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Breaking the Silence: Former Israeli Soldiers Nadav Weiman and Tal Sagi Condemn Israeli Occupation

Web ExclusiveApril 10, 2024
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Watch Part 2 of our discussion with Nadav Weiman and Tal Sagi from Breaking the Silence, an anti-occupation group of Israeli army veterans.

Transcript
This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: President Biden has leveled some of his harshest criticism against Israel as the death toll in Gaza tops 33,300. In an interview with the network Univision, Biden directly criticized Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Israel’s killing of the seven aid workers from the World Central Kitchen last week.

PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: I think what he’s doing is a mistake. I don’t agree with his approach. I think it’s outrageous that those four — or, three vehicles were hit by drones and taken out on a highway, where it wasn’t like it was along the shore. It wasn’t like it was a convoy moving there, etc. So, what I’m calling for is for the Israelis to just call for a ceasefire, allow for the next six, eight weeks a total access to all food and medicine going into the country.

AMY GOODMAN: Biden’s comments were made a week ago but only aired on Univision on Tuesday. Palestinians in Gaza are marking the end of Ramadan as Israel continues its assault. Officials in Gaza say at least 14 Palestinians, including four children, have died in Israeli strikes on the Nuseirat refugee camp. On Monday, Israel assassinated the mayor of the Al-Maghazi refugee camp. Hamas accused Israel of committing a war crime.

ISMAIL AL-THAWABTA: [translated] The Israeli occupation’s army committed a crime yesterday with the assassination of Al-Maghazi municipal chief Hatem Saleh al-Ghamri. He is known as a civilian, a municipal head, who provides municipal services since the first day of this war, this genocide against civilians and civil sectors. The Israeli occupation’s army purposefully targeted al-Ghamri even though they are fully aware that he is a civil servant and only works within that framework at Al-Maghazi refugee camp.

AMY GOODMAN: Meanwhile, on Capitol Hill in the United States, about 50 protesters were arrested Tuesday when they blocked access to the Senate cafeteria, calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza.

Today we continue with Part 2 of our conversation with two former Israeli soldiers, members of the group Breaking the Silence, an anti-occupation group led by veterans of the Israeli army, the group founded 20 years ago in the aftermath of the Second Intifada.

We’re joined by two members. Nadav Weiman is the group’s deputy director. He served in the West Bank and Gaza from 2005 to 2008. And Tal Sagi is the group’s education director. She served as a soldier in Hebron, one of the largest cities in the West Bank.

We welcome you both to Democracy Now! I wanted to ask you, Tal, about Hebron and about what it was like for you to go there. Hebron in Hebrew, al-Khalil in Arabic, has a few hundred Jewish settlers and 33,000 Palestinians living there. There’s streets that Palestinians can walk down, and there are streets that they can’t walk down, checkpoints everywhere. Can you describe your revelation when you got there, what you thought about the city and what you experienced and led you to Breaking the Silence?

TAL SAGI: So, I grew up in a settlement. I was really used to see separation around me from a young age. I used to see the soldiers patrolling my neighborhood 24/7 with military vehicles. I used to see the fences separating the settlement from the Palestinian villages around us. Separation wasn’t something that I asked questions about. It was normal. It was my day-to-day.

When I got to Hebron as a soldier in 2012, things there looked normal to me. I never asked any questions about the situation there. And my job there was to be a tour guide. As part of the job, I used to also work together with the settlers of Hebron, so we had that connection. And I learned from them a lot about the situation around me.

And it took me years to realize that the city is under military control. And I realized that only when I came back after my service, after a few years, with Breaking the Silence. And suddenly I saw the city as it is, as a huge Palestinian city, the second-largest Palestinian city in the West Bank, and the levels of separation and control that we have as military over that city. But it’s something that was totally invisible to me during my service. I thought it’s normal.

AMY GOODMAN: So, what was your turning point?

TAL SAGI: I think this tour was, for me, life-changing, because I realized that there are so many things that my parents, my teacher, the Israeli society never talked to me about, and that there is this gap between reality and what I see around me. And, like, I thought all of these things are normal. And I never thought about the separation as something that is oppressive. And it took me years to manage to see the Palestinian population and the cost that we and Palestinians are paying for this military control for so many years.

AMY GOODMAN: So, how have your family and community responded, in the settlement where you live, to your activism?

TAL SAGI: So, most of them are still nice to me. But it was pretty tough with my family at the beginning. We had a lot of arguments around this. And some of them are not agreeing to what I do. But today, most of them are pretty supportive. And we have also, like, really respectful conversation about the situation. But it’s not easy definitely after 7th of October, when I hear some voices around me in my family and my friends, and I want to say that the situation is not promoting security for us. What we’re doing in Gaza is not for a better future. It’s just taking us to a worse place. And when I hear what other people are saying around me, it’s really sad.

AMY GOODMAN: Nadav, you have been with Breaking the Silence for how long?

NADAV WEIMAN: Twelve years now.

AMY GOODMAN: And can you talk about how it’s grown?

NADAV WEIMAN: Yeah. So, when I joined the organization, it was seven employees. And now we’re about 30 employees. We, to this day, in a normal year, we do 700 education events a year. We bring about 18,000 people to the ground, to the West Bank, to the city of Hebron or to the South Hebron Hills area. We meet pre-military academies and youth movement and kibbutzes and high schools and open public and Jewish congregations. But we work also with diplomats and politicians and Israeli journalists and international journalists. We do a lot, a lot of things.

And the steady flow of testifiers continues all of the time. And during times like this, when we have war in Gaza, we even have more testifiers. In the last few weeks, we have two or three new testifiers each week. And the flow is going to get bigger and bigger, as we have more and more IDF reservists being released from active duty in the Gaza Strip. So, when we engage with the Israelis or with the international, we do basically the same thing: political education. We want to educate people how the occupation really works.

AMY GOODMAN: How many members do you have in Breaking the Silence?

NADAV WEIMAN: We have a little bit over 1,400 testifiers from all of the different units that serve in the West Bank and Gaza. We don’t collect testimonies from Shin Bet or the Intelligence Corps, because we don’t —

AMY GOODMAN: That’s military intelligence in Israel.

NADAV WEIMAN: Exactly. Because we don’t want to harm Israel’s security, right? We believe that the IDF should be with us and defend Israel, but to defend Israel, not to occupy the Palestinian people. That’s not defending Israel. That’s control.

AMY GOODMAN: So, in the first part of our discussion, you gave a very chilling description of what you would do in the West Bank and also when you were serving as a soldier in Gaza. I wanted to ask you about the +972/Local Call exposé by the Israeli journalist Yuval Abraham, who exposed how the Israeli military used an artificial intelligence program known as “Lavender” to develop a “kill list” in Gaza that includes as many as 37,000 Palestinians targeted for assassination with little human oversight. A second AI program, known as “Where’s Daddy?” tracked Palestinians on the kill list and was purposely designed to help Israel target individuals when they were at home at night with their families. This targeting systems, combined with an extremely permissive, so to speak, bombing policy in the Israeli military, led to, quote, “entire Palestinian families being wiped out inside their houses.” I probably don’t have to tell you this. So, I’m wondering if you can — did this surprise you? Did you use anything like this when you were in the military, or talk to testifiers or people within the military now who are doing this?

NADAV WEIMAN: Yeah. So, first of all, I’ve got to say that it’s one of the most important exposures by an Israeli journalist from the beginning of this war. The Israeli media, most of it, are not really being critical about what we do over there, and Yuval did an amazing work.

Now, our testifiers that came from Gaza didn’t talk about this yet. And when we will have testimonies in next couple weeks or months, we can talk extensively about that. But I can tell you that our former testifiers from former operations told us about the target bank, right? And those targets were supposed to get inside the target bank. Now, the target bank that the IDF has about Gaza, it is huge. It is huge. One of our testifiers from just now said to me that when you open the computer with the grid of all of the targets in Gaza, it takes the computer some minutes to upload everything, because, basically, every house in Gaza, it could be a target.

Now, we know from our testifiers that, for example, a house could be a target if there was an operation room of Hamas or they hid ammunition over there or there’s a tunnel. But also we know that Hamas is moving ammunition from house to house every time. But a house that was designated as a target of an ammunition depot, it will stay like that forever, even if the ammunition was moved. And if there’s 50 grenades or 50 missiles, it is the same target. And I think there’s a difference between 50 grenades and 50 missiles.

Another target that you have over there, it’s houses of Hamas operatives, their personal house. Now, you know, when I was a soldier, I don’t think my family was to blame of what I did. It’s what I did, right? And we don’t think civilians living close to Hamas operatives supposed to be hit in the middle of the night by an airstrike.

Another thing that we have over there, it’s government offices. It’s water facilities. It’s bridges and tunnels in everything that you and I consider the civilian infrastructure, that we see as legitimate — the IDF sees as legitimate military targets.

Now, if you combine all of this with what Yuval just published, you can understand why you have this amount of death toll, right? Over 12,000 Palestinian kids died, right? Thirty-three thousand Palestinians died. The IDF is talking about something like between 12,000 and 15,000 Hamas militants that we killed. And I’m not sure about those numbers. We have very important testimonies from 2014 war on Gaza, that the soldiers told us that they saw two females walking in an orchard 400 meters from IDF forces, and they were talking on the phone, and that’s why they were designated as spotters. The only option: to shoot from the air or from the ground at unarmed Palestinians. A drone was directed to them, shot and killed them both. And then the IDF sent two tanks. The tanks came, and they saw they were unarmed. But because we shot at them, they were listed as terrorists. And so, the amount of casualties that the IDF is talking about, I’m not sure about that number. But, for sure, we are harming civilians knowingly — I don’t know if intentionally, but, knowingly, we are killing a lot of civilians.

AMY GOODMAN: What’s the difference between knowingly and intentionally?

NADAV WEIMAN: Intentionally is when you fire a missile, and you want to kill 100 civilians to, I don’t know, make a point or something like that. But, for example, we have something that is called collateral damage, right? We have a certain commander in Hamas. So, you know that if you will shoot him, there would be five or 10 members of his family as collateral damage, and then the IDF sits down and think if it’s OK or not.

Now, what we know from our testifiers is that the equation that sees how many Palestinians are inside a certain house is not being changed when operation starts. We know in Jabaliya refugee camp, there are, I don’t know, this amount of people, and the apartment is 40 square meters, so there’s five people or, I don’t know, six people inside. But, as you said, we have millions of refugees now inside the Gaza Strip, so we don’t know how many people would be affected.

And in this operation, we saw collateral damage jump to numbers that we didn’t know. When we killed the Jabaliya regiment commander at the first couple of weeks of this war, according to international media, we killed 126 civilians with him. And that’s something that we never saw in former operation, and it’s considered to be a low-ranking target, the target that we used to attack with a lot of collateral damage.

AMY GOODMAN: And Yuval Abraham exposed that they didn’t want to take out Hamas operatives in their military buildings or in their offices, that they waited for them to go home at night, where there would be families that were killed.

NADAV WEIMAN: Yeah. We have testifier from the former operation that told us that the IDF doesn’t want them to have houses to come back to, and that’s why we are firing into civilian population or into their houses. But what Yuval described, it’s a different case. Right?

And I’ve got to say that the IDF also has all kinds of tools to make sure that we won’t have civilians inside the house. First of all, it’s what the IDF call “roof knocking,” when you throw a small bomb, a missile, but a small bomb, on the roof, and then Palestinians should understand that they should leave the house before the big bomb would come. Now, during in a war in Gaza, you have bombings all around. Another method is sending SMS, is sending messages or calling the families, telling them to leave. But that is only when the house is a target — right? — when the house is an ammos depot or something like that. But when there’s a human being inside the target, so you shoot, like Yuval described.

AMY GOODMAN: So, there was a group in World War II called the White Rose collective in Germany. They were Christians. They weren’t Jewish. Hans and Sophie Scholl, famous. He was a medical student. Her sister, Sophie, was an undergraduate. And they thought, “What can we do in the face of the Nazi atrocity?” And they decided just to get out information, so that Germans would never be able to say they didn’t know. How much do you think, Tal, Israeli society understands about what’s going on? I mean, even in the United States, even with Netanyahu preventing international journalists getting from Gaza, we see all sorts of images, even if it’s not on the networks, of casualties. What about Israel? We’re talking about 15 minutes away, 30 minutes away.

TAL SAGI: I think there are a few levels of not knowing. And, of course, there is the media, and in Israeli media, we don’t see the stories of the Palestinians. We don’t meet these stories. We don’t see the amount of casualties and the bodies. We don’t see these images. But there is also years of not knowing, and ignoring and indifference to the situation of the Palestinians, and the dehumanization that we have in our society because of the occupation.

And it’s the fact that we’re being told that they are only this enemy, and then, you know, October 7th happening. And we lost so many people, and people are hostages. And in the society, it’s like a shock, because, like, we used to ignore this situation, and suddenly these things happened. And we just want to be with ourselves. And that’s a human reaction, you know. We want to deal with our suffering, with our mourning, and make sure that, you know, we’re together and we support each other and we’re safe. And the reaction is like we don’t care about the reaction. And we don’t see what is the reaction, and we don’t want to see. Like —

AMY GOODMAN: Would any number change Israeli society? We’re talking about what we know, more than 33,000 people killed, 14,000 children, overwhelmingly civilian. Forty thousand? Fifty thousand? I mean, that may be the number, considering how many people are under the rubble. What would break through?

TAL SAGI: I don’t think people understand necessarily numbers. I think — I hear from people around me that they don’t have capacity to look to the suffering of Palestinians right now, because people are occupied with their suffering. And also, what we hear from the government all the time is winning, we want to win, and we want this total win. And people want to feel that, you know, we won, that we are safe, even though we know that we’re not changing anything.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, let me ask you, Nadav: What do you think Netanyahu wants to accomplish here? Just simply staying out of jail for corruption charges, and if he remains prime minister, he will? And if he goes against Ben-Gvir, the settlers, Ben-Gvir and Smotrich, they’ll leave him, and he won’t be protected by his prime ministership anymore?

NADAV WEIMAN: Yeah. So, when we started this war, it was a very justified war. But very quickly, it became a war without goals or a war to keeping Benjamin Netanyahu in his seat, because now, I’m sure you saw, in the last couple of months, there wasn’t really a war, right? There wasn’t really operations over there. And soldiers coming out said the same thing. I was in a protest in Tel Aviv. I saw a soldier holding a sign: “Why did I fight in Gaza for Benjamin Netanyahu?” That was the sign he held. And yes, it looks like our government is trying to stop any deal to release our hostages, the most important thing that we can do at the moment. And it’s because the extremists in the government — that it’s the government — are against it.

I am driving in the West Bank all of the time. And since the beginning of this war, in Tel Aviv, in Haifa, in Jerusalem, everywhere we see signs, the faces of the hostage Israelis. In every cafe in Tel Aviv, we have a yellow chair, right? Yellow color to remember our abducted Israelis. In the West Bank, you hardly see it, because they don’t believe in a deal. They think it’s collateral damage, our hostages. And Benjamin Netanyahu is bound to the extremists in his government, right? Because he knows that if there would be a deal and will release our citizens, they would get out of the government. And he wants to sit over there, because he has the trials. So he thinks about himself more than the citizens of Israel. And that’s why, for a lot of reasons, we need the U.S. government with us. Right? We need the U.S. government to pressure Israel to do so.

AMY GOODMAN: And what would it mean? How would they do it? How do you think it’s most effective to do that?

NADAV WEIMAN: Well, when I was a soldier, I had an M4. And it was engraved on my weapon, “Property of U.S. government.” The U.S. government has a lot of responsibility about the occupation, West Bank and Gaza, and about this war. And in the last few weeks, we saw very important steps of Biden, Joe Biden’s administration, first of all, imposing sanctions on violent settlers, and then putting very clear red lines to our government about entering humanitarian aid inside, or even attacks from the air after the killing of the seven World Central Kitchen employees.

But we need to see something a lot more immediate and a lot more powerful in front of the Israeli government, because ceasefire, it’s something that should happen months ago, not tomorrow, not two hours from now, months ago. And we want the government — you know, the most important country for Israel in the world is the U.S. government, because we really have shared values. And because of that, we want the Biden administration to help us to stop the war and release our hostages and immediately enter humanitarian aid into Gaza, because the starvation in Gaza, it could not be used as a weapon against Palestinians.

AMY GOODMAN: You both have been going to college campuses. You see the number of people who are speaking up for Palestinian rights — Muslim, Jewish, Christian. But there’s also a real crackdown on campus. Groups, like Jewish Voice for Peace, like Students for Justice in Palestine, are being banned across the country. What is your reaction to this? And have any of your events been canceled on campuses? Here you are, former Israeli soldiers.

NADAV WEIMAN: So, I believe that pro-Palestine or pro-Israel is the same thing, because, for me, pro-Israel is anti-occupation and pro-peace. Right? And of course everybody has a right to speak. And I think the conversation should be a diverse conversation. So, silencing voices that are against our war in Gaza, that’s not democratic at all. I heard from now — we met quite a few Jewish congregations over here in the States, and, yes, there is a new wave of antisemitism. I don’t want criticism against Israel would be actually antisemitism, right? Antisemitism, it’s something that we have to fight against. Our government, by the way, is not helping by labeling any criticism against Israel as antisemitism. That’s not right. And I think Tal can elaborate more about what happened in campuses. But again, we were very surprised by the very good reactions.

AMY GOODMAN: Tal, what about what’s happened?

TAL SAGI: So, none of our events got canceled, not that I know of. Like, everything happened as planned. And as Nadav said, the reactions were really good. A lot of people came. We met a few hundred of students. People were really curious, wanted to know, asked questions, asked about what the Israeli society are now — where the Israeli society are now. And it was really nice to see Jewish students sitting together with the pro-Palestinian students and having this conversation. And people thanked us at the end of the events.

And I hope that we managed to, you know, bring this complex message, that it’s not that you’re pro — like Nadav said, it’s not that you’re pro-Israel or pro-Palestine. It’s when you want to help really Palestinians, you have to stand together in solidarity with the Israelis who see the situation and who want to change the situation. And in that sense, the help that we need from students and from people all around the world is to see that there are voices who want to change these things inside the Israeli society, inside the Palestinian society, and these voices, we need to support the voices of solidarity.

AMY GOODMAN: You were both soldiers. Nadav, you’re talking about defending the IDF, the Israeli Defense Forces, defending Israelis. But knowing what you know, are you at all sympathetic to Palestinian resistance fighters, feeling they are doing exactly the same thing for Palestinians?

NADAV WEIMAN: Yeah, when I was a soldier — so, I finished training in 2006, and the first thing that we did, we were sent to Jenin, to the refugee camp in Jenin, for an operation. As a member of the special forces, you were waiting for things like that. But when we break down the door in the middle of the night, I found a family. I found kids. I found a grandmother and a grandfather and two parents inside the house. And very quickly, you start to understand that what you’re doing over there is, yes, you fight terror, in a very small portion of the time, but the majority of the time, you’re a police officer. You’re maintaining military law over Palestinians. And we arrested a lot of people that their crime was that they were cousins of somebody that we wanted. It’s called oressure arrests. Or we did mass arrests. Mass arrests, it’s to take the whole logic of arrest and put it on its head, because you come to a village, and you arrest everybody from 16 years old to 60 years old, and then you question all of them. And when you do that, all of the Palestinians, they look at you with a mixture of fear and hate. And I told myself, “Ah, yeah, they hate me because I’m Jewish,” right? And then, when I finished my army service and started thinking as a civilian, I understand that they hated me because I was an occupying soldier.

And when I joined Breaking the Silence, one of the first things that I did was to drive into Hebron and meet our Palestinian partner, drinking tea with him. And I was sitting with Issa Amro — he’s a very prominent human rights activist from Hebron — in his house. We were drinking tea. And I was looking. You know, where’s the door? Where’s the window? Like I was trained to do. And Issa told me, “Nadav, calm. We are friends. We are drinking tea together. We are talking.” We talked about football. It was very nice. And when you understand Palestinians are human beings just like me and you and have desires and hopes and dreams and families and all of that, you understand that they want freedom, just like me and you.

And, you know, I think about my grandfather and grandmother that fought the British for our independence. And I think, yes, there is a legitimate fight between armed men or women — right? — with uniform or not, but armed. Civilians are out of the way, right? We are not supposed to harm civilians. My unit commander in the special forces told us, “Listen, stabbing an Israeli soldier is a terror attack — it’s an attack. Stabbing an Israeli citizen, a settler, that’s a terror attack. Doesn’t matter what happened. We have to protect Israelis and fight them. Right? You have a weapon on you. You have to fight.” And he was an extreme right-wing settler, by the way, and he explained to me what is terror and what is not terror. And I think that’s what we need to put when we look at now this war in Gaza. Maybe — not maybe — it’s very clear that we can attack Hamas, that are kidnapping and firing at us, yes. But civilians are out of the question, period.

AMY GOODMAN: Nadav, there have been over 8,000 arrests of Palestinians in the West Bank only since October 7th. Is that to get this massive number, so when there’s a prisoner exchange, they have many people that they’re willing to exchange?

NADAV WEIMAN: Could be, but usually when we have operation in Gaza or operation in the West Bank, and all of the eyes of the world is on Gaza, on the West Bank, the IDF uses the other territory to do a lot of things, like mass arrest, shooting, and all of that.

But you have something very different in the IDF since October 7th. After October 7th, all of the on-duty soldiers, 19-, 20-year-old soldiers, were sent down to the south to fight Hamas or up to the north to fight Hezbollah, and the regular reserve units, the same. So, the IDF use a special reserve unit. It’s called the Ha Gamar in Hebrew, or “regional defense” in English, which means that settlers are doing the reserve duty in their settlements. OK? So, we have very ideological settlers — some of them believe in Jewish supremacy — that now have IDF uniform and a weapon. And they man the checkpoints. They enter Palestinian homes and all of that. And we saw an increased violence from IDF soldiers towards Palestinians since October 7th. And it’s settlers with IDF uniform. And that’s why the Israeli government said, “Listen, since October 7th, we have a decrease in settler violence.” And it’s true, because now they have uniform.

And I drive around with diplomats or with journalists in the West Bank in the last couple of months. And you get stopped in the middle of a street by soldiers. But some of them have half-uniform, only a shirt, only pants, only vest. And you don’t know if it’s settlers or if it’s settlers in the army or it’s — everything is very unclear. And that leads to a lot of violence. We have a lot of videos in recent months. You see IDF soldiers entering Palestinian villages, or even cave dwellers’ villages in the South Hebron Hills area, saying that they came to find lost sheeps of a settler herd or something like that, and a lot of violence. And also, we see settlers taking bulldozers, blocking Palestinian villages with stones and rubber, because they can. Right? So, the —

AMY GOODMAN: Because all the attention is on Gaza?

NADAV WEIMAN: Exactly, exactly. And then what happened? One of those settlers that has a bulldozer is Yinon Levi. And he was the first settler that the U.S. government imposed sanctions on him. Right? And why he got sanctioned on his head? Because there wasn’t any investigation against him by Judea and Samaria police or by the Israeli army — right? — because we didn’t do anything in front of those settlers.

AMY GOODMAN: And what is the feeling toward Smotrich and Ben-Gvir, Tal, these extremist Jewish settlers from the West Bank?

TAL SAGI: I think it’s mixed, because there are a lot of criticism now against the government, because they’re not doing enough in order to bring back the hostages. And the protests are growing and growing every week. So, people are not very happy with them dealing, saying all these things like “resettle Gaza,” dealing with take more money from the budget, from the government, to the settlements, and not helping the families of the hostages and taking care of people who have no home since 7th of October. But there are some sectors in the society that are supporting these ideologies and supporting the idea of going back to settle in Gaza. And people also are talking about transferring all Palestinians out of Gaza. And things that I hear from people around me, these ideas are popular in some sectors of the Israeli society.

AMY GOODMAN: And the effect on settlers, like you’re from a settlement, when they hear about sanctioning of settlers by governments like the United States?

TAL SAGI: So, I think some of them are worried that it will get to them. And we see the reaction also in the government. Immediately after the sanctions, they did this committee talking about activists who are documenting this violence, and talking about them as anarchists, trying to prevent them from documenting the violence.

AMY GOODMAN: These are Israeli — 

TAL SAGI: Israeli.

AMY GOODMAN: — Jewish, what they call anarchists —

TAL SAGI: Anarchist, yeah.

AMY GOODMAN: — activists, who are going into the West Bank to document what the settlers are doing.

TAL SAGI: Together with the Palestinian activists on ground, yeah. And we also see that they are trying to hide the violence. I was, few weeks ago, in Hebron, and the police and the soldiers didn’t allow us to go into the city. And then I realized that settlers were protesting outside of the mosque, trying to prevent prayers to go to pray inside the mosque in the first Friday of Ramadan. And the fact that they didn’t allow us to go in was like — after that, I realized it was really clear they didn’t want us to document the protest. And actually, most of — like, we didn’t — we almost don’t have any documentation of that. And they managed to prevent prayers to go into the mosque and pray in the first Friday of Ramadan. And there is no documentation. They block every activist who are trying to go there and document this violence.

AMY GOODMAN: Would you say, Nadav, that what we’re seeing on the West Bank and Gaza is apartheid, as Yuval Abraham said in his speech when he won best documentary as part of an Israeli-Palestinian collective for the film No Other Land, talked about the system of apartheid that Palestinians live under in Israel and the Occupied Territories?

NADAV WEIMAN: So, as a soldier, they taught me that I’m not allowed to touch settlers. If I see a violent settler cutting down olive trees, burning a mosque, beating Palestinians, I’m not allowed. The only one who can do so are police, Judea and Samaria police. It’s not even the Israeli police, because that’s their jurisdiction over there. But there is the military law, that I have to enforce on Palestinians all of the time, that I can arrest, I can shoot, I can detain, I can do whatever I want.

Very quickly, I understand that there are two separate law systems in the West Bank: the Israeli law system for Israelis and the military law system for Palestinians, in the same piece of land, with human beings with two nostrils, two eyes, two hearts — one heart and all of that, but it matters only your nationality. Based on your nationality, this would be the law enforcements on you. And, yes, there’s a name for that, right? And that’s why, by the way, the right wing and the settler movement, they want to annex the West Bank into Israel, because if they will do that, then Israel would be an apartheid state. That maybe will — committing the crime of apartheid in the West Bank. But if they will annex, it will be an apartheid state, and that has international repercussions for that.

AMY GOODMAN: But would you say it’s apartheid right now?

NADAV WEIMAN: What is happening with the two separate law system?

AMY GOODMAN: Yes.

NADAV WEIMAN: Mm-hmm.

AMY GOODMAN: I want to thank you both for being with us. You’re headed to the Canadian Parliament, to Canada?

NADAV WEIMAN: Yeah.

AMY GOODMAN: Are you going to address the Canadian Parliament?

NADAV WEIMAN: No, we’re going to meet Jewish congregations in Canada, and we’ll have some meetings in the Parliament, because we want to convey our messages about how the IDF fights in Gaza to every important actor around the world.

AMY GOODMAN: I want to thank you both. Nadav Weiman is the deputy director of Breaking the Silence. And I want to thank, as well, Tal Sagi, education director of Breaking the Silence, an Israeli anti-occupation group of former soldiers. They’re here in the United States. To see Part 1 of our discussion, go to democracynow.org. I’m Amy Goodman. Thanks for joining us.

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