December 22, 2010
Breaking the Silence has just published a landmark collection of soldier testimonies from the Occupied Territories spanning the period 2000-2010. The 432 page book can now be browsed, downloaded and embedded here.
If you read nothing else, take the time to look over the first to pages of the introduction for a simple and honest analysis of how the IDF degenerated into a tool of dispossession. Here’s its core:
From the descriptions given by the soldiers, one comes to grasp the logic of Israeli operations overall. The testimonies leave no room for doubt: while it is true that the Israeli security apparatus has had to deal with concrete threats in the past decade, including terrorist attacks on Israeli citizens, Israeli operations are not solely defensive.
Rather, they systematically lead to the de facto annexation of large sections of the West Bank to Israel through the dispossession of Palestinian residents. The widespread notion in Israeli society that the control of the Territories is intended exclusively to protect the security of Israeli citizens is incompatible with the information conveyed by hundreds of IDF soldiers.
The Israeli security forces and governmental bodies make consistent reference in the media and in internal discussions and military briefings to four components of Israeli policy in the Territories: ‘preventing terrorism’ or ‘prevention of hostile terrorist activity’ (sikkul); ‘separation’, i. e., Israel’s “separating itself” from the Palestinian population (hafradah); the need to preserve Palestinian ‘fabric of life’ (mirkam hayyim); and ‘law enforcement’ (akhifat hok) in the Territories.
But the terms that Israeli security forces apply to various components of Israeli policy in the Territories present a partial, often distorted, description of the policy and its consequences. These terms, once descriptive, quickly become code-words for activities that are unrelated to their original meaning.
This book describes the Israeli policies in the Territories which the State of Israel’s institutions do not disclose. The men and women soldiers whose testimonies appear in this book are an especially reliable source of information: they are not merely witnesses to Israeli policy; they have been entrusted with the task of carrying it out, and are — explicitly or implicitly — asked to conceal it as well.