“Breaking the Silence:” Women Soldiers Speak Out

by Stephen Lendman

February 12, 2010

"Breaking the Silence is an organization of veteran Israeli soldiers
that collects anonymous testimonies of soldiers who served in the
Occupied Territories during the Second Intifada." They recount
experiences that deeply affected them, including abusing Palestinians,
looting, destroying property, and other practices "excused as military
necessities, or explained as extreme and unique cases."

They disagree in describing "the depth of corruption which is spreading
in the Israeli military" to which its society and most Western
observers turn a blind eye. Since 2004, "Breaking the Silence"
collected over 650 testimonies, including from combat veterans. Most
remain anonymous to avoid recriminations, but feel compelled to go
public – to "demand accountability regarding Israel’s military actions
in the Occupied Territories perpetrated by us in our name."

Last year, a collection of 54 damning testimonies from 30 Israeli
soldiers was published. On January 31, a new publication was released
titled, "Breaking the Silence: Women Soldiers’ Testimonies," a
collection of 96 stories from dozens of women who served in the
Territories since 2000.

On January 29, Israel’s ynetnews.com reported that "Female soldiers
break their silence," revealing accounts of "systematic humiliation of
Palestinians, reckless and cruel violence, theft, killing of innocent
people and cover-up."

On July 15, 2009, Reuters reported that participating IDF soldiers in
the recent Gaza conflict said "they were urged by commanders to shoot
first and worry later about sorting out civilians from combatants.
Accordingly, they (said, they) went into Gaza with guns blazing," with
comments like the following typical of others:

— "If you’re not sure, kill;"

— "Better hit an innocent than hesitate to target an enemy;"

— "In urban warfare, anyone is your enemy; no innocents;" and

— "They kept repeating to us that this is war and in war opening fire
is not restricted….There was a clear feeling, and this was repeated
whenever others spoke to us, that no humanitarian consideration played
any role in the army at present."

In his book titled, "The ‘Good Soldier’ on Trial: A Sociological Study
of Misconduct by the US Military Pertaining to Operation Iron Triangle,
Iraq," Professor Stjepan Mestrovic documented disturbing evidence of
illegal US rules of engagement (ROE); namely, that commanders order
troops to commit war crimes, citing an Army brigade colonel saying kill
every military-aged Iraqi on sight, even civilians posing no threat.

Yet when the truth comes out, low-ranking soldiers are blamed,
prosecuted, and punished to absolve superiors up the chain of command
to the top. Mestrovic correctly observed "that a crime becomes a ‘war
crime’ when it involves the government, which is to say, when a crime
is the result of unlawful social policies and plans."

According to noted sociologist Emile Durkheim, "The immorality of war
depends entirely on the leaders who willed it – the soldier and even
those government officials who had no part in the decision remain

It’s true in America, Israel and all sides in times of war.

Anonymous Testimonies of Female Combatants

Like their male counterparts, courageous female soldiers went public,
"shed(ding) additional light on what happens in the back yard of the
State of Israel," that what once was "exceptional," is now the norm. As
a result, Israeli society is sliding down "an ethical slope together
with the entire military system."                                      More………………………….

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