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Suicide now top killer of Israeli soldiers
Friday 16 July 2004
Khalid Amayreh in the West Bank.
Suicide now top killer of Israel soldiers.

Photos taken in Hebron bring out Israeli troops' emotional trauma
Photos taken in Hebron bring out Israeli troops' emotional trauma
For the first time, suicide has become the leading cause of death in the Israeli armed forces, according to an Israeli newspaper report.
Quoting statistics from Israeli army's rehabilitation division, the Hebrew daily Maariv said that in 2003, the number of Israeli soldiers who committed suicide was significantly higher than those killed during military incursions in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
A total of 43 Israeli soldiers took their own lives last year compared to 30 soldiers killed in intifada-related hostilities, said the report.
This represents a 30% increase in the number of suicides over the 2002 figure of 31.
Additionally, in 2003, 32 Israeli soldiers died of various illnesses, 27 were killed in traffic accidents or during vacation and 10 died in traffic accidents while on duty.
Nine soldiers were killed during training and practice exercises and in course of military operations. A further eight soldiers died due to other reasons.
This year's suicide figure is just as disturbing. The newspaper said 15 Israeli soldiers have killed themselves in the first six months of 2004.
Embarrassed by the report, the Israeli Ministry of Defence refused to comment on its content. A spokesperson said she "knew nothing of the report", adding the ministry "had nothing to do with it".
Suicide now top killer of Israel

Israel soldiers psychologically scarred
Soldiers psychologically scarred
The publication of the Maariv report appears to have taken the Israeli military by surprise.
An army spokesman said the fatality figures may have been leaked by unauthorised sources within the army or the Ministry of Defence.
He said the army is deliberating about the revelations.
The Israeli army denies as a matter of course any connection between army 'excesses' in the occupied territories and the phenomenon of suicides among soldiers.
Army sources routinely cite more mundane reasons such as emotional crises, bullying and persecution by superiors, and psychological depression.
However, it is widely believed that a significant number of the suicide cases are connected to soldiers' traumatic experiences in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
'Terrible burden'
An Israeli peace activist, who spoke to on condition of anonymity, said she believed many of the soldiers who went on to take their own lives, simply couldn't live with the moral burden of causing avoidable and unjustified deaths in the occupied Palestinian territories.
Israeli soldiers are ordered to do things that go against their moral values ... and they are left with this terrible burden which evolves into depression and eventually leads to suicide"
Israeli peace activist
"They are ordered to do things that go against their moral values and when they do — because, after all, a good soldier is one who obeys orders, not one who thinks — they are left with this terrible burden which evolves into depression and eventually leads to suicide." Last month, a number of former conscripts who had just finished their army service in the southern West Bank town of Hebron, described vividly the manner in which they mistreated and humiliated Palestinian civilians.
The group set up a photo exhibition opposite the Defence Ministry complex in Tel Aviv, featuring graphic pictures of ordinary Palestinians being tormented, often in a sadistic manner, by occupation soldiers.
The Israeli army tried unsuccessfully to prevent the exhibition on the grounds that it tarnished its image and undermined 'the war on terror'.
In another incident, which took place earlier this week, an army reserve soldier joined the small but growing list of so-called refuseniks opposed to the continued Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
In a letter to his local recruitment officer explaining his reasons for disobeying orders to join his unit in the West Bank, Chaim Feldman accused the Israeli army of committing manifestly criminal acts against innocent Palestinians.
"My letter to you is short and concise.
I have no intention of wearing the uniform of this organisation known as the Israeli Defence Forces which fires artillery shells on civilian crowds, including children and old people.
I see no reason why I should join this organisation."
The 'conscientious objector' described the IDF as an organisation that defends "fascist settlers breaking the law and uprooting and burning olive trees".
Feldman is likely to be tried and imprisoned for disobeying orders and desertion.
Suicide now top killer of Israel

Troops have also borne the brunt of Palestinian resistance attacks
Troops have also borne the brunt of Palestinian resistance attacks
Mounting toll
To be sure, a majority of Israelis regard the refuseniks and their supporters as 'traitors' and 'Hamas lovers'.
None the less, a growing and increasingly vocal minority of Israeli intellectuals and citizens back them, arguing that 'conscientious objectors' in the armed forces represent the "the Jewish people's true moral ideal" of "not doing unto others what one wouldn't others to do unto you".
Since the outbreak of the present intifada in September 2000, the Israeli army and paramilitary Jewish settlers have killed more than 3400 Palestinians, a majority of them innocent civilians, including some 640 children and minors.
Thousands of others have been injured, many of them disabled for life.
During the same period, as many 950 Israeli soldiers, settlers and civilians have been killed by armed Palestinian fighters, including human bombers.
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The celebration of Jerusalem day, the US missiles that rained onto children in Gaza,
and, a gathering of top articles over the past nine months
April 2004
US missiles — US money — and Palestine
March 2004
A young Palestinian man hitting an Israeli teargas bomb with his shoes away from demonstrators.
Israeli occupation soldiers killed two demonstrators and injured more than a hundred of them during anti-Wall demonstrations in the West Bank.
February 2004
A Palestinian elderly woman screaming in despair, complaining to God, as an Israeli occupation army bulldozer started to prepare her land for the construction of the separation wall in the village of Dair Qidees, near the West Bank city of Ramallah.
January 2004
Israeli occupation soldiers guarding bulldozers demolishing Palestinian homes.
A Palestinian man, perhaps who has lived in one of the homes, sits on the ground watching, his small daughters around him.
December 2003
Palestinian boys cry over the body of their father.
8 Palestinians were killed and 40 were injured,in the Rafah refugee camp in the southern Gaza Strip.
Many homes were destroyed during a savage Israeli occupation raid on the refugee camp on Tuesday.
November 2003
A Palestinian family in Jenin, moments before the Israeli occupation forces blew up their home.
October 2003
Tom Hurndall, the peace activist who was shot by Israeli occupation forces while helping to shield some Palestinian children, is declared to be brain dead.
Two Palestinian children were among about 100 Palestinian civilians injured in the Israeli air raids on Gaza Strip, which also resulted in killing 10 civilians.
September 2003
See the home blow up.
Blowing up more Palestinian homes as a collective punishment is a daily Israeli practice (paid for by US money) to control Palestinians under occupation.
The life and death of Kamala Sawalha
A student leaves her house every night, leaving her two young children at home, spends the next several hours traveling by taxi and on foot to get to the university in the neighboring town — just 15 minutes away.
Kamala wanted very badly to study — otherwise, it would be hard to understand the sacrifice she made for it.
To get up before dawn every morning, to leave the babies with their grandmother, to spend hours on the road in the heat and cold, even when pregnant, in order to get to the campus on time; to risk being shot or subjected to endless humiliations around every turn, and then to travel the whole way back — in a taxi where possible and on foot where necessary....
“Suddenly we were facing the soldiers,” he recounts.  The jeep was parked on the left side of the road and its right door was open.  Kamala let out a long scream.  It was the last sound she would ever make.
At 11:30 A.M., they buried Kamala Sawalha in the town cemetery.
Children trying to commit suicide
Now the landscape itself has changed
More Palestinian mothers are giving birth at home because they dare not risk ride to hospital.
Punching an arab in the face.
The father went through it and now the son is going through it and no one talks about it around the dinner table.
Furer is certain that what happened to him is not at all unique. 
Here he was — a creative, sensitive graduate of the Thelma Yellin High School of the Arts, who became an animal at the checkpoint, a violent sadist who beat up Palestinians because they didn’t show him the proper courtesy, who shot out tires of cars because their owners were playing the radio too loud, who abused a retarded teenage boy lying handcuffed on the floor of the Jeep, just because he had to take his anger out somehow.
For archive purposes, this article is being stored on website.
The purpose is to advance understandings of environmental, political,
human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues.