23-year-old former Sergeant in an Israel Defense Forces (IDF) unit in the Nablus area.
My name is Frima, I’m 23 years old. I was originally from Jerusalem and today I’m living in Tel Aviv working for Breaking the Silence.
I did my military service between 2013 and 2015 in the Nablus region; I served in the civil administration. The civil administration is basically the bureaucracy of the occupation, behind the scenes of everything that goes on in the West Bank and my job was specifically in an operations room in the Nablus region.
Maybe I will say one word about where I came from? I grew up in Jerusalem to a religious family, a modern-orthodox, Jewish family, so I wasn’t supposed to go to the military. If you are a religious woman you can abstain from service, but I wanted, well, at least in high school, I wanted very much to serve, and throughout time I learned more about what is happening in the territories and about the occupation, and I decided that the right thing for me to do was to go and serve, especially in the West Bank.
I think, like a lot of soldiers in Breaking the Silence, I had the idea that I would be the good soldier in the bad situation. I think that the reason for me, that I decided to join Breaking the Silence and give testimony is that what I experienced is this very strong clash of values. I was being raised on religious values of respecting other people, and not doing any harm to anyone, and then what I saw throughout my service is the system of occupation and how it controls the every day life aspects of Palestinians. Whether it is movement, whether it is their ability to visit family, their ability to go to work and to have a dignified life. But I think that the most powerful thing for me was to see settlers in the West Bank, and specifically in the Nablus region where there are a lot of very extreme settlers. The violence that they commit against Palestinians or their property is not taken care of, so the law is not enforced on them, definitely not in the way that it is enforced on Palestinians, who are under military law. Also just to see that these are people that define themselves as religious people, who believe, and wear a kippah and who are supposed to respect Shabbat, and all these rituals, but when it comes to harming Palestinians or their property…
Suddenly we will see a situation where we get a complaint from a Palestinian in one of the villages, who in the middle of the night on Friday night, which is Shabbat, hears the sound of an electric saw. So soldiers go out there in the middle of the night and they find a settler, cutting down olive trees with an electric saw on Shabbat, when according to Jewish law, you are not supposed to use electricity. So things like that – or even just children that go out to the junction and throw stones on Shabbat at Palestinian cars.
People who are identifying themselves as religious Jews, and speaking kind of on my behalf as the Jewish people, the Jewish country, all these ideals, but are willing to bend those rules when it comes to harming Palestinians or their property. And I think that my friends and my family, and the place that we come from, we don’t talk about this. We don’t talk about it in Israeli society at large. So I wanted to talk about it and tell people that this is happening in our name.
It’s not just some extremists here are there, it’s a system that allows that to happen and we have to do something about it. This is part of the occupation. It’s not just violent civilians that the police can take care of, it is part of the system, it is part of what the occupation allows.
Because of the occupation we have violence. It is a cycle of violence going back and forth so, of course, Israeli people are also hurt by this. Terrorist attacks, and soldiers having to go and guard these settlements and risk their lives, and go into Gaza every two years and get killed. So of course we are victims, but we are not the ultimate victims.
We are not talking about the conflict at large, we are talking about occupation, and in occupation there is the occupier and the people who are occupied. We are the occupiers and we have the responsibility.