Thursday, July 16, 2009

IDF Soldiers Give Eyewitness Accounts To Counter Anonymous Accusations

From an email:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Michael Dickson, Director, SWU Israel Office
Cell: (+972) 52 409 9957 or mdickson@standwithus.com

July 16th 2009


SOLDIERS SPEAK OUT AGAINST NEW IDF ALLEGATIONS

IN RESPONSE TO ‘BREAKING THE SILENCE’ REPORT, NEW TESTIMONIALS HAVE BEEN ADDED TO SOLDIERSSPEAKOUT, A WEBSITE THAT FEATURES EYE WITNESS ACCOUNTS FROM IDF SOLDIERS

SOLDIERS REQUESTED THAT STANDWITHUS LAUNCH WWW.SOLDIERSSPEAKOUT.COM TO SHARE THEIR PERSONAL AND POSITIVE COMBAT EXPERIENCES WITH THE WORLD

“Breaking the Silence are breaking the rules for any kind of serious reporting”

JERUSALEM (July 15, 2009) – A wave of IDF soldiers have come forward to video their positive, eye-witness testimony to www.soldiersspeakout.com, outraged by a report recently released by ‘Breaking the Silence’, which alleges misconduct by IDF soldiers during Operation cast lead towards Palestinian civilians.

StandWithUs, an international education organization, created the website at the request of IDF members in its student programs who felt compelled to speak out. www.soldierspeakout.com contains testimonials from soldiers who share their personal, positive and humanitarian experiences of serving in the IDF. (This independent initiative is not coordinated with either the IDF or the Israeli Government.)

Breaking the Silence is breaking the rules for any kind of serious reporting”, said Michael Dickson, Israel director of StandWithUs, “They are a fringe group with a political agenda who have collected anonymous ‘testimony,’ the majority of which is based on hearsay and rumor. One account is from a soldier not even present at the time of the alleged grievance. In contrast, the soldiers featured on soldiersspeakout.com give testimony on camera without their face blurred and from their own personal experience.”

Explains Roz Rothstein, international director of StandWithUs, “we created this website because a few isolated allegations from ‘anti-war’ Israeli soldiers are being used to defame the IDF. Yet the IDF has over 700,000 citizen soldiers and reservists - thousands of whom served in Gaza - who try to live up to its high ethical standards. To slander an IDF campaign on the basis of the anonymous reports of around 0.2% of those serving at the time is ridiculous.”

The soldiers talk both about the challenges of facing a terrorist enemy that embedded itself with civilians for protection and about their determination to keep to the army’s moral code of conduct in this situation. Idan, who served in an elite Givati unit, talks about his ordering of his soldiers to clean up a Palestinian home after they were in it and how they collected items from their own food parcels from home and left it for the family. Lior, a combat soldier in the Gaza campaign, recounts instances of seeing individuals who they suspected were terrorists, but they were not sure so they did not shoot. Another soldier, Yaron, concurs, telling of the order he and his comrades were given to avoid civilian casualties.

Noam, an officer in the Givati unit discusses how many booby-trapped houses they faced and how the bombs would have killed both IDF soldiers and Palestinian civilians had they not been disarmed.

The new footage on www.soldiersspeakout.com joins other testimony in which soldiers share experiences rarely told by the international media. Nina, a 25 year-old IDF medic who served in Gaza, recounts how she and other IDF soldiers treated wounded Palestinian men, women and children and arranged for them to be flown to Israeli hospitals for medical care. She explains that IDF medics are taught not to see nationality, but rather to treat the wounded with the severest injuries first, even if they are terrorists.

Amir, a military reserve paramedic in the Givati unit in Gaza, confirms Nina’s account. “I was present when injured Palestinians were flown out by IDF chopper to Israeli hospitals. Imagine the cost of that helicopter, but we believe that human life is of the highest value – their identity doesn’t matter.” Amir’s video relates how he helped a pregnant Palestinian woman in labor while he was searching for terrorists in Gaza.

“Breaking the Silence are misleading in their name and their aim,” remarks Dickson, “There is no silence to break. Israel is an open and democratic society that regularly
investigates its own actions, but this one-sided and shoddy report fails to stress the context of the war – a battle against Hamas terrorists hiding behind civilians and it omits names, ranks and facts about soldiers and their stories. That this one-sided group receive funding from both the EU and the British Embassy in Tel Aviv deserves to be investigated.”

• The Soldiers Speak Out website is at www.soldiersspeakout.com

• The soldiers are prepared to conduct interviews by request – please email mdickson@standwithus.com or call +972 (0)52 409 9957.


StandWithUs, an international, non-profit Israel education organization, hosts speakers and conferences, offers website resources and creates brochures and materials about Israel that are distributed globally. Based in Los Angeles, the organization has offices across the U.S. and in Israel and the UK. SWU was founded in 2001 in response to the public’s need and desire for mainstream information about the Arab-Israeli conflict. StandWithUsCampus helps college students challenge anti-Israel bias.
http://www.standwithus.com and http://www.standwithuscampus.com and http://www.standwithus.co.il

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Avi Posnick
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Office: (212) 398-2524
Fax: (212) 842 0161
Cell: (516) 698 3449

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