first collection of soldiers’testimonies

published by the Israeli organisation, Breaking the Silence,

A new booklet has been released telling the stories of Israeli women soldiers who served in

the Occupied Territories.

Their stories include the killing of innocent people,the systematic humiliation

of Palestinians, recklessand cruel violence, theft and cover-up. Many of these young

women end up engaging in acts, or turning a blind eye to acts, that will

burden them years later.

But the organisation’s director, Dana Golan, noted that female soldiers were no more

sensitive to the Palestinians than their male comrades. “We discovered that the girls try to be even more violent and brutal than the boys, just to become one of the guys,” she said.

ix years after the Here are just a few of the testimonies.

“A female combat soldier needs to prove more… when I arrived there was another female there with me… everyone spoke of how impressive she is because she humiliates Arabs without any

problem… You have to see her, the way she humiliates, the way she slaps them, wow, she really slapped that guy.” A seam line border guard spoke of what they did with Palestinians caught inside Israel. “There’s the well-known border guard song (in Arabic): ‘One hummus, one bean, I love the border guard’ — they would make them sing this. Sing, and jump… And if one of them would laugh… they would punch him. Why did you laugh? Smack… It could go on for hours, depending on how bored they are.” A soldier in Sachlav Military Police unit, stationed in Hebron, recalled soldiers taking revenge on a Palestinian child for throwing stones. “Two of our soldiers put him in a jeep and 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.”

A border guard said: “We caught a five-year-old… 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.”

A non-commissioned officer took her soldiers for a Sunday of culture — a show in Tel Aviv. When they got back to the Gaza Strip, they were appalled by the dissonance — one moment they’re clapping in a theatre, the next moment they’re acting like beasts.

“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.”

A soldier who served at the Erez checkpoint on the Gaza border said: “Many times the soldiers would open the Palestinians’ food.” And would they take it as well?

“Yes. They take things all the time at checkpoints in the territories. You’ll never see a soldier without musabaha (chickpea paste similar to hummus). And that is something they give many times… They are so desperate to pass that they even sort of bribe the soldiers a little…”

A Sachlav soldier in Hebron spoke of shooting toy guns at Palestinians. “Those plastic pellets really hurt… you’re sitting on guard and ‘tak,’ you fire at a kid, ‘tak,’ you fire at another kid.” Some soldiers were shocked by the violence of the Hebron settlers’

children. “They would throw stones at them… Because the one child is Jewish and the other is Palestinian, it’s somehow okay… And you also don’t really know which side you are on… I have to make a switch in my head and keep hating the Arabs and justify the Jews.”

The same soldier told of how she once spat on a Palestinian: “I don’t think he even did anything. But again, it was cool and it was the only thing I could do to… you know, I couldn’t brag that I caught a terrorist… But I could spit on them and degrade them and laugh at them.”

A border guard said that, despite clear orders to fire in the air or at demonstrators’ feet, it was common procedure to fire at the abdomen. Another from Jenin spoke of a nine-year-old Palestinian who tried to climb a fence, failed, and fled. “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.”

The four soldiers present then “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.”

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