'Breaking the Silence' on West Bank Abuse
But the soldiers aim some of their starkest criticism at the Jewish settlers who live in central Hebron, closer to Palestinian neighborhoods than any other settlement in the West Bank.
"The settlers whom we were meant to protect rioted, occupied houses and confronted the police and army both physically and verbally," the soldiers wrote in their letter to visitors.
"Whatever is done in the name of religion is allowed," a soldier says on the videotape. "To break into shops, that is allowed. As a soldier I really felt a problem because I came from a family that has values, morals."
Photographs that appeared benign took on an ominous edge when organizers described the events preceding or following the snap of the shutter.
In one such photo, a smiling, red-bearded settler grips a gun in one hand and guitar in the other. The guitar is plastered with stickers. One reads, "Either us or them. Arab enemy." A uniformed soldier holds his own rifle as though it were a guitar and grins for the camera.
Giora Salmi, director of the Academy for Geographic Photography, explained that on his way to play the guitar for the soldiers, the settler shot out the tires of several Palestinians' cars.
Salmi said thousands of people have visited the exhibit, including numerous soldiers and their families.
The photographs also illustrate a soldier's view of war: the cityscape as seen through a bullet hole in a window; a young Palestinian man captured in the crosshairs of a sniper rifle as he feeds his pigeons on a rooftop; Palestinian schoolchildren seen through the anti-grenade grill on the window of an army jeep.
On Wednesday, Liat Mor, 18, who will begin her mandatory army service next year, stood transfixed before the photos. "It's pretty shocking," she said. "You know it's a different universe. That's why I'm here -- to get prepared."
She scrutinized a close-up of a blindfolded Palestinian man. "I don't think it will help," she said.
© 2004 The Washington Post Company