Israeli Veterans Break Their Silence on Life in the Occupied Territories

In 2001, when I was 18, I joined the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) to undertake my three years of military service. There was nothing unconventional about me. I was born in West Jerusalem, a practicing Orthodox Jew in a family that leaned to the right. My cousins were settlers; I attended a Yeshiva (a religious high school) in a settlement in the West Bank; my sister is a settler today.

But by the time I was finishing my life as a combat soldier—as a company sergeant in the infantry—I was questioning most of the military actions I had taken part in. The day I stopped thinking like a soldier I looked in the mirror and saw a different person. And it was terrifying.

Soldiers are consumed with their orders and missions, and the overwhelming priority is to protect the comrades they are serving alongside. I spent two years in the West Bank, more than half the time in Hebron, the largest Palestinian city in the region.

When I started planning what I wanted to do after I left the army, the reflexes I developed as a soldier were weakened ..

- Read more: Israeli Veterans Break Their Silence on Life in the Occupied Territories – Yehuda Shaul, Open Society Foundation

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