Last Friday night, 15 minutes of the main evening news broadcast on Channel 12 – one of the programs with the highest viewer ratings in Israel – were dedicated to journalist Yigal Mosko’s report on the unbelievable reality of the South Hebron hills. The report covered several of the main issues we have been campaigning on for years: Palestinian children who need military protection in order to get to and from school every day because of the very real threat of being attacked by settlers; military training exercises taking place inside Palestinian villages; frequent demolitions of Palestinian homes and confiscation of their property; settler violence against Palestinians, while soldiers protect the attackers; and the presence and constant construction of more and more settler outposts – illegal even under Israeli law but connected to Israel’s water and electricity infrastructure.
None of this would be possible if it weren’t for the State of Israel’s complicity, and sometimes even its active encouragement. Children wouldn’t need to be accompanied to school by soldiers every day for the past 17 years if the law were enforced on their settler attackers in the first place. Homes wouldn’t have to be demolished if Israel’s Civil Administration weren’t to reject 97% of requests for permits by Palestinians. And of course, none of this would be the case if Israel weren’t to maintain a military regime in the territories for all of these years.
It’s been far too long since any of this was given the proper, prime-time attention it deserves, exposing the Israeli mainstream to some of the ugliest aspects of the occupation. But people outside of Israel need to be aware of this reality too.
At the start of this post we called this reality ‘unbelievable’ – because it’s so far away from any of the most basic norms that any of us would take for granted in a democratic country. You really need to see it to believe it. Take 15 minutes to watch the report, and once you’ve done so, download our new collection of soldiers’ testimonies on settler violence, many of which describe the exact same reality as shown in the report.
Breaking the Silence is an organization of veteran soldiers who have served in the Israeli military since the start of the Second Intifada and have taken it upon themselves to expose the Israeli public to the reality of everyday life in the Occupied Territories. We endeavor to stimulate public debate about the price paid for a reality in which young soldiers face a civilian population on a daily basis, and are engaged in the control of that population’s everyday life. Our work aims to bring an end to the occupation.