As long as occupation exists, soldiers will continue to speak out

Palestinians clash with Israeli soldiers in Al-Fawwar refugee camp, south of the West Bank city of Hebron, Dec 31, 2017. (photo: Wisam Hashlamoun / Flash90)

We must make our voices heard sharply and clearly — speaking out is not merely an option, it is a moral duty.

By Avner Gvaryahu | +972 Blog | Jan 26, 2018

It [is] important to remind the Israeli public why soldiers continue to break their silence. After all, the central reason for breaking the silence is the occupation. As long as there is an occupation, there will be those who choose to expose what the government is trying so hard to hide.

Like many who served alongside me, I preferred to remain silent. I preferred to forget, not to speak about the Palestinian homes I broke into in the middle of the night, forgetting the violence I carried out at checkpoints and the passivity required of me when settlers freely broke the law. When I was released from the army, I preferred to repress those three years, to put them behind me.

Only after I joined a Breaking the Silence tour to the South Hebron Hills did my eyes open. Only then, I chose to speak. That is how I learned that I wasn’t alone. I learned there are others like me — soldiers who see the situation the same way and choose to take responsibility and change the way they and their society, our society, talk about the occupation.

This is what occupation sounds like: “Make sure the village doesn’t sleep.” “A man is tied up and kicked in the the stomach and the head.” “A death sentence for an unarmed man.” “Every kid you see with a stone — shoot to kill.” “You can do whatever you want, no one is going to ask anything.” “In practice you simply abuse the population.” All of these are random titles of Breaking the Silence’s testimonies. Little moments in a years-long occupation.

Then there are those who prefer to silence others.

The past two years have seen constant attempts by the Israeli government to silence anyone who opposes the occupation, sending a clear message: “You are not to discuss what goes on there.” Whoever dares speak up is branded and blacklisted, while the government’s delegitimization campaign is getting more and more outrageous. But I’m not willing to stay silent. Together with the 1,100 soldiers — men and women who have broken their silence — we insist that our voice be heard. We must make our voices heard sharply and clearly, so that every person who served in the occupied territories will know that speaking out is not merely an option — it is a moral duty.

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