I am also breaking the silence. My name is Tuvia Book I also served in the Israel Defense Forces and I am also sick of hearing all the talk around me and I can’t keep silent any more and so I’ve decided to break the silence.
I served in Lebanon, in Gaza and in Judea and Samaria. I was a soldier in a front line combat unit. I served for many years in miluim (reserve duty). I went through rigorous training and took many courses in the army. I participated in numerous military operations in all areas of our state and beyond her borders, and I have to declare that I never received an “illegal order.” I never took part in any activity that deliberately harmed innocent civilians. Every briefing I participated in before going out on a mission, no matter how small or large, stressed the importance of guarding the values of the IDF. I am extremely proud of my own service and of all those who served with me. I was privileged to be with the best of the best of the people of Israel.
I am proud of our state; of its open democracy. I think that there is a way and space to speak and have an opinion on what happens in the state and in the IDF. The way is not through lies or financial support of foreign countries and organizations and dragging the name of the State of Israel, its army and its citizens through the mud.
There is room to criticize the IDF, but the criticism should be made fairly and honestly. Namely, to provide all known information and sources to the IDF’s investigative bodies, who do their job, honestly and faithfully, of investigating every case that oversteps the boundaries of the commands and spirit of the IDF.
The NGO “Breaking the Silence,” which receives financial support from international organizations, some of whom openly deny Israel’s right to exist, does not work that way. A large part of its claims are anonymous, with no identifying information, nor are they delivered to the IDF’s investigative bodies, rather transferred directly to international bodies hostile to Israel and the IDF. The organization does not cooperate in investigating its claims, preferring to spread these malicious stories unchecked abroad.
Recently, while visiting an IAF airbase with a group from the United States I was guiding, we met an F15 pilot who last summer flew seventeen missions against one target in Gaza and every time the mission was aborted. One of the participants asked if it was frustrating. The pilot responded,
It is not frustrating, that is the best thing about the IAF. It does not allow me to attack a target where innocent civilians will be targeted. And I could not live with the consequences of those actions for the rest of my life.”
During my IDF service, not harming innocent civilians was always in the front of my mind. I would rather die myself than kill innocent civilians and have to live with myself.
Colonel Richard Kemp, CBE, a preeminent British military expert, who was the Commander of British Forces in Afghanistan noted that:
The Israeli army have taken greater steps then any other army in the history of warfare to minimise the harm to innocent civilians in a combat zone.”
The reality of the IDF is the mirror opposite of the image that is projected by the “Breaking the Silence” NGO.