Breaking the Silence is a group which collects secret testimonies from former soldiers to try to enlighten the Israeli public as to the true nature of the army’s activities in the West Bank and Gaza.
This week it took testimonies from soldiers who served in previous Israeli operations in the region.
They do not include anything from the ongoing conflict in Gaza.
Staff Sgt Shai Davidovich
Field intelligence, 2012, Northern Gaza Strip
We were positioned east of Beit Hanoun. People are walking around in the streets with lots of children hanging about.
I see kids on bicycles in a street where shells are falling and the children run around free.
Our mission was to shoot at sources of fire. You see houses but it’s very difficult to detect a target. You can’t be precise – you can’t really aim.
Captain Oded Kimron
Shaldag airforce commandos, 2004, Rafah
On the first day we shot no one; we actually did nothing, while from time to time – every one or two hours – a message from the commander arrived:
‘What’s going on guys? Why have you not started killing yet? What’s going on there?’
All around us there was destruction on a scale I had not seen before – of houses, greenhouses, and roads.
Everything there just became a bunch of sand dunes. All the while, I am repeatedly asked by the force commander:
‘Why aren’t you shooting? What is going on? Why aren’t you killing anybody?’ Non-stop pressure.
Sgt Major Amir Marmor
Armoured Corps, 2008-09, Gaza Strip
We began a week of practice on the ground, during which we talked with the officers commanding the operation.
Considerations we were accustomed to hearing in briefings, like rules of engagement and attempts not to hurt innocents and the like, were not made this time.
On the contrary, the attitude was, war is war. A vehicle that’s in the way – crush it. A building in the way – shell it. This was the spirit of things repeated throughout the training.
Artillery unit, 2008-09, Gaza Strip
The problem with artillery fighting in an urban area is that one tries to be as precise as possible, but there are a million parameters at play.
If you don’t check the weight [of the shell], you can have a 200-300m difference in range that may end up hitting a school instead of the target.