Israel’s Torture : The one who makes people talk

by Dalia Karpel

October 15, 2007

“We – Israeli soldiers – were put there to punish the Palestinians,” says Ilan Vilenda, an Israeli soldier who served in Rafah during the first Intifada.

Ilan is the only soldier of 21 who agreed to have his name published, after he was interviewed by psychologist Nofer Ishai-Karen.

The soldiers spoke freely to Nofer, who served with them in the same ASHBAL platoon 20 years ago; they are disclosing their innermost emotions about the horrendous crimes in which they took part: murder, breaking bones of Palestinian children, actions of humiliation, destruction of property, robbery and theft.

Soldier “A” testimony: “We decided to turn an old shower in our base [in]to a make-shift detention cell. A Palestinian was brought there, handcuffed and mouth banded so he couldn’t talk, or move. We forgot him there for three days…”

Soldier “B” testimony: “I was on my first patrol. Others simply shot like mad. I started to shoot as they did. They ‘set me on.’ I took my weapon and shot. Nobody was there to tell me otherwise.”

Psychologist Ishai-Karen was shocked to find that the soldiers enjoyed the ‘intoxication of power’, and had pleasure from using violence. She said: “Most of my interviewees enjoyed their own instigated violence during their Occupation service.”

Soldier “C” testimony: “The truth is that I love this mess – I enjoy it. It is like being on drugs. If I didn’t enter Rafah, to put down some rebellion – at least once a week – I’d go berserk.”

Soldier “D” testimony: “What is great is that you don’t have to follow any law or rule. You feel that YOU ARE THE LAW; you decide. Once you go into the Occupied Territories YOU ARE GOD”.

Emotional dumbness

Soldier “E” testimony: “We drove an APC through Rafah. A man of 25 walked nearby. He didn’t hurl a stone at us or anything. Then without any reason “X” shot him in the stomach. We left him lying on the sidewalk.”

Soldier “F” testimony: “Some ‘tough guys’ developed it into ‘an ideology’, according to which we have to react brutally even for minor events. A woman threw a sandal at me. I kicked her with my foot at her crotch. I broke her. She can’t have children any longer. Next time she won’t throw sandals at me… and when another woman spat at me she got the butt of my gun in her face. She can’t spit now.”

Soldier “G” described his first forced entry to a home to detain a Palestinian: “He was real big, some 30 years old. He refused detention. We hit him but couldn’t force him down. Some people came hurling stones at us. We beat him and told him to lie down. Till he finally did. We drove to the base with him. By that time he had lost consciousness. He died some days later.”

Nofer Ishai-Karen: “Some NCOs encouraged the soldiers to behave brutally, and provided their own example.

Soldier “H” testimony: “After two months in Rafah a new NCO commander arrived. The first patrol, which he commanded, was at 06 hours. Rafah was under curfew. Not a soul was on the street.

Then he saw a young boy, of about 4, playing in the sand in the courtyard of his home. The kid was building a castle in the sand. Suddenly the NCO, a guy from the Engineers Corps, ran to chase the kid. We followed.

“He captured the kid and broke his elbow. Broke the kid’s elbow! Damn me if I’m not telling the truth! Then the NCO treaded on the kid’s stomach three times, before he moved on. We couldn’t believe our eyes… But the next day we went on patrol with that guy and the soldiers started to imitate him…”

What happened then? Some guys couldn’t stomach it. The case of severe abuse of three young adolescents, who were bounded hand and foot by a staff sergeant, got them to alert a senior officer.

“When the medic arrived the boys were bleeding all over, their clothes were soaked with blood, and they were shivering from fear. They were made to kneel like dogs and were afraid to move.”

The NCO was punished by 3 months detention. But the platoon commander backed the NCO and reprimanded the conscientious soldiers for ‘defaming the platoon’.”

Nofer Ishai-Karen: The sacred value in the [Israeli] Army is “fighters’ solidarity”, i.e., loyalty towards your fellow combatants. The platoons protected its secrets, as a family defends its ‘black sheep’. The fellows regard as “traitors” the conscientious soldiers, says Nofer Ishai-Karen. The cover-up was complete when our ‘good guy’ was excommunicated and ostracized by the entire platoon. And the NCO? He left the country, and now lives in the U.S.A. The majority of the soldiers of these platoons had left Israel. Only five or six remain in Israel.

Nofer studied two platoons ESHBAL and ESHKHAR, the last was more extremely violent, she says.

Finally back to Ilan Vilenda, the only soldier who allowed Nofer to use his full name and even be photographed. Vilenda was a staff sergeant in charge of ‘operations’.

Ilan Vilenda’s testimony: “Our job was to beat them… I personally hit a boy and another. I used my hands or the truncheon. We beat more severely [Palestinian] adults. We acted like policemen but we acted outside the law. There was this Palestinian who had a TV at home. The World Cup in Soccer was on, and we used to invade his privacy to watch the games. After a while he had enough, and asked us take the TV set and move.

“I was born on a Kibbutz, to a family whose values were humane ‘Zionist left wing’. The Palestinians threw tons of stones at us. Whereas at the beginning my ideological commitment restrained my actions, my anger accumulated, and I released it violently. It was meant to be. We were there to make them [Palestinians] pay. My political views changed too. I now support the extreme-right-religious National-Religious Party.”

After his release from the army, Vilenda and 5 other Israelis were arrested in Goa, India for possession of LSD.

“I wanted to serve my country. This was my task… but the entire IDF is executing illegal-orders.”

Who is responsible?

General Matan Vilna’i [now serving under Ehud Barak as vice Minister of Defense] was at the time [during the First Intifada] Chief of the IDF Southern Command.

“He often visited our platoon and discussed with soldiers,” says Nofer. “But…there you go… the ‘Instruments of Denial and Concealment’ went to work…”

Besides, the Israeli Army didn’t provide the unit with regular training, nor were the soldiers given regular leaves, or provided with free time to recuperate and recover. The interviewed soldiers maintained that the longer they operated [against the Palestinians in Rafah] without leave, the more violent they became in imposing their kind of ‘Law and Order’. They claimed: read more

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4 responses to “Israel’s Torture : The one who makes people talk

  1. 1. Israel became a state circa 1030 B.C., more than two millennia before Islam.

    2. Arabs from Israel first began to be called “Palestinians” in 1967 by Yasser Arafat and other Arab leaders, two decades after modern Israeli statehood.

    3. After conquering the land in about 1250 B.C., Jews ruled it for more than 1,300 years and have maintained a continuous presence there for 3,300 years.

    4. For over 3,000 years, Jerusalem was the Jewish capital. It was never the capital of any Arab or Muslim entity. Even under Jordanian rule, (East) Jerusalem was not made the capital, and no Arab leader came to visit it.

    5. Jerusalem is mentioned over 700 times in the Bible, but not once is it mentioned in the Qur’an.

    6. King David founded Jerusalem; Mohammed never set foot in it.

    7. Jews pray facing Jerusalem; Muslims face Mecca. If they are between the two cities, Muslims pray facing Mecca, with their backs to Jerusalem.

    8. In 1948, Arab leaders urged their people to leave, promising to cleanse the land of Jewish presence—some 70% of them fled without ever being ordered by Israel to leave, most of those without ever having seen an Israeli soldier.

    9. Virtually the entire Jewish population of Muslim countries had to flee as the result of violence and pogroms.

    10. Some 650,000 Arabs left Israel in 1948, while about 850,000 Jews were forced to leave Muslim countries.

    11. In spite of the vast territories at their disposal, Arab refugees from Palestine were deliberately prevented from assimilating into their host countries. Of 100 million refugees following World War II, they are the only group to have never integrated with their coreligionists. Most of the Jewish refugees from Europe and Arab lands were settled in Israel, a country no larger than New Jersey.

    12. There are 22 Arab countries (with 800 times the land mass of Israel), not counting the Palestinian territories. There is only one Jewish state. Arabs started all five wars against Israel, and lost every one of them.

    13. The Fatah and Hamas constitutions still call for the destruction of Israel. Israel has agreed under several proposals to cede most of the West Bank and all of Gaza to the Palestinian Authority, and even supported the arming of its police force after the Oslo Accords in 1993.

    14. During the Jordanian occupation, Jewish holy sites were vandalized and were off limits to Jews. Under Israeli rule, all Muslim and Christian holy sites are accessible to all faiths and maintained in good order at Israel’s expense.

    15. Out of 175 United Nations Security Council resolutions up to 1990, 97 were against Israel; out of 690 General Assembly resolutions, 429 were against Israel;

    16. The U.N. was silent when the Jordanians destroyed 58 synagogues in the old city of Jerusalem. It remained silent while Jordan systematically desecrated the ancient Jewish cemetery on the Mount of Olives, and it remained silent when Jordan enforced apartheid laws preventing Jews from accessing the Temple Mount and Western Wall

  2. they are not Palestinians they are arabs the big lie !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  3. this is crap and shit from a jew hater

  4. As Soon as you hear the accusations of anti-sematisim you can be sure you are somewhere near the topic associated with the planned program of the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian peoples. The anti-sematic excuse is not only both predictable and cowardly it is so tiring having to hear the hateful rant that follows it. So
    without even looking at the altered/constructed history from the previous comments, I will go straight to posting some recent research that debunks the offical, false story line

    1)Israel’s Secret Shame by John Pilger

    The “cleansing” of Tantura (a term used at the time) was a well-kept secret. When they were interviewed four years ago, several Palestinian witnesses said they feared for their lives if they spoke out. One survivor, who as a child witnessed the murder of his entire family in Tantura, said to the interviewer: “But believe me, one should not mention these things. I do not want them to take revenge against us. You are going to cause us trouble… ”

    Trouble indeed. The researcher, a student called Teddy Katz, has had his masters degree annulled by Haifa University, even though he was awarded a top grade by the Middle Eastern department. When his research was revealed in the Israeli press, Jewish veterans of the attack on Tantura sued him for libel, and several Jewish witnesses recanted.

    Katz had breached the taboo of the ethnic cleansing that gave birth to Israel and which the Palestinians mourn as Nakba – the catastrophe. Without waiting for the case to come to court, the university struck Katz’s name from its honour roll. Whispered to be a traitor, and under pressure from his family and friends, Katz, a devout Zionist who lived on a kibbutz, apologised. Twelve hours later, he retracted his apology.

    Professor Ilan Pappe is one of the few to have read all the transcripts of more than 60 hours of Katz’s taping of eyewitness evidence. “They include,” he wrote, “horrific descriptions of executions, of the killing of fathers in front of children, of rape and torture.” He describes Katz’s thesis “as a solid and convincing piece of work whose essential validity is in no way marred by its shortcomings”. The shortcomings, he says, come down to four minor mistakes. But the importance of the Katz research is its illumination of Israel’s history in terms of “the expulsion, direct and indirect, of some 750,000 Palestinians, the systematic destruction of more than 400 villages and scores of urban neighbourhoods, as well as the perpetration of some 40 massacres of unarmed Palestinians.”

    Although other prominent scholars supported Katz, a silence and hostility familiar to those who break academic and political ranks in Israel descended on the case. Since the election of Ariel Sharon last year, this hostility is such that not even national heroes are forgiven. Last month, Yaffa Yarkoni, “Israel’s Vera Lynn”, whose emotional, wistful songs have celebrated Zionist triumphalism from 1948 to the present day, lost her huge popularity overnight when she remarked that Israeli soldiers ought not to be writing numbers on the arms of Palestinians. “Isn’t that what the Germans did?” she asked.

    One newspaper headline called her an “enemy of the people”; an editor said she “has joined the new anti-Semites in Europe”. In challenging the Zionist version of Israel’s past, Ilan Pappe is one of Israel’s “new historians”, a distinguished and courageous critic. He has likened the Israeli state to apartheid South Africa, with its Palestinian “bantustans” and plethora of humiliating controls which now restrict the movement of people within their own communities. He says that Sharon’s goal is to begin the mass expulsion of Palestinians across the Jordan; only a pretext is required. According to one poll, 44 per cent of Israelis support this latest “cleansing”, known as “transfer”, another euphemism from the past. In 1948, David Ben-Gurion, Israel’s founding prime minister, wrote, “We have accomplished our settlement by transfer of the [Palestinian] population.”

    Not quite. The notion of a “final transfer” is supported by a number of cabinet members in the ruling Likud government, by leading Labour Party members and professors and media commentators. “Very few now dare to condemn it,” says Pappe. “A circle has been closed. When Israel took over almost 80 per cent of Palestine in 1948, it did so through settlement and ethnic cleansing. The country has a prime minister who enjoys wide public support and who wants to determine by force the future of the remaining 20 per cent.”

    Now it might be Professor Pappe’s turn to be expelled from Haifa University. In an open letter circulated two weeks ago, he writes that the dean of the humanities department has demanded his expulsion for criticising the university over the Katz case. This runs deeper; Pappe has been a consistent opponent of Israel’s illegal military occupation of Palestine. He describes the university “court” that threatens to punish him as a “McCarthyite charade”. He has called upon “universities worldwide to debate a boycott of Israeli institutions, READ FULL ARTICLE@ http://www.zmag.org/content/showarticle.cfm?ItemID=2040

    Overcoming Zionism
    July 17th, 2007 ·

    At the turn of the l9th century, a Zionist conference in Vienna delegated several rabbi’s to travel to Palestine on a fact finding mission. The rabbi’s arrived and cabled back, “the bride is beautiful, but she is married to another man”. The Zionist Jews had “a fantasized relationship to a mythic territory… .and that has been the fatal flaw in Zionism, both before and after the conquest, and why we call it, ungenerously but truthfully, a bad idea.” Kovel writes incisively of what ensued and deserves to be quoted at length. “A tremendous struggle would be necessary, therefore, if the Zionists were to dislodge these inhabitants, and only a tremendously concentrated desire could suffice to energize that struggle.” There were great difficulties. “…the resistance of those who stood in the way would have to be displaced; the exigencies of geo-politics; and one’s own inner being, which would have to be retooled from the self-image of an ethical victim to that of a ruthless conqueror. All of these obstacles could be dealt with by signing on to Western imperialism and capitalism.” Jewish suffering and persecution became justification for aggression in asserting the “outlandish claim of a territory controlled 2500 years ago by one’s putative ancestors.” The Israelis took 78% of the territory in l948 and another 14% in l967. The logic of Zionism – to create an ethnically pure Jewish state – led to organized terrorism; “the essentials had been put in place by the mid-1930s” and the opportunity came in l948.

    The leaders of Zionism, Chaim Arlosoroff, Vladamir Jabotinsky, even and especially David Ben Gurion quietly articulated the need to drive the Arabs out. South African Prime Minister Henrik Verwoerd said in l96l something the liberals wouldn’t: that the Zionists “took Israel from the Arabs after the Arabs had lived there for a thousand years. In that, I agree with them, Israel, like South Africa, is an apartheid state.”

    When the smoke lifted in l948, 531 Arab villages had been destroyed, some 750,000 Palestinians driven out. Three Israeli Prime Ministers have been world class terrorists, bent on ridding Palestine of its natives.. In l948 Menachem Begin organized the dynamiting of the British headquarters in the King David Hotel in Jerusalem, killing 88 persons, including 15 Jews. That year also saw the terrorizing of the Villiage of Dier Yassin. With Begin in command, Yitzhak Shamir, who was also to become a PM, and whose frankly fascist organization The Stern Gang, actually made overtures to the Nazi’s to create a Jewish state along totalitarian lines, took part in the operation.

    This most odious act of ethnic cleansing took place in the peaceable Arab village on April 9, l948. Under Begin’s command, “acting in collaboration with the Zionist leadership,” …”an elite force descended on the village and systematically set about to slaughter its people, disemboweling a pregnant woman, raping others, taking prisoners and then shooting them, and not stopping until noon the next day when 93 villagers lay dead […]

    There is no shortage of information out there documenting this more than half a century of planned ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian peoples and hopefully the boycott underway by peoples of conscience will inform and educate others.

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