In the beginning of April we put out a new booklet of testimonies that document the daily life in Hebron through the eyes of 39 soldiers who served in the city between the years 2005-2007. The booklet shows yet again that life in the Occupied Territories has not improved in the past years, but is actually steadily deteriorating. Breaking the Silence again calls Israeli Society to take responsibility for what is happening in its name by its sons and daughters.
The tours to Hebron are continuing at full force. Over the last couple of weeks, we are witnessing attempts by Hebron settlers, and consequently of the Hebron police to stop the tours to Hebron. These attempts include physical attacks by the settlers towards the tour guides, and forcing the tours out of the city in various dubious “legal” methods. The attempt to hide the realities of the Occupation from the general public, and specifically those who are more critical to the Occupation is illegitimate in any society which upholds democratic values.

Testimony from the new booklet

Name: ***
Rank: ***
Unit: ***

And the cameras inside Hebron itself?
The police has them, as far as I know at *** Just surveillance of what goes on around there. And the army has them, it goes to *** They have monitors there.

Monitors at the war-room?
Yes, incredible stuff.

And the footage, where does that go?
Nowhere, it stays in the computers. In case there’s any incident… There’s closed-circuit television, cameras everywhere… Like in “The Truman Show”, which are controlled by joystick and zoom and… really state-of-the-art. All the films are kept on the computer.
Poor quality. That’s it. So in those films I saw all kinds of assaults. And breaking in to houses and assaulting people.

Breaking into settler homes?
No, settlers breaking into Arab homes.

Okay, what did you see?
You see them… you see really well. Breaking windows and all. Breaking, kicking and…

So what you see is settlers banging on doors, breaking into houses, you see soldiers standing around nearby and not doing a thing?
No. After a while soldiers come along beacuse they are alerted, and usually do nothing. Maybe catch them… Stop the… Cut the power.

What do you mean?
Most of the cameras, if not all of them, get their power from the settlers’ houses. When they anticipate some rioting, they disconnect the… electricity.

The settlers? Disconnect the cameras, and so…
Yes. Or otherwise disrupt them, yes…

You have witnessed such things sitting at the war-room receiving end?
Sure. It happens. They don’t always know there’s another camera catching them from another direction.

Who is there actually seeing what happens in real time?
Women-soldiers monitoring screens. They have this monitoring system in which they are trained.

How many cameras are there?
About ***. Not just covering the Jewish settlements. They also cover H1 (The part of Hebron supposedly under full Palestinian control). You see, the cameras are situated inside the area of the Jewish settlement – otherwise they’d be vandalised – and cover H1 as well.

So what do they show? Anyone approaching the Jewish settlement?
Yes, anyone there.

What is done with this material?
You mean in case the settlers attack Palestinians? When I was there I know that it could not be passed on to the police…

Forbidden?
Yes. To avoid friction, perhaps. I don’t know. I have no idea what it’s like now. If something happens, say, I know that once there was this incident, I don’t know how to label it – not criminal, not insurgency, but the other way around – on the part of the settlers.

What happened?
I don’t know, *** or someone beat up one of the Arabs. Then, during the police investigation he was shown this film where he was plainly seen. Naturally he called the brigade commander right away and said that these cameras are there to protect the settlers, the Jews. Not to protect the Arabs. And this must not be misunderstood: what happened there was a criminal felony, not insurgent activity. Since then, anytime something like takes place, the army may not hand this material over to the police. And since then, no policeman has been allowed to enter the closed-circuit television monitoring room.

Policemen were not allowed into the war-room?
For a while. Until that was changed. For about a month, no policemen was allowed.

And the army was not supposed to let the police have these tapes?
Yes. I was at the war-room, a policeman came in so this woman-officer said: “I’m sorry, we have our orders from the brigade commander not to let you in here, please leave.”

Press regarding the new Breaking the Silence publication

The Independent

The Christian Science Monitor

Ynet (Leading Israeli online news site)
Opinion piece by leading Israeli journalist Yaron London

Press Regarding the tours to Hebron:
Haaretz

Soldier’s abuse towards Palestinians that reached the press:
Ynet
Breaking the Silence response here

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