Breaking the Silence is an organization of veteran Israeli soldiers. They have served in the IDF since the start of the Second Intifada (2000) and claim to expose the Israeli public to the reality of everyday life in the Occupied Territories. They want to stimulate public debate about young soldiers facing a civilian population on a daily basis, and are engaged in the control of that population’s everyday life.
They have published a book of soldiers’ testimonies from the years 2001-2010 of which you can read excerpts at 972Mag.com. This week they have launched a week of video testimonies from female IDF soldiers.
It is an interesting campaign as it reveals the voice of women in the Israeli army. They have mostly male superiors and are regarded by some to be less suitable as soldiers because they cannot serve in all of the combat units. Besides being part of an oppressive tool of the Israeli state, they are therefore also subjected to inequalities within the Israeli society and army.
According to their press release:
These testimonies seek to tell the Israeli public and international community what it means to be a woman serving in the territories. In order to prove oneself as a woman soldier, one needs to be “more manly than a man”. Often, for female soldiers to become “one of the guys,” it means that they must use violence and show force in their everyday tasks. The testimonies paint a difficult picture, whereby whoever isn’t willing to be violent and abusive finds herself socially ostracized. As female soldiers in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT), we also had to beat, detain, humiliate and intimidate Palestinians. We weren’t supposed to tell our families and friends what we did and what it means to serve in the territories.
As women, exposing our identities through these testimonies is especially complex and difficult. We have less legitimacy to talk about what is happening in the OPT and our involvement in implementing the occupation.
This is an opportunity to have our voices heard both as soldiers and women, and to take part in opposing the Israeli control over Palestinians. This is also an opportunity for us to face up to our actions and take responsibility for them.
We hope that our choice to testify and speak publicly will encourage other women who served in the OPT to join us and speak openly about their military service.
You can watch several testimonies here:
Gil Hillel explains why she chose to testify to Breaking the Silence:
Inbar gives a testimony about humiliation of Palestinians at a checkpoint:
Tal Wasser gives a testimony about checkpoint routine
Watch more testimonies HERE.