Countering malicious allegations by left-wing NGO Breaking the Silence, Israelis who served in the military are publishing the truth about what transpired in Gaza during Operation Protective Edge.  

IDF Protective Edge

IDF forces operating against Hamas in Gaza. (IDF)

A group of former IDF soldiers, incensed by an Israeli NGO’s claims that they abused Palestinians during Operation Protective Edge last summer, have taken to social media to fight the allegations.

Under the hashtag #my_truth in Hebrew, the soldiers, many of whom faced heavy fire from Hamas and other terrorist groups during the 50-day operation, have begun posting stories of cases showing how they went to great lengths to avoid harming Palestinians. They also mentioned incidents in which Gaza civilians took part in terrorist activity.

The goal of this initiative is to counter damning anonymous “testimony” by other troops published by Breaking the Silence, an NGO that frequently publicizes allegations that the IDF abuses Palestinians.

Breaking the Silence touts itself as an organization of ex-IDF soldiers who collect testimonies from troops that served in Palestinian areas since the start of the Second Intifada.

While claiming that their goal is to “raise awareness over the everyday reality of serving in the occupied territories and to create a discussion about the cost of military control over a civilian population for so many years,” the NGO refuses to post the names of the soldiers who testify. They have also refused to pass along their accounts to the IDF’s Military Advocate General’s Corps for investigation, despite repeated requests by senior IDF officials.

Furthermore, the latest accusation was first published in English and released to the foreign media. Breaking the Silence members routinely go abroad to spread their allegations instead of taking their complaints directly to the IDF or civilian courts.

The latest counter-initiative to the NGO report began after Israeli Member of Knesset Zehava Galon, head of the ultra-left Meretz party, posted hostile testimony last Tuesday on her Facebook page, saying: “The unit identified two figures walking in an orchard around 900 meters from where we were posted. The figures were two girls. The observation post could not see them well, so the commander sent a UAV. The UAV marked them as dangerous. The unit directed an aircraft who fired on the girls, killing them. When the bodies were checked they had no weapons on them.”

Such accounts, which purport to show the IDF in a bad light, have prompted numerous counter claims.

Revealing the Truth to Counter Accusations

After reading the Breaking the Silence pamphlet, former IDF soldier Matan Katzman wrote on his Facebook page last Thursday: “During Operation Summer Rains in Beit Hanoun [in the northern Gaza Strip in 2006], we entered a house with a couple living in it. We asked them if they’re involved with Hamas, they said ‘no, not at all.’ We asked them if they have weapons in the house, [and] they said ‘no, not at all.’ We stayed in the house for a couple of hours. When we left, we moved the couch and discovered an IED.”

The informal pro-IDF campaign by former Israeli soldiers also cited examples of humane and respectful behavior towards non-combatants during operations in Judea and Samaria.

Avishai Shorsham referred during testimony to his Facebook post last Wednesday, in which he wrote: “During an operation in the Shechem [Nablus] kasbah, while we are in the middle of a stakeout, an old man who lived in the house felt sharp pain in his chest. Against orders, we evacuated him in the middle of the night while endangering ourselves.”

According to the organization’s website, the recent Breaking the Silence pamphlet was produced with the “generous support” of foreign organizations such as Christian Aid, Dan Church Aid, Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law, Secretariat and the Open Society Foundations founded by George Soros, a billionaire known for his extreme left-wing and anti-Israel activism.

By: Matti Bernhardt, Tazpit News Agency