Israeli border guard kicks a Palestinian child, July 2012
Breaking the Silence is an organization of Israeli veterans who served during the Second Intifada from 2000, seeking to bring to light the routine of everyday life in the Occupied Territories. Since it was founded in 2004, the organisation has taken testimony from 800 soldiers.
In its latest booklet, Breaking the Silence publishes 47 accounts of the treatment of Palestinian children.
Unit: Nahal Brigade br>
Rank: First Sergeant br>
On your first arrest mission, you’re sure it’s a big deal, and it’s actually bullshit. You enter the Abu Sneina (Hebron) neighborhood and pick up three children. After that whole briefing, you’re there with your bulletproof vest and helmet and stuck with that ridiculous mission of separating women and children. It’s all taken so seriously and then what you end up with is a bunch of kids, you blindfold and shackle them and drive them to the police station at Givat Ha’avot. That’s it, it goes on for months and you eventually stop thinking there are any terrorists out there, you stop believing there’s an enemy, it’s always some children or adolescents or some doctor we took out. You never know their names, you never talk with them, they always cry, shit in their pants.
Was there a case of someone shitting in his pants?
I remember once. Always that crying. There are those annoying moments when you’re on an arrest mission, and there’s no room in the police station, so you just take the kid back with you to the army post, blindfold him, put him in a room and wait for the police to come pick him up in the morning. He sits there like a dog… We did try to be nice and find a mattress for them, some water, sometimes some food, and they’d sit there blindfolded and shackled, left like that until morning. Those were the instructions. That, or just to leave them in the war-room. That was also standard procedure. Until morning, until someone came to pick them up.
Unit: Combat Engineering Corps br>
Rank: First Sergeant br>
There was this incident where a ‘straw widow’ ambush in an urban area was put up following a riot at Qalandiya on a Friday, in an abandoned house near the square. Soldiers got out with army clubs and beat people to a pulp. Finally the children who remained on the ground were arrested. The order was to run, make people fall to the ground. There was a 10-12 man team, 4 soldiers lighting up the area. People were made to fall to the ground, and then the soldiers with the clubs would go over to them and beat them. A slow runner was beaten, that was the rule.
What does such a club look like?
It’s the simplest wooden club, straight, about 30 centimeters long. You stick it in back of your ceramic bullet proof vest, like the sword on a ‘Ninja-turtle,’ then you pull it out and pound it down.
You can kill a person.
We were told not to use it on people’s heads. I don’t remember where we were told to hit, but as soon as a person on the ground is beaten with such a club, it's difficult to be particular.
How many times did your platoon do this?
I don’t know, quite a few. Certainly 4-5 times. Perhaps with different kids.
What did the company commander expect?
That they would learn their lesson. I can only hope that the kids detained on the base or at the police station would not go back to throwing stones, but I can’t believe this was the effect.
Unit: Paratroopers Brigade br>
Rank: First Sergeant br>
When there’s a "disturbance of the peace" the unit commander is authorized to ask the battalion commander for permission to shoot the leader in the leg.
What is a leader?
These are kids. Everyone participating is a kid. No older than 16. At most, 18. Usually when we come in, they don’t go to school. We’re the attraction and they come out to 'play'. I even remember once we put on music for them through some cellular phone. We also got used to this. We were relatively sane, took things fairly in proportion. We’d get… cement blocks and crazy things thrown at our vehicle and you… at first you use some rubber ammo and then realize, it’s silly. Once... there’s this PA system we have (a sound system for addressing a large public), so we put on music from a cell phone and everyone started dancing.
Yes, it was huge. We put on music and suddenly they all stopped throwing stones and began to dance. It was eastern music so they were dancing with their hands. Then the song ended and they went on throwing stones. It was really serious. You realize who you’re dealing with here. These are kids. Chances are I’d do exactly as they do if I were in their shoes. There was a case of a unit commander who decided to shoot a guy in the leg because he runs the show, and it happened.
Yes. Live, not rubber. You know, from the point of view of the commander, they would have stopped throwing anyway.
When you begin getting hit with stones, you get out of the jeep?
You shoot the rubber ammo from inside the jeep?
You shoot through the loophole.
Where do you aim? Do you choose some kid at random?
Yes. Choose someone, aim at his body.
Center of mass.
10 meters range at the center of mass?
I remember one time we put a kid down. We didn’t kill him but someone hit the kid in the chest and he fell and probably lost consciousness, or at least, it was pretty close. About 10 meters.
Were you instructed as to how to use rubber ammo?
No. It’s like… There are rules. They tell you to shoot four. There’s this cluster of rubber bullets, pieces with four parts, packed in a kind of nylon. You can break it in two, so it’s stronger and flies further. As soon as it’s four it’s less strong and flies less far. We’d usually break it in half.
Is this something you were told to do? That if you want to achieve a longer range you break it in half?
No, we figured it out ourselves. It’s something that’s common knowledge in the army. People know about this. It’s not… When you use a weapon, you get to know it pretty well, I guess.
Just so you know, as soon as this pack is broken in half, it becomes lethal.
Really? Well, that’s what we did.
We did, too. As soon as the "tampons" are separated, they’re lethal. The nylon must not be removed.
We barely fired a whole cluster, I mean four. It’s like you want to save ammo, too.
Read full booklet....