News Roundup: Media Responses to Breaking the Silence Report on Soldiers’ Abuse of Palestinian Children


In August 2012, the Israeli veterans organization Breaking the Silence released a booklet of former soldiers’ testimonies describing incidents of army abuse of Palestinian children. In response, many alternative and mainstream media outlets published articles about the topic. This post provides links and summaries to the most significant media coverage of the report.

In the British Guardian, Harriet Sherwood summarized some of the most disturbing incidents described in the testimonies. She also interviewed one of the veterans who provided testimony for the report, who reported that “he had been given no guidance during his training for military service on how to deal with minors.”

In one of the most disturbing testimonies in the Breaking the Silence report, Testimony #27, an Israeli veteran described his participation in the 2007 beating of a Palestinian teenager in Hebron. In a report for the British Independent, Donald MacIntyre interviewed the teenager (now a young man) and compared his account of the beating to the perpetrator’s testimony. MacIntyre also described the effect of the incident on the Palestinian’s life and his struggle to recover from the abuse.

Agence France Presse generated an article summarizing a few testimonies. The piece included a statement from the Israeli military, accusing Breaking the Silence of producing “negative publicity regarding the IDF” rather than “facilitating proper investigation.”

Gerard Horton, Defense for Children International lawyer, wrote a lengthy analysis of the report at the blog of British MP Graham Jones. Horton stated that Israeli soldiers’ violence against Palestinian children was one of many techniques used to maintain control over Palestinian civilians in the West Bank. He also summarized a few troubling patterns in the testimonies, including the violent dispersion of peaceful demonstrations and the use of children as human shields.

An article in the Australian placed the report in the context of roughly contemporaneous Israeli civilian violence against Palestinian children and Israeli army violence against clearly-designated noncombatants.

In the Australian Sydney Morning Herald, Ruth Pollard interviewed both Yehuda Shaul of Breaking the Silence and several Israeli military and government spokespeople. She also compiled a video of interviews of Shaul, several Israeli veterans, a Palestinian mother, and a Palestinian boy who was arrested several times on suspicion of throwing stones.

In a lengthy article in the Israeli YNet Magazine, Oded Shalom called Israeli army violence against Palestinian children “routine.” He extensively discussed Breaking the Silence’s decision to distribute the report for free to Israeli high school students, who are preparing to enter their own military service.

Christian-Palestinian organization Sabeel devoted the summer-fall 2012 issue of its newsletter Cornerstone, titled “Breaking A Generation,” to Israeli treatment of detained Palestinian children. The newsletter compiles articles from activists Gerard Horton (Defense for Children International) and Salwa Duabis (Women’s Center for Legal Aid and Counseling); testimonies from an Israeli soldier, a Palestinian child, and a Palestinian mother; and a psychiatrist’s expert opinion on the effect of solitary confinement on Palestinian children.

Agence France PresseArrestsBorder PoliceBreaking the SilenceCornerstoneDCISoldiersStone ThrowingThe AustralianThe GuardianThe IndependentThe Sydney Morning HeraldWest BankYNet