Breaking the Silence


Israeli Soldiers Fess Up

By David Kattenburg

Physical and psychological abuse, assassination, bribery, destruction of property, the use of children as human shields, looting … These are among the acts former Israeli soldiers describe to Israeli NGO Breaking the Silence in the course of interviews about their service in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

Of course, they do so in exchange for anonymity. The Israeli government would like to penetrate this shield. At a May 22 court hearing, Israeli government lawyers argued that Breaking the Silence should reveal the names of ex-soldiers who described what they did and saw in the course of their service in the 2004 Gaza war — actions that may amount to war crimes. Breaking the Silence and other human rights organizations argue that journalistic freedom and the very soul of the nation are are at stake.


A sizeable portion of the Israeli public disagree. The Israeli Defense Forces are among the most venerated of Israeli institutions, and Breaking the Silence is beyond the pale — even traitorous — to besmirch their name, many feel. Those who do believe the IDF should be held accountable for alleged crimes its soldiers commit in the course of enforcing Israel’s fifty-year occupation are following this court case closely.

Yehuda Shaul is a co-founder of Breaking the Silence. Listen to him here.

Soldiers practice target shooting in occupied Hebron (David Kattenburg)

Soldiers practice target shooting in occupied Hebron (David Kattenburg)