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Home » Soldiers »

Testimony - "They were Arabs and as far as I was concerned they lost all human form."


Name: Anonymous
Rank: Lieutenant
Unit: Artillery Corps
Location: Harmala, West Bank
Date: 2015

An Israeli soldier provides a testimony to Breaking the Silence explaining why he chose to speak out. "I was in such a situation that corrupted me to a degree which after some time Palestinians didn׳t really have human faces."

Soldier: "Once a [female] dog handler joined us from Oketz (canine special forces) for an arrest in the village of Harmala, opposite Jewish Tekoa, opposite the settlement. We went into the house with the dog handler and I believe it [belonged to] a man of about 40, with a wife and three kids, six years old tops, I think. We began with the dog handler's scan, it was the first time I worked with that kind of dog."
Interviewer: "What dog was it?"
Soldier: "A dog that looks for weaponry and explosives and such. Actually, the way the scan was carried out was that she leads the dog into the house, and really goes over every centimeter with him, and if he sits or something like that, it means that he identified something. So we went through the parents' room at first, and then the living room thereafter, and then we reached the children's room, a room that really reminded me of my little brother's room, with Lion King wallpaper and SpongeBob dolls, just like any other kid. We wanted to do a very thorough search and the dog handler, too, explained to us that if now the dog identifies something in some area, then our search there should be very, very meticulous, too. We reached the level of taking everything out of the closet and peeled off some of the wallpaper, removed some of the wall-to-wall carpeting from one area, we turned the bed upside down, everything there was left a complete mess, and when we took the father out, his wife was left behind alone in the ruins, in the completely messed-up home, with three little kids, sitting on the sofa, hugging them, and they’re all crying. It was a very powerful situation. In the end, by the way, we didn't succeed in finding anything there; the only thing we found was a photo of Yahya Ayyash from Gaza."
Interviewer: "The engineer."
Soldier: "The engineer, yes, we were pleased because we managed to prove a connection to Hamas."
Interviewer: "Just a photo of his hung on the wall?"
Soldier: "Yes, a small photo, in a sort of golden frame."
Interviewer: "And the room that reminded you of your brother's, the one that was completely upside down when you finished with it, how did you feel that moment?
Soldier: "I felt terrible about the room, but you become sort of numb to the whole situation, I mean, it didn't happen much that I would stop for a moment and really think now: hey, how would I feel if I were them, and that room reminds me of my kid brother's room, because that's probably something that happens subconsciously. It's some sort of process in which Palestinians lose their humanity in certain situations, as far as I'm concerned. It really hurts me to say these things because I do see myself as a humane person and all, but I think that this situation and the place I was in there, [is] something that corrupts, really corrupts the soul.
A few weeks after arriving in Judea and Samaria, I believe, it was already clear to me that after being discharged I would break the silence, due to the moral conflict I experienced there. On the one hand, as a commander in the army, and yes, as someone who loves the State and believes in the legitimacy of the army. And on the other hand, all the things I carried out — let alone led — in Judea and Samaria, whether it was mappings, arrests, check posts, riots, etc. Things that I was opposed to morally, and that I have a feeling – especially when I think of my home or my family, or just in general – that most people have no idea what's going on there, they don't have a clue. I consider myself a person with worldviews that are a bit contrary and opposed to these things, but like, the very fact that I was in such a situation that corrupted me to a degree which after some time Palestinians didn't really have human faces. They were Arabs, and as far as I was concerned, [they] lost all human form. I think that's one of the main problems of the occupation, and I think that's an excellent reason for those who took part in it to break the silence so that people will really know where they're sending their children."