Saturday, October 13, 2007

[wvns] Study: Israelis Power-Intoxicated

On the academic research of Psychologist Nofer Ishai-Karen and
Psychology Prof. Joel Elitzur, Dalia Karpel

shortened translation of article in Haaretz `Hamedovevet`

`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 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 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

Soldier `B` testimony:
`I was on my first patrol. Others simply shot like mad. I started to
shoot as they did. They `set my 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. of 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, not 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 `Army [commanders] were aware of
the erosion towards violence, and encouraged it in order to save


General Matan Vilna`i must have known what happened. High-ranking
officers who served on the Occupied West Bank had voiced similar
warnings against Israeli Army behavior. `The orders left a wide gap, a
margin... of intentionally un-specified `grey zone`, which encouraged
violent behavior of soldiers`, said Reserve Colonel Elisha Shapira,
who served in the Nablus Area at the same time. Soldiers were told
`don`t hit Palestinians - but bring them to interrogation
`swell-headed` - blown-up`.

The events, which Nofer Ishai-Karen researched, happened some 17 years
ago. The situation has further deteriorated since that time. Now
Israeli Army and Air Force General openly take pride in acts of
revenge against Palestinian civilians. Maj-Gen Eliezer Shkeidi took
pride in announcing that his pilots break the sound barrier over Gaza,
producing sonic booms.

These cause severe PTSD symptoms among young children; they have also
caused miscarriages among pregnant women. The indiscriminate shelling
of Palestinian homes had caused many deaths lately, including many
children. Perhaps last but not least: The Israeli cabinet, backed by
Washington, said it would disrupt power and fuel supply to Gaza.

[1] This is an abbreviated translation of an article by Dalia Karpel
titled HAMEDOVEVET [=the one who makes people talk]. The article
appeared on the Hebrew Weekend Supplement, on 21 September 2007. It is
based on academic research, which Nofer Ishai-Karen and Psychology
Prof. Joel Elizur, of the Hebrew University published in ALPAYIM
Magazine Vol. 31.

[2] The article was not translated to English and thus did NOT appear
in Haaretz English Language edition.

[3] Psychology Prof. Joel Elizur, of the Hebrew University, who guided
Nofer Ishai-Karen in her Master`s thesis, served in the reserves in
the Mental Health Department of the Israeli Army. But the IDF wouldn`t
allow him to research into Israeli Soldiers` violence. The researchers
hold the interview raw audio material.

[4] To my best knowledge the Israeli Army hasn`t either charged a
single case of abuse or murder by soldiers of Palestinians in proper



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