On 4 May 2015 Breaking the Silence, an organisation of active and reserve duty IDF soldiers, released a set of testimonies from more than 60 soldiers who took part in Operation Protective Edge in Gaza in 2015. The testimonies are taken from individuals who served in the army, navy and air force, as well as those in headquarters and command centres. Around a quarter of the testimonies come from officers who rank as high as major.
These testimonies are controversial and there will be inevitably and appropriately be scrutiny and vigorous discussion about their content, and about the context in which the events described in the testimonies, took place. It is important to remember that taking and publishing testimonies of this nature is not illegal, and important also to protect the rights of those who have served, to speak about their experiences as they see fit.
The anonymity of the testimonials gives rise to many issues and Breaking the Silence has preferred over the years to disclose the identity of the testifiers where possible, but there are many social and political considerations which make it difficult for these soldiers to share their experiences in other ways. It is important also to note that in the eleven years in which Breaking the Silence has published testimonies, none has ever been proven false.
The publication’s primary aims are to share these stories so that the nature of the conflict can be better understood, and to prompt an independent Israeli investigation into the operation. Those who served in the operation are entitled to take action to hold their government accountable for policies they believe can be improved.