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39 Brave Steps by Israeli ex-Soldiers to Break the Silence

Tomorrow, the testimonials of 39 Israeli ex-soldiers, veterans of military duty in Hebron, are to be published by the Israeli NGO Breaking the Silence. They speak of how they and many other Israeli “youths” have been brutalised by performing or witnessing acts in an environment where “the proper-normative becomes despicable, the inconceivable becomes routine”, where the duty of the army is to protect extremist settlers whom many of the young soldiers regard as “evil”.

In today’s Independent, Donald MacIntyre interviews two soldiers, two of many who have now contacted Breaking the Silence to give them their testimonials.

The article refers to the 15 month imprisonment by an Israeli court this year of a young lieutenant called Yaakov Gigi, for taking 5 soldiers with him to hijack a Palestinian taxi, conduct a “rampage” including shooting and wounding an innocent Palestinian, and then trying to lie his way out of it. In a confessional interview to Israeli TV Channel Two, this one-time model soldier talked of “losing the human condition” in Hebron. Asked what he meant, he replied: “To lose the human condition is to become an animal.”

There is growing concern in Israel of the effects which this widespread “brutalisation” of their young men on military or border police service throughout the OPT is having on Israeli society when they return to civilian life.

For articles and videos, please visit www.shovrimshtika.org, the Breaking the Silence website.

Today’s Independent front page here

“Have Your Say” on the Indie article here: http://blogs.independent.co.uk/openhouse/2008/04/have-your-say-i.html

Also, see this Google video on life for Palestinians in Hebron by Simon David (also accessible via the Video links on this website).

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