Yossi Sarid
July 25, 2008 - 2:32pm

As long as the Israel Defense Forces continue to coin lies and half-truths, don't sell me the story about the army that has rehabilitated itself, where a new spirit has arisen. When commanders and their subordinates continue to grow on the lie culture's bed of rotting straw, they are bound to leave their boots in the sand, and if not their boots then shabby illusions. The Second Lebanon War was the stinking fruit of an all-embracing and disgraceful culture of whitewash (and so was the first), we were warned. Trust is more important than training, always.

All this happened this week: A gang of soldiers attacked two Druze families that were trying to vacation on the beach at Atlit. The soldiers were violent, they were drunk, they were skinheads even if they had hair - and they were IDF soldiers. The army has given its version of the incident, which even the police have had a hard time accepting. And in Carmiel, Hazam Jubran of the town of Rama was attacked. Dozens of youths, before or after conscription, overturned his car on him, injuring him. "He was just minding his own business."

And near the village of Na'alin a soldier shot at Ashraf Abu Rahma from one meter away. Ashraf was handcuffed and blindfolded. Two weeks have gone by since then. Had a teenage girl not been looking out her window and filming, the sickening story would not have come to light, and it's a rare thing that a teenage girl happens to come along with a camera to a crime scene.

The battalion commander held the prisoner for the marksman, as though he were a pimp holding an underaged girl to make it easier for the rapist to have his way with her. After the shooting, the commander and his subordinate continued to serve the nation and no one appeared concerned. Now the soldier is claiming that he had been given an order, whereas the commander claims he had ordered the soldier to "make some noise with his weapon" for the purpose of frightening only.

Who is going to tell the both of them that even threatening a bound prisoner with death is a war crime? How should they know if it hasn't been explained to them and if until now there have been similar cases that went by without all this damaging noise, which harms the morale of the fighters who are gung ho about their military service and poisoned by it?

The IDF spokesman "views the matter with gravity," forgetting to raise his voice against the conspiracy of silence that was only broken by a videocassette. And it is easy enough to imagine what the response would have been had they not been documented there in the act: "It never happened," or "If a complaint is filed it will be looked into," or "The detainee was endangering the lives of the forces in the area." We don't need the skills of the soothsaying rabbi from Netivot to diagnose the slipperiness in the official statements, the evasiveness and the prevarication that know no bounds.

The exchanges of versions and reactions are the minutiae of injustice; in any case, it is a matter of blatantly criminal commands and deeds, over which flies the black flag that ought to prompt a soldier of good conscience to disobey an order. But how is it possible to see black in the darkness that descended on the country more than 40 years ago? These are the findings of the time machine that is also a truth detector, for the information of the military police. When we talk about animals on their side, we must not forget our glass menagerie.


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