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Breaking the Silence, November 2010 Update
News
To our friends and supporters:

We are returning with a monthly update, where we will bring you recent news, campaigns we`ve been working on, an update on activities, a report on any changes we`ve seen on the ground, and a testimony we wish to highlight. We look forward to your involvement in tours and activities in the near future, and don`t hesitate to be in touch with questions or comments.

Also, we invite you to “Like” the new Breaking the Silence English page on Facebook. We are transferring all our Facebook activity to the new page from our current profile, which will become inactive in a few weeks. So join soon! Click here [http://www.facebook.com/pages/Breaking-the-Silence/163056727049912]
to access the new English page.


Highlights

BTS Testimonies Shed Light on the Killing of 21 Members of the Al-Samouni Family in Operation Cast Lead

Almost two years after the killing of 21 civilian members of the al-Samouni family in the Zeitoun neighborhood of the Gaza Strip, details surrounding the event are finally coming to light with the aid of testimonies from involved soldiers collected by Breaking the Silence. In two separate high-profile pieces published in Ha`aretz last weekend, Amira Hass, and Amos Harel and Anshel Pfeffer probe the incident and expose the roles played by permissive rules of engagement and a high-ranking military official. The story also received extensive international media coverage, including an article in The Independent. The details of the atrocity strongly reinforce the need to hold an independent and impartial investigation into the actions of the IDF during Operation Cast Lead.


New Batch of Pictures Showing Soldier Misconduct in Operation Cast Lead Released

On October 25, we released on our Facebook page a new batch of photos showing soldiers vandalizing private property, and posing with detainees and Palestinian civilians. The photos received both Israeli and international media attention. On the recent string of releases of such images, including those published by Eden Aberjil posing with detainees, and the video of Avi Yakobov dancing around a female detainee, BTS Co-Director Yehuda Shaul commented to the AFP, “It`s the norm in the Israeli military, and it`s a direct consequence of being in a place where you control and rule civilians on a daily basis.”


BTS Reaches the Shortlist for the European Parliament`s 2010 Sakharov Prize for Human Rights

We are proud to have been named one of three finalists for the Sakharov Prize this past month, awarded by the European Parliament to human rights defenders across the world, signaling the tremendous support and recognition for our work and mission. Co-chair of the Greens Dany Cohn-Bendit said, “In nominating ‘Breaking the Silence’, the Greens/EFA group wants to recognise the bravery of all the individuals involved who work to shed light on the injustices of the Israeli occupation and ensure Israeli society does not simply turn a blind eye. With this nomination, we want to highlight that, while Israel is a democracy, it nonetheless takes enormous courage to speak out and break through the taboos and prejudices surrounding the Israeli occupation.” Following campaigns against our nomination by NGO Monitor and others, nineteen prominent Israeli intellectual and cultural figures signed a letter endorsing our nomination. We would like to congratulate Cuban dissident Dr. Guillermo Fariñas on ultimately receiving the prize, and we extend our deep gratitude to our many supporters and friends in Israel and abroad who make our work possible.


Round-Up on Recent Activities

BTS Testifiers Host Mini-Photo Exhibit on Tel Aviv`s Rothschild Boulevard

On October 22, BTS activists and testifiers hosted a mini-photo exhibit on Rothschild Boulevard, a main thoroughfare of Tel Aviv, and were available to answer questions about the photos and Breaking the Silence, while distributing materials throughout the day. Hundreds of booklets of testimonies were handed out, and BTS members spoke to many potential testifiers and activists, and spread our message on the daily reality in the Territories. BTS members were again on hand at the Tel Aviv Rabin Memorial this past Saturday night to distribute materials. Pictures of the events have been posted on our Facebook page.


October Tour and Lecture Participants Include Prominent Diplomats, Diaspora Youth, and Israeli Youth Groups

As part of our ongoing work to raise awareness about the daily reality in the Territories, we continue to conduct tours and lectures to a variety of audiences on a daily basis. In October, participants of tours and lectures included the Deputy Ambassador of New Zealand, a member of the Swedish Parliament, the Israeli Board of the New Israel Fund, Young Judea Year Course, a local chapter of the major Israeli youth movement Hashomer Hatzair, and the Be`er Sheva chapter of the Israel Scouts.


Tours

South Hebron Hills

For the past year, Breaking the Silence has been conducting tours to the villages of South Mount Hebron. On these tours, visitors witness first hand the dire situation in the region. The tours also meet with a Palestinian family in the village of Susya.

The next tours to the South Hebron Hills (English) will take place on November 25th 2010.

To sign up, please contact: tours2hebron@gmail.com (Please indicate for which tour you would like to register and tell us a bit about where you come from, where you work/study, and how long you are in the country for.)

Tour leaves from Binyanei Hauma (across from Jerusalem Central Bus Station) at 8:30 and returns to Jerusalem at 14:30

Please bring a hat, snacks, plenty of water and 50 shekels to pay for the bus.


Hebron

The next tour to Hebron (English) will take place on November 5th 2010.

The tour includes a walking tour of the old city of Hebron (H2) and a visit to a Palestinian family in Tel Rumeida.

Tour leaves from Binyanei Hauma (across from Jerusalem Central Bus Station) at 8:30 and returns to Jerusalem at 14:30

Please bring a hat, snacks, plenty of water, and 50 shekels to pay for the bus.

To sign up, please contact: tours2hebron@gmail.com (Please indicate for which tour you would like to register and tell us a bit about where you come from, where you work/study, and how long you are in the country fo


Testimony
Name: ****
Unit: Lavi
Location: Yatta

In September 2002, I entered the Hebron suburb of Yatta with my company in order to arrest one of the most wanted senior militants in the area at the time. After we arrested the guy, we gathered in center of the town—some tens of soldiers along with about eight members of the militant Tanzim cell, all of them bound and blindfolded. The battalion commander oversaw the operation and when he noticed that the head of the cell was sitting on a staircase, he sent one of his officers to gather thistles to make his seat uncomfortable. After, the commander punched him. From here, the rest is well-known. Being good, trigger-happy soldiers, and wanting to implement the “spirit of the commander,” we kicked and slapped the handcuffed head militant and the others. Ah, yes, and we also photographed ourselves with them, in Yatta, in the armored truck on the way to the base, and at the entrance gate to the compound. And this is the phenomenon that is shocking the world—the souvenirs?!

By the way, I was drafted only eight months before that night in Yatta. The commander of my company, who at the time was perceived by me and my fellow young soldiers as nothing less than a demi-god, distributed amongst the platoons pictures of Palestinians who were killed by the unit that our commander came from. The idea behind this grotesque exhibition was to rile us up, and to clarify the essence of an ideal combatant—to kill a terrorist. The message was received—if a mountain climber strives to plant his flag on a snowy peak, we wanted to land a bullet in the head of a terrorist. And if the mountain climber wouldn’t settle without a proud picture at the peak of the mountain, we wanted the same thing, just in our line of work.



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Links to the latest articles in this section

Israelis & Palestinians Negotiate Solutions to the Gaza Crisis
A war to keep Netanyahu on his throne
Back Home in U.S., Israel’s Lone Soldiers Break Their Silence About the Occupation