Violeta Moura First Sergeant Nadav Weiman, Nachal Brigade Reconnaissance Unit, Jenin [Palestinian Territories, West Bank], poses for a photo with a sniper rifle during his military service.
Violeta Moura Nadav poses for a portrait at the laundry facilities of a shelter for adolescents in Tel Aviv where he works as a youth counselor.
Violeta Moura First Sergeant Avihai Stollar, Lavi Infantry Battalion at night patrol at the height of the Second Intifada.
Violeta Moura Avihai gives an interview to a television channel from Tel Aviv. For the last seven years Avihai, led a research team made up of anti-occupation combat veterans. Avihai is planning to move abroad to pursue a career in international Human Rights investigations.
Violeta Moura First Sergeant Nadav Bigelman, Nahal Infantry Brigade, 50th Battalion, during his patrol at the Abu Sneina neighborhood of Hebron.
Violeta Moura Nadav poses for a portrait on the blacony of his student apartment in the northern city of Haifa where he completed his graduate studies in history.
Violeta Moura First Sergeant Yoni Levy, Givati Brigade Engineering Unit is seen in his barracks during his military service.
Violeta Moura Yoni poses for a portrait on the rooftop of his home in Jerusalem. Yoni has moved to the United States to pursue an M.A. in Human Rights.
Violeta Moura A photo taken by First Sergeant Sagi Tal, 50th battalion Nahal Brigade, shows an M4 and a grenade launcher. He didn't keep many photos of himself during his army service, preferring instead to document the details of his surroundings.
Violeta Moura Sagi rehearses in one of the studios of the Acting School of Seminar Hakibutzim in Tel aviv where he is studying to become an actor.
Violeta Moura A painting by Sergeant Jana Schmidt, Nachshon Infantry Battalion during her army service. It is one of the few things she kept from her time as a soldier. She destroyed all the photographs of herself during her military service. The painting is titled "Ghosts."
Violeta Moura Jana poses for a portrait at a classroom in a Central Tel Aviv high school where she teaches Art to Israeli and disadvantaged migrant students.
Violeta Moura Sergeant Yael Lotan, Army Scout, is seen on an APC during her army service.
Violeta Moura Yael is seen calling her pet cat Nushi in her garden in Tel Aviv.
Avner Gvaryahu First Sergeant Avner Gvaryahu’s Unit, Paratroopers Brigade Anti-Tank Unit, is seen in the kitchen of a Palestinian home during combat.
Violeta Moura Avner is seen in the kitchen of his home in Tel Aviv. Avner has since moved with his wife to the United States to pursue an M.A. in Human Rights at Columbia University.
Shay Davidovich First Sergeant Shay Davidovich, Field Intelligence Unit, during his military training.
Violeta Moura Shay poses for a portrait in an abandoned army trench in a military lookout post set up in the outskirts of the Israeli settlement of Ariel, where Shay grew up.

Israeli Soldiers Break Their Silence

By Violeta Moura

When Avihai Stollar was 19, he served as a first seargent in the Israeli military. He was sent to watch over Palestinians during the first four years of the Second Intifada, which lasted from 2000-05. Reflecting on the recent stabbings of Israelis by Palestinian youths, he told me, "some from this generation of Palestinian youths, who have been engaging in violence over the last few weeks, are the same 7-year-old kids in front of whom their daddy was humiliated by us when we were soldiers 13 years ago.”

Stollar is one of a minority of Israeli soldiers who are deployed in combat positions to the West Bank and Gaza. In the last few years, he and a group of Israeli combat veterans, who call themselves "Breaking the Silence," have spoken out against the occupation. They entered compulsory military service at 18 believing that they were serving and protecting their country. But, as they explained to me, they soon found that their mission was very different, and possibly even illegal. It was, as they told me, to “perpetuate control over the Palestinians territories and its civilian population."

Since ending their military service, the veterans of "Breaking the Silence" have fought to end Israel's military occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. To achieve this, they have spent more than a decade collecting hundreds of testimonies from soldiers who served in the occupied Palestinian Territories. They hope to shed light on “the inevitable moral degradation involved in maintaining control over all aspects of a civilian population”: life, death, and everything inbetween.
 
Unsurprisingly, the group has been sharply criticized and even threatened. To protect the identities of those who speak out, the group shares the testimonies anonymously. But that, in turn, has elicited accusations that the stories are fabricated, even though the group says it uses a rigorous investigative method to corrobate all claims.
 
This photo series shows a few, who in defiance, have decided to give their words a face.
 
VIOLETA MOURA is a photojournalist from Portugal. Her work includes photo essays and written pieces on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, as well as of Portugal's economic crisis.

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