A resurfaced interview with an ex-Israeli soldier has sparked discussion on Reddit amid the ongoing conflict in Israel and Palestine.
The clip shows a former Israeli soldier, Eran Efrati, explaining why he became disillusioned with the Israeli military and their relationship with Palestinians. In the video, he states that his role in the Israeli military led him to feel that he was a “terrorist” and that his job “was literally to scare people so they cannot think about acting against the Israeli settlers or the Israeli military.”
This video was shared to the subreddit r/TikTokCringe, posted originally on the TikTok account 2empirefiles, where it quickly garnered nearly 5,000 upvotes. A transcription of the clip can be found below.
“These Jewish settlers that live in Hebron are living under the same rights that I live in Jerusalem, but the Palestinian next to them—next house over, next building over, sometimes next apartment over—lives under my rule, my military rule, and I can do whatever I want with him,” Efrati says. “I can take his home as a temporary base for a few hours, to a few days, to a few weeks. I can decide that I’m arresting the people of the house and tie them up to the fence of my base.”
“If we will get an order to demolish their home or just lock their front door and don’t let them out into the street their house is on— a street that only Jewish settlers can walk on, and Palestinians cannot, so they have to walk through windows to yards into the other side into the casbah of Hebron,” he continues.
“I think realizing all of that in a very, very early stage in my service helped me [understand] that someone was lying to me along the way,” he states. “I didn’t feel like I’m protecting anyone. I didn’t feel like I’m helping anyone feeling more safe. I feel like I’m terrorizing people. I feel like, for the first time in my life, the boundaries between good and bad that I learned as a kid—and obviously I learned that I’m on the good side—was broken. I felt like I am the terrorist, and my job was literally to scare people so they cannot think about acting against the Israeli settlers or the Israeli military. That was actually our defined mission, to make sure that—to instill fear in the hearts of Palestinians in Hebron, and that’s exactly what we did.”
The clip in question is from journalist and documentarian Abby Martin’s series Empire Files, in an episode titled “Israeli Army Vet’s Exposé – ‘I Was the Terrorist.’” The section shown in the video begins at 6 minutes and 27 seconds.
While Efrati is a former member of the Israeli military, he is currently the Director of Campaigns and Partnership for Jewish Voice for Peace, which describes itself as “Jews organizing toward Palestinian liberation and Judaism beyond Zionism.”
Although Efrati does not cite specifics, there are recorded incidents similar to some of those that he describes in the aforementioned clip.
In July of this year, Al-Jazeera published an article detailing how Palestinian homes in Jenin were used as bases by Israeli soldiers. The article alleges that residents were given 10 minutes to leave their homes; when they returned, some of their houses had significant damage, including being covered in debris, having holes drilled into their walls, and more. Israel generally says that it is not required to compensate residents for damages incurred as a part of “warfare activity.”
As far as demolitions are concerned, Israel has a recorded history of demolishing homes, with the Israeli settlement opposition group “Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions” alleging that over 55,000 Palestinian properties have been demolished since 1967.
The State of Israel says that it demolishes Palestinian homes for several reasons. In some cases, Israel says that it is destroying homes because they violate the country’s building codes. In other cases, home destructions are done punitively against those who are suspected of having a history of violence against Israelis or the state of Israel.
Proponents of the policy of home destruction will say that this is done to ensure safety, both of buildings and of Israelis. They also cite data that purports to show a correlation between home destruction and a decrease in suicide attacks.
Critics of this policy claim that punitive home destruction is a form of “collective punishment,” which is illegal under international law, and that the actual efficacy of the policy is an open question. Critics also allege that the destruction of homes that violate building codes is done selectively to “Judaize” certain areas.
On Reddit, users expressed their conflicted feelings about videos and stories like the ones shared by Efrati.
“It’s crazy that we have to bring all these videos back just to show the complexity of this conflict. I hope the youth learns and take an active stance in this,” wrote one Redditor. “I don’t even feel it’s important to teach them who to stand behind or against. Just watch and read and sharpen your critical thinking while doing so. The material will speak for itself.”
The Daily Dot reached out to Eran Efrati via email.