"Breaking the Silence:" Women Soldiers Speak Out - by Stephen Lendman
"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 innocent."
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."