Thursday, March 19, 2009

More Gaza Allegations

I was notoriously ambivalent toward Israel's decision to engage in military operations in Gaza, but more and more accounts are emerging suggesting that IDF soldiers committed war crimes while there:
"During Operation Cast Lead, Israeli forces killed Palestinian civilians under permissive rules of engagement and intentionally destroyed their property, say soldiers who fought in the offensive.

"The soldiers are graduates of the Yitzhak Rabin pre-military preparatory course at Oranim Academic College in Tivon. Some of their statements made on Feb. 13 will appear Thursday and Friday in Haaretz. Dozens of graduates of the course who took part in the discussion fought in the Gaza operation.

"The speakers included combat pilots and infantry soldiers. Their testimony runs counter to the Israel Defense Forces' claims that Israeli troops observed a high level of moral behavior during the operation. The session's transcript was published this week in the newsletter for the course's graduates."

Underlying the alleged actions seems to be the sharp anti-Arab bigotry which is spreading in Israeli society:
"The squad leader said he argued with his commander over the permissive rules of engagement that allowed the clearing out of houses by shooting without warning the residents beforehand. After the orders were changed, the squad leader's soldiers complained that 'we should kill everyone there [in the center of Gaza]. Everyone there is a terrorist.'

"The squad leader said: 'You do not get the impression from the officers that there is any logic to it, but they won't say anything. To write 'death to the Arabs' on the walls, to take family pictures and spit on them, just because you can. I think this is the main thing: To understand how much the IDF has fallen in the realm of ethics, really. It's what I'll remember the most.'"

(Crossposted to American Footprints)

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