April 19, 2008

Israeli soldiers abducting, beating, torturing, stunning, bombing, shooting, oh, and crying, of course

Shooting and crying, from the belly of the beast. Here's a report from Donald Macintyre in today's Independent:
The dark-haired 22-year-old in black T-shirt, blue jeans and red Crocs is understandably hesitant as he sits at a picnic table in the incongruous setting of a beauty spot somewhere in Israel. We know his name and if we used it he would face a criminal investigation and a probable prison sentence.

The birds are singing as he describes in detail some of what he did and saw others do as an enlisted soldier in Hebron. And they are certainly criminal: the incidents in which Palestinian vehicles are stopped for no good reason, the windows smashed and the occupants beaten up for talking back – for saying, for example, they are on the way to hospital; the theft of tobacco from a Palestinian shopkeeper who is then beaten "to a pulp" when he complains; the throwing of stun grenades through the windows of mosques as people prayed. And worse.

The young man left the army only at the end of last year, and his decision to speak is part of a concerted effort to expose the moral price paid by young Israeli conscripts in what is probably the most problematic posting there is in the occupied territories. Not least because Hebron is the only Palestinian city whose centre is directly controlled by the military, 24/7, to protect the notably hardline Jewish settlers there. He says firmly that he now regrets what repeatedly took place during his tour of duty.

Now, I find this quite disturbing. Not what the soldiers do. I've known that for years, we all have. But this "Breaking the silence" has been around for years. I posted on it back in September 2005. What have they achieved since then? What have I achieved since then? Obviously, doing the right thing even if it doesn't achieve anything is still doing the right thing, but why do these soldiers cry after they shoot? And why so publicly? Did you see Macintyre's reference to "the moral price paid young Israeli conscripts". You see it worries me that some of these projects are a devious or insidious form of hasbara. We kill but we cry. We are civilised. Don't kill then you won't have to cry. If you have to cry, cry before you shoot....or abduct, or beat or torture.


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