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Settler violence against Palestinians in the occupied territories isn't just throwing stones and burning fields (although there's plenty of that). It also means making it near impossible for Palestinians to access their land. In the context of a military regime, whereby the people with the power to make the decisions are soldiers on the ground, this can be detrimental to Palestinian livelihoods. This testimony demonstrates exactly what that looks like in practice. Read the full testimony here: https://bit.ly/31vlDhL
Last Friday night, 15 minutes of the main evening news broadcast on Channel 12 - one of the programs with the highest viewer ratings in Israel - were dedicated to journalist Yigal Mosko's report on the unbelievable reality of the South Hebron hills. The report covered several of the main issues we have been campaigning on for years: Palestinian children who need military protection in order to get to and from school every day because of the very real threat of being attacked by settlers; military training exercises taking place inside Palestinian villages; frequent demolitions of Palestinian homes and confiscation of their property; settler violence against Palestinians, while soldiers protect the attackers; and the presence and constant construction of more and more settler outposts - illegal even under Israeli law but connected to Israel's water and electricity infrastructure. None of this would be possible if it weren't for the State of Israel's complicity, and sometimes even its active encouragement. Children wouldn't need to be accompanied to school by soldiers every day for the past 17 years if the law were enforced on their settler attackers in the first place. Homes wouldn't have to be demolished if Israel's Civil Administration weren't to reject 97% of requests for permits by Palestinians. And of course, none of this would be the case if Israel weren't to maintain a military regime in the territories for all of these years. It's been far too long since any of this was given the proper, prime-time attention it deserves, exposing the Israeli mainstream to some of the ugliest aspects of the occupation. But people outside of Israel need to be aware of this reality too. At the start of this post we called this reality 'unbelievable' - because it's so far away from any of the most basic norms that any of us would take for granted in a democratic country. You really need to see it to believe it. Take 15 minutes to watch the report, and once you've done so, download our new collection of soldiers' testimonies on settler violence, many of which describe the exact same reality as shown in the report. Links to the news report (with subtitles) and to the booklet in the comments.
"Ideally, a soldier isn’t supposed to have an emotional connection, either with the Palestinians or with the Jews who are there (in Hebron). He comes to do a job that really needs separation in order to do it well. In practice, the feeling is that we’re coming to live with them (the Hebron settlers) for six months. Do you understand? Like, we eat at their houses, and we do Kabbalat Shabbat (a Jewish prayer service held on Friday night). And why does this happen? Like, why? [Because] in the end, who are you going to want to protect? Is the Arab, who you feel – [because of] the demonization – is the reason your life is shit, the one who should be protected? Which is surreal of course, because the situation [is] that because the Jews decided to live there, you’re there. But no. This Arab who’s walking on the street – you have to guard because of him. Are you going to want to protect him, according to your principles, or a person you had Friday night dinner with a second ago? And this person might just be creating a provocation to irritate Arabs, so that [soldiers] come and there’s going to be chaos because of it. But you’ve had Friday night dinner with him, you know him by name. Like, there are 800 people (settlers) there, there are about ten very prominent people there that everyone knows. Like, you know him by name, you had dinner with him two days ago. Who are you going to protect? Even if he’s doing the worst thing in the world, you won’t even know it’s a terrible thing and that’s really the issue." - Sergeant, Nahal 50th Battalion, Hebron, 2016. ___ Read more testimonies from our new testimony collection booklet on settler violence here: https://bit.ly/3BtshpQ