Breaking the Silence: Children and Youth – Soldiers‘ Testimonies 2005 – 2011
This booklet is a compendium of testimonies given by over thirty IDF soldiers who served in the West Bank and in and around the Gaza Strip in the years 2005-2011.
Like previous publications by Breaking the Silence, it portrays daily events in the Occupied Territories. The testimonies in this anthology illuminate the realities of everyday life for Palestinian children and youth who live under Israeli occupation. Although the events described here took place after the peak of the Second Intifada, at a time perceived as calm and uneventful from a ‘security’ standpoint, the reality that emerges from the testimonies shows that harsh treatment of Palestinian children continues unabated, and despite the overall security situation.
Having served in different units and regions, the testifiers depict a routine in which Palestinian minors, often under 10 years of age, are treated in a manner that ignores their young age, and how, in practicality, they are perceived by both the soldiers and the military system at large as subject to the same treatment as adults.
This booklet reveals how physical violence is often exerted against children, whether in response to accusations of stone-throwing or, more often, arbitrarily (see Testimonies 3, 6, 14 and 36). Such violence is often accompanied by harassment and humiliation (1, 7, 39 and 46). Testimonies describe child arrests (2, 13, 33 and 35) and cruel and indifferent treatment of children in custody (8 and 25). Despite Israel’s High Court of Justice’s ruling that sweepingly forbade the use of human shields, soldiers speak of commanders who continue to implement this procedure, at times using children for this purpose (15 and 17).
The most disquieting tendency emerging from the soldiers’ testimonies relates to the wounding and killing of children in the West Bank and Gaza, whether by ignoring them at the scene of events, or by targeted shooting (see Testimonies 4, 9, 29 and 34).
Israeli children enjoy the protection of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, to which Israel is signatory, whereas Palestinian children grow up with no protection or ability to live protected as their Israeli peers do. Since these children are perceived by the Israeli military as adults, they are exposed to a harsh daily reality that includes constant friction with military forces active on the ground, arrests, violence, harassment and, at times, serious injury and even death. (www.breakingthesilence.org.il)
The dozens of testimonies contained in this booklet reveal the perspective of the Israeli soldiers on the ground, messengers of Israeli society, and serve as witness to the ongoing decline of the military system into increasing immorality. The words of the soldiers included here constitute an urgent call to Israeli society and its leaders: We must foster a serious discourse regarding the price of military rule of the Occupied Territories, the factors that enable this reality, and their drastic effect on the future of the region.
See also: The Guardian