A message from former Israeli soldiers - 12/7/23

“Since October 7th, Israeli politicians, journalists and commentators have been doubling down on their claim to the Israeli public that “there are no innocents in Gaza.” They willingly ignore the fact that Gaza’s population stands at 2.3 million, with 40% of them under age 15.

"There are no innocents in Gaza” is not only an inhumane claim, but a dangerous one. The only way to interpret it is as a blank check to justify the extensive killing of the men, women, and children in Gaza whose only crime is living on the other side of the fence.

“They voted for Hamas,” many keep saying in Israel and around the world, referring to elections that took place 18 years ago. Most of those living in Gaza today weren’t even born then, including the over 6,000 children estimated to have been killed in the past weeks.

There’s no way to measure how this rhetoric affects IDF operations, but the numbers are horrifying. Israeli officials claim 5,000 of over 16,000 Palestinians killed so far were Hamas operatives. Even if true, the number of civilian deaths per every Hamas operative is staggering.

Former IDF soldiers who took part in the fighting in Gaza during operation “Protective Edge” in 2014 testified themselves on encountering innocent civilians who remained in the areas the IDF deemed as “sterile” following its warnings to evacuate.

The October 7th massacre was unthinkable. Over 1,200 dead, 240 hostages. Almost every Israeli knows someone who was kidnapped, murdered, raped. Yet despicable claims like “there are no innocents in Gaza” also knowingly endanger the 138 Israelis still held hostage in Gaza.

Returned hostages Emily Hand and Hila Shoshani - both children - were rushed from house to house under the *Israeli* bombardment. We endangered and continue to endanger the lives of the hostages, just like the lives of countless Palestinian children, women, elderly.

Gazans are trapped between Hamas, which operates from within the civilian population and infrastructure, and the daily reality of Israeli occupation and siege that turned Gaza into an open-air prison. This isn’t a reason to ignore or be indifferent to their fate. On the contrary.

Those saying “there are no innocents in Gaza” are enabling, consciously or not, criminal plans of ethnic cleansing by way of forcible-transfer, as well as extensive killing of innocent civilians. Words that policy makers speak become policy. As Israelis, we must not stay silent.”

-Breaking the Silence
(An organization of Israeli veterans who served in the IDF since 2000)

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