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Israeli conscripts reveal their country’s atrocities

July 2, 2012

Thursday, November 29. 2007

Six former Israeli female conscripts have spoken out about the darker side of Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories, it was reported.

The documentary “To See If I’m Smiling” shows six former female conscripts describe how they were traumatised for life by the residual guilt that they humiliated, abused and papered over torture of Palestinians.

One of the female soldiers is shown stripping a Palestinian man to his underwear and then beat him.

Another one is scrubbing corpses of Palestinians to hide signs of abuse by Israeli soldiers.

“How in hell did I think I’d ever be able to forget?” said one, fighting back tears.

Director Tamar Yarom said a personal experience encouraged her to make the film.

As a support soldier during the earlier intifada of the 1980s, she was shown a Palestinian torture victim but failed to speak out.

Yarom hopes the documentary will prompt soul-searching in Israeli society and encourage other traumatised ex-soldiers to talk about violence they may have inflicted or witnessed.

“This country is in a coma. With all the bombs and attacks, we are numb,” she said.

She added: “But the strength of the film is how it shows what happens to human beings in such a warped situation, and how women are not immune.”

In September 2003, twenty-seven reserve and active duty airmen signed a letter addressed to then Israeli Premier Ariel Sharon, refusing to carry out “immoral and illegal” raids on Palestinian civilians in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

They warned that the occupation of Palestinian territories was eating at the moral fabric of the state of Israel.

Israel is one of the only countries to enforce military service for women.

The military service is compulsory for Jewish and Druze men and Jewish women over the age of 18, although exceptions may be made on religious, physical or psychological grounds.

Men serve three years in the army, while women serve two.

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