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Israel Dirty Secrets in Gaza War

Israel Dirty Secrets in Gaza War
05-05-2009,14:00

 

Al Qassam English Website - On March 20, 2009, Israel was confronting a major challenge over the conduct of its 22-day military attack on Gaza after testimonies by its own soldiers revealed that troops were allowed and, in some cases, even ordered to shoot unarmed Palestinian civilians.

 

The testimonies the first of their kind to emerge from inside the military are at marked variance with official claims that the military made strenuous efforts to avoid civilian casualties and tend to corroborate Palestinian accusations that troops used indiscriminate and disproportionate firepower in civilian areas during the attack.

 

 In one of the testimonies shedding harsh new light on what the soldiers say were the permissive rules of engagement for "Operation Cast Lead", one soldier describes how an officer ordered the shooting of an elderly woman 100 meters from a house commandeered by troops.

 

Another soldier, describing how a mother and her children were shot dead by a sniper after they turned the wrong way out of a house, says the "atmosphere" among troops was that the lives of Palestinians were "very, very less important than the lives of our soldiers".

 

A squad leader said: "At the beginning the directive was to enter a house with an armored vehicle, to break the door down, to start shooting inside and I call it murder to shoot at everyone we identify. In the beginning I asked myself how this could make sense. Higher-ups said it is permissible because everyone left in the city [Gaza City] is culpable because they didn't run away."

 

In one account, an infantry squad leader describes how troops released a family who had been held in a room of their house for several days. He said: "The platoon commander let the family go and told them to go to the right. One mother and her two children didn't understand and went to the left, but they forgot to tell the sharpshooter on the roof they had let them go and it was okay... The sharpshooter saw a woman and children approaching him. He shot them straight away.

 

I don't think he felt too bad about it, because, as far as he was concerned, he did his job according to the orders he was given. And the atmosphere in general, from what I understood from most of my men who I talked to, the lives of Palestinians, let's say, is something very, very less important than the lives of our soldiers."

 

A second squad leader, who described the killing of the elderly woman, says he argued with his commander over loose rules of engagement that allowed the clearing out of houses by shooting without warning residents beforehand.

 

After the orders were changed, soldiers had complained that "we should kill everyone there [in the centre of Gaza]. Everyone there is a terrorist." The squad leader said: "To write 'death to the Arabs' on 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 OF has fallen in the realm of ethics."

Clear Testimonies from Soldiers

Squad leader Aviv

 

"At the beginning the directive was to enter a house with an armored vehicle, to break the door down, to start shooting inside and to ascend floor by floor and I call it murder to go from floor to floor and to shoot at everyone we identify.

 

In the beginning I asked myself how this could make sense. Higher-ups said it is permissible because everyone left in the city [Gaza City] is culpable because they didn't run away. This frightened me a bit. I tried to influence it as much as possible, despite my low rank, to change it. In the end the directive was to go into a house, switch on loudspeakers and tell them 'you have five minutes to run away and whoever doesn't will be killed'.

 

Soldier Ram

 

"There was an order to free the [confined] families. The platoon commander set free the family and told them to turn right. A mother and two children didn't understand and turned left. [Officers] had forgotten to tell the sniper on the roof that they were being set free and that everything was okay and he should hold fire.

 

You can say that he acted as he was supposed to, in accordance with the orders. The sniper saw a woman and children approaching him, past lines that no one was to be allowed to cross. He fired directly at them. I don't know if he fired at their legs but in the end he killed them."