Testimony - 'Everything's fine'
|Location:||Hebron, West Bank|
A former Israeli soldier provides a testimony to Breaking the Silence in which he describes how his commanding officer beat a child for refusing to pass through an x-ray machine at a checkpoint.
Soldier: “The company commander’s front group jeep … People were saying all the time that they beat Arabs for fun. Beatings happen all the time, but there was one episode that turned into my own 'main event’ while I was out there … One day we were alerted. The PA system (a sound system for addressing a large public) announced: 'Front command group to the jeep.’ We all jumped to our feet, began gearing up, me and the medic, we prepared everything and the company commander opened the door of his office, come out and said: 'Get lost. Only *** and I are going.’ He told me to take off my gear and come as I was. He was without a bulletproof vest or anything. Just a uniform and gun. We drove to the 'Pharmacy’ Checkpoint. There were two, three kids out there who would not go through the x-ray machine. We stopped the jeep, he got off, took a boy to the alley.”
Interviewer: “One of the kids who refused?”
Soldier: “Yes. Then he simply went ahead and did it.”
Interviewer: “What did he do?”
Soldier: “First of all he faced the kid, who was this close to the wall. He looked at him for a second, then held him like this, pushed him with his elbow, choking him against the wall. The kid went totally wild, the commander kept screaming at him in Hebrew, not in Arabic. Then he let go, the kid lifted his hands to wipe off his tears, and the commander goes boom at the kid, who lowers his hands to stop wiping his tears, keeping them at his sides. Then the slaps came, more and more slaps … This was a second phase of hitting and yelling. Then the kid began to really scream, it was frightening, and locals began to gather around the checkpoint, peek into the alley. I remember the commander coming out of the alley and telling them: 'Everything’s fine.’ He yelled at the kid: 'Stay right here, don’t go anyway1’ and went out to tell them everything was okay. He called the squad commander at the checkpoint, stood facing the kid and said: 'This is how they should be treated,’ gave the kid another two slaps and let him go. It’s an insane story. I remember sitting in the vehicle, looking on and thinking: I’ve been waiting for this situation for 3 years, from the moment I enlisted, I joined the army to stop such things and here I am, not doing a thing, choosing not to do anything. Am I fine with this? I remember answering myself: 'Yes, I’m fine with this. He’s beating an Arab and I’m doing nothing about it. I was conscious of not doing anything because I was really afraid of that company commander. What? Should I jump off the jeep and say to him: 'Stop, it’s stupid what you’re doing?’”
Interviewer: “How old was the kid?”
Soldier: “A teenager. Under 18. Really – 13, 14, 15 years old.”
Interviewer: “And how long did this last?”
Soldier: “Something like 10 minutes of hitting, and then the officer got back in the jeep and left.”