza at all, I should only have such things. Huge houses, Villas, ofcourse they didn’t shoot at us even one bullet from there.

They blew up that area?

Yes, it was exploded. The story is that we had to evacuate 4000 people. Did you see Shindler’s list? When they evacuated the ghetto? although you have to make a thousand distinctions, it was an amazing picture. Really amazing, you see thousands of people. They pass in amored vehicles and big loud speakers shouting at them in Arabic,passing out leaflets, a special unit passes almost house to house and evacuates everybody, without shooting, nothing. But 4000 people, you can imagine. Those were very big buildings simply, the first thing that comes into your head is Shindler’s list. You see thousands of people with small children.

How were they evacuated?

How were they evacuated? They simply told them to go east. Just take everything and go east. 4000 people. In the middle of the night. You just see children, old people, women, all crammed into cars…on foot. Nothing, nothing an amazing sight….it just gives you the chills…as if, I just couldn’t…I just…I just….you can’t compare, but it was just like in the movie…ofcourse, you know it isn’t the same thing because you’re not a Nazi and you’re not killing them out of hatred or something. You’re even doing it for their own good, so that they don’t get hurt from the explosives, you understand. But I can’t help but not compare and not think about it.

One wonders if Nazi testimonials would sound much the same. This is from a new site called Breaking the Silence, which aims to reveal through soldier testimony the abuses suffered by the Palestinian people, “in order to force Israeli society to address the reality which it created.”

More discussion can be found in this Independent article:

Or using a 10-year-old child to locate and punish a 15-year-old stone-thrower: “So we got hold of just some Palestinian kid nearby, we knew that he knew who it had been. Let’s say we beat him a little, to put it mildly, until he told us. You know, the way it goes when your mind’s already screwed up, and you have no more patience for Hebron and Arabs and Jews there.

“The kid was really scared, realising we were on to him. We had a commander with us who was a bit of a fanatic. We gave the boy over to this commander, and he really beat the shit out of him … He showed him all kinds of holes in the ground along the way, asking him: ‘Is it here you want to die? Or here?’ The kid goes, ‘No, no!’

“Anyway, the kid was stood up, and couldn’t stay standing on his own two feet. He was already crying … And the commander continues, ‘Don’t pretend’ and kicks him some more. And then [name withheld], who always had a hard time with such things, went in, caught the squad commander and said, ‘Don’t touch him any more, that’s it.’ The commander goes, ‘You’ve become a leftie, what?’ And he answers, ‘No, I just don’t want to see such things.’

“We were right next to this, but did nothing. We were indifferent, you know. OK. Only after the fact you start thinking. Not right away. We were doing such things every day … It had become a habit…

“And the parents saw it. The commander ordered [the mother], ‘Don’t get any closer.’ He cocked his weapon, already had a bullet inside. She was frightened. He put his weapon literally inside the kid’s mouth. ‘Anyone gets close, I kill him. Don’t bug me. I kill. I have no mercy.’ So the father … got hold of the mother and said, ‘Calm down, let them be, so they’ll leave him alone.'”

And of course there are atrocities committed on the other side, but rarely do we get a glimpse of it from this angle. How do you stop the cycle of violence and inhumanity? For one thing, we could stop funding an army that acts like this. They keep the peace (for some), but at what cost?

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