A former Israeli soldier has described how IDF troops do not view Palestinians as “human beings” but instead as individuals with “the potential to be terrorists.”
Nadav Bigelman, who served as a combat solider in the Israeli Defence Force between 2007 and 2010, made the remarks as footage emerged appearing to show IDF troops arresting a young disabled Palestinian child two weeks ago.
“After a while you stop looking at people as people, you stop looking at children as children, you stop looking at teenagers as teenagers, you look at them just as Palestinians, as people who are always the potential to be terrorists,” he said to Russian Today.
“Unfortunately in many ways it [the recent video of the arrest of a child] did not surprise me.” Mr Bigelman, a member of Israeli army veterans’ group Breaking The Silence, also claimed that during his combat experience he too performed “several” similar-such arrests.
Earlier this year the Euro-Mid Observer for Human Rights, an non-profit and non-governmental organisation based in Geneva, released figures showing around 2,500 Palestinian children and youth had been arrested between January 2010 and June 2014.
The organisation also noted that approximately 400 were just 12 to 15 years-old.
Mr Bigelman said: “It doesn’t matter if he is eight years old or 25-years-old or fifty or sixty the orders that we got were very very clear”.
The former soldier claimed he was not speaking out against the IDF, rather “I am representing here a group about 950 soldiers [Breaking The Silence organisation] that served either in the Gaza troop or the West Bank.
In pictures: Israeli/Palestinian clashes
In pictures: Israeli/Palestinian clashes
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Israeli security and a Palestinian stone thrower clash in the Shuafat neighborhood in Israeli-annexed Arab East Jerusalem
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A Palestinian protestor directs fireworks toward Israeli police during clashes in Shuafat neighborhood in Israeli-annexed Arab East Jerusalem
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An Israeli police officer during clashes with Palestinians in Jerusalem
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Masked Palestinian protestors take cover as they throw stones toward Israeli police during clashes in Shuafat neighborhood in Israeli-annexed Arab East Jerusalem
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Israeli army soldiers take positions during clashes with Palestinians in an early morning in the West Bank city of Jenin
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Palestinians set tyres ablaze during clashes with Israeli police in Shuafat, an Arab suburb of Jerusalem July 2, 2014.
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A Palestinian argues with Israeli border police in Jerusalem on Wednesday, July 2, 2014.
8/10 Israeli/Palestinian clashes
Palestinian protestors gather behind a barrier as they throw stones toward Israeli police during clashes in the Shuafat neighborhood in Israeli-annexed Arab East Jerusalem, on July 2, 2014, after a Palestinian teenager was kidnapped and killed in an apparent act of revenge for the murder by militants of three Israeli youths.
AHMAD GHARABLI/AFP/Getty Images
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Palestinian youths clash with Israeli Police near to the house of murdered Palestinian teenager Mohammed Abu Khdair, in Jerusalem on July 2, 2014 in Jerusalem, Israel.
Ilia Yefimovich/Getty Images
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Masked Palestinian protesters throw stones toward Israeli police during clashes in the Shuafat neighborhood in Israeli-annexed Arab East Jerusalem
“What we are saying is that the problem in many ways is not the army, the problem is what the army is sent to do and that is to control about four million people under a military regime. We have been doing it for almost 50 years.”
He continued: “You cannot control people without force, you cannot take people’s liberty and freedom without them resisting you and then arresting them, and then we can see images and videos just like we have seen in the last few days.”
Mr Bigelman claims the presence of cameras could change attitudes for the better. “I would say that when I was a soldier you think twice what you do [when there is a camera present] and I think it is the most important non-violent tool that Palestinians have for fighting the occupation.”