ISBN 9780805095371.

Jørgen Jensehaugen

Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU)

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The Israeli NGO, Breaking the Silence, has collected a total of 145 testimonies from Israeli Defense Force (IDF) soldiers who served in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPTs) in the time period 2000–2010. The testimonies have been divided according to four thematic categories: Prevention, Separation, The Fabric of Life, and Law Enforcement. Each of these sections is introduced by a short commentary by the editors. The categories have been chosen to point out that the rhetoric used to defend the IDF’s actions in the OPTs is often mere rhetoric. In the ‘prevention’ section, for instance, the testimonies reveal that the term ‘prevention’ is often used to defend offensive actions. The testimonies cover a variety of actions, ranging in seriousness from implementing closures with an unclear purpose to gross human rights violations, such as the sniper who killed an unarmed Palestinian whose only crime was being on a rooftop at the wrong time. The personalities of the testifying soldiers also vary greatly. Some describe themselves as the ‘good’ exceptions in ‘bad’ units, while others look back at their own behavior with regret. In sum, the testimonies reveal a systematic disregard for the human dignity of Palestinians. By publishing this volume Breaking the Silence has completed an important task. For the international community it is decisive to understand what takes place on the ground in the OPTs, but more importantly, it is vital for Israeli society to have an open and informed discussion on what the soldiers are doing during their service in the OPTs.