''Breaking the Silence'': Former Soliders Criticizing Practices of the Israeli Military
"Breaking the Silence" is an initiative launched by veteran Israeli soldiers who want to draw attention to the situation in the Palestinian territories. They tell of violence against Palestinians, intimidation, a gradual increase in brutality and more. The "Breaking the Silence" exhibition started its tour of European capitals in Berlin and is open from 13–29 September 2012. All photos from Breaking the Silence.
"Breaking the Silence" shows private photos taken by Israeli soldiers in the occupied territories. Candid snapshots give an idea of the harassment Palestinians suffer on a daily basis and the stark reality of the soldiers' lives. The exhibition, curated by the Israeli NGO Breaking the Silence, opened on 13 September 2012 in Berlin as part of its tour of European capitals. The captions stem from soldiers' testimonies to the veterans' group.
"I think your judgement gets a little impaired. You don't look at him as a person standing in front of you, but as the enemy, and this is the word for him: enemy. He is not a dog, he is not some animal, you don't think of him as inferior, he simply doesn't count. Period."
"A soldier comes to him, detains him and searches him; his kids are there, his family. This is embarrassing for him. And there comes a point where you just don't care about anything anymore – an old person, a young one – you check them all …"
"We were in the Jewish neighbourhood, and Abu Sneina hill was in front of us. It was a permanent post, and it was from there that we shot the most. Each time there was a barrage, we tried to aim at certain buildings, and sometimes we fired with no specific targets. On the whole it was like this: one shot from their side, a bombardment from ours."
"This is an example of Palestinian car keys confiscated by Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) units - a popular procedure for punishing Palestinians in checkpoints or under curfew."
"You're always tired, you're always hungry, you always have to go to the bathroom, you're always scared to die, you're always eager to catch that terrorist. It's the experience of a hunted animal, a hunting animal, of an animal …"
"They themselves didn't go through a Holocaust, but I'm sure that some of them are from families that survived the Holocaust. If they're capable of writing on the Arab's doors 'Arabs Out' or 'Death to the Arabs,' and drawing a Star of David, which to me is like a swastika when they draw it like that, then somehow the term Jew has changed a little for me with regard to who's a Jew."
"A person could be detained for six hours with us at the post, or taken to another position, blindfolded, to sit there or clean up and stuff, for several hours. Really, things that place a person in total uncertainty about what will happen to him ..."
"A patrol on the main road in Hebron scared to death, wearing a bulletproof vest, a gear-vest, a helmet, and the rifle. And you just look in every direction so they don't surprise you ..."
"... And next to you on the road, at the scariest place on earth, the kids of Abraham Avinu [a Jewish neighbourhood] are playing."
"We arrested someone and took him to the base, and there was no one to admit him, because the guy in charge was absent, so everyone just fell asleep there in the sun. And the detainee is sitting in the sun, under guard. No one cared if he has what he needs."
"We set up a temporary road block. I took the orders very seriously when two women from Balata [a refugee camp near Nablus] arrived – at that time the camp was under closure. I asked the platoon commander what to do with them, and he told me to 'dry them up' for four hours at the checkpoint."