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Breaking the Silence, an organization of Israelis who served in the IDF and work to expose human rights violations committed by Israel, released today a collection of soldiers’ testimonies called Children and Youth, Soldiers’ Testimonies 2005-2011. The report attests to the mistreatment of Palestinian children, still taking place, years after the peak of the Second Intifada.
Breaking the Silence is an organization of veteran combatants who have served in the Israeli military since the start of the Second Intifada and have taken it upon themselves to expose the Israeli public to the reality of everyday life in the Occupied Territories. We endeavor to stimulate public debate about the price paid for a reality in which young soldiers face a civilian population on a daily basis, and are engaged in the control of that population’s everyday life.
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."
Get ready for the usual this is just an Israeli hate thread comments
One day Israel will get what is has coming to them. That is a day I look forward too.
It's not about vengeance of judgement its about securing a just and positive peaceful solution for all those involved. The sooner the occupation ends and the Palestinians are able to create a true state where they can prosper the sooner Israel and its citizens can get on with their lives and not have to participate in such crimes.
This unfortunately seems a long way off.
Hafez Rajabi was marked for life by his encounter with the men of the Israeli army's Kfir Brigade five years ago this week. Sitting beneath the photograph of his late father, the slightly built 21-year-old in jeans and trainers points to the scar above his right eye where he was hit with the magazine of a soldier's assault rifle after the patrol came for him at his grandmother's house before 6am on 28 August 2007. He lifts his black Boss T-shirt to show another scar running some three inches down his back from the left shoulder when he says he was violently pushed – twice – against a sharp point of the cast-iron balustrade beside the steps leading up to the front door. And all that before he says he was dragged 300m to another house by a unit commander who threatened to kill him if he did not confess to throwing stones at troops, had started to beat him again, and at one point held a gun to his head. "He was so angry," says Hafez. "I was certain that he was going to kill me."
This is just one young man's story, of course. Except that – remarkably – it is corroborated by one of the soldiers who came looking for him that morning. One of 50 testimonies on the military's treatment of children – published today by the veterans' organisation Breaking the Silence – describes the same episode, if anything more luridly than Hafez does. "We had a commander, never mind his name, who was a bit on the edge," the soldier, a first sergeant, testifies. "He beat the boy to a pulp, really knocked him around. He said: 'Just wait, now we're taking you.' Showed him all kinds of potholes on the way, asked him: 'Want to die? Want to die right here?' and the kid goes: 'No, no...' He was taken into a building under construction. The commander took a stick, broke it on him, boom boom. That commander had no mercy. Anyway the kid could no longer stand on his feet and was already crying. He couldn't take it any more. He cried. The commander shouted: 'Stand up!' Tried to make him stand, but from so much beating he just couldn't. The commander goes: 'Don't put on a show,' and kicks him some more."
A spokesman for the Israeli Defence Forces said that Breaking the Silence had declined to provide the IDF with testimonies ahead of publication so they could be verified and investigated. He said its true intention was "to generate negative publicity regarding the IDF and its soldiers. The IDF has in the past, and continues to, call upon the organisation to immediately convey complaints or suspicions of improper conduct to the relevant authorities. In line with the IDF's ethical commitments, any such incidents will be thoroughly investigated."