Israeli soldiers on Gaza war


This video from Israel is called mass demonstration against the war in Gaza Tel Aviv-Yaffa 17-1-2009.

From British daily The Independent:

Israel’s dirty secrets in Gaza

Army veterans reveal how they gunned down innocent Palestinian families and destroyed homes and farms

By Donald Macintyre in Jerusalem

Friday, 20 March 2009

Israel was last night confronting a major challenge over the conduct of its 22-day military offensive in 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 operation. 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 metres 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 armoured 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 could this make sense? Higher-ups said it is permissible because everyone left in the city [Gaza City] is culpable because they didn’t run away.”

The accounts, which also describe apparently indiscriminate destruction of property, were given at a post-operation discussion by graduates of the Yitzhak Rabin pre-military course at the Oranim Academic College in northern Israel. The transcript of the session in front of the head of the course – details from which were published by the newspaper Haaretz – prompted the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) military advocate general Avichai Mendelblit yesterday to announce a military police investigation into the claims. Haaretz said the airing of the “dirty secrets” would make it more difficult for Israelis to dismiss the claims as Palestinian propaganda. The course principal, Danny Zamir, told the newspaper that after being “shocked” by the testimonies on 13 February he told the IDF chief of staff Gabi Ashkenazi he “feared a serious moral failure” in the IDF.

See also here. And here.

Israeli troops detail Gaza atrocities as demand grows for war crimes probe: here.

Many Israeli troops had the sense of fighting a “religious war” against Gentiles during the 22-day offensive in Gaza, according to a soldier who has highlighted the martial role of military rabbis during the operation: here. Israeli religious soldiers against women singing: here.

7 thoughts on “Israeli soldiers on Gaza war

  1. ICAHD CALLS FOR AN IMMEDIATE HALT TO ISRAEL’S POLICY OF HOME DEMOLITIONS

    March 17, 2009

    One can only describe Israel’s obsession with demolishing Palestinian homes in light of the exclusive Jewish claim to the entire Land of Israel harking back a century or more. It is not a policy specific to any particular time or place, nor is it confined to the Occupied Territories. In 1948 and for years after, Israeli governments systematically demolished more than 500 entire villages, towns, urban centers and neighborhoods, both to prevent the return of the Palestinian refugees and to take their lands and properties. Since the Occupation began in 1967, another 24,000 Palestinian homes have been demolished, including 4000 in the latest attack on Gaza. And in 2004, the Israeli government announced the establishment of a Demolition Administration within the Ministry of Interior; targeted for destruction are 20-40,000 homes of Israeli (Arab) citizens classified as “unrecognized villages.” (One Bedouin village in the Negev, al Twazil, has been demolished 18 times.)

    It must be stressed that Israel has never explained or justified its long-standing practice of demolishing Palestinian homes by security. For the most part it has offered no explanations at all, treating the phenomenon as a purely internal matter. Occasionally it justifies the wholesale destruction of homes in military operations as “collateral damage.” According to Ha’aretz (15.2.09), “Israel Defense Forces investigations into last month’s offensive in the Gaza Strip indicate the army could face significant difficulties justifying the scale of destruction of civilian homes during the fighting. A military source involved in the investigation told Haaretz, “It’s clear to us that in a small portion of the combat sectors immeasurable damage was caused, and that is very difficult to justify from a legal perspective, particularly if such justifications are called for in legal proceedings with international organizations.” As for the thousands of homes demolished due to a lack of building permits, which Israel justifies on a legal basis, it neglects to say that its explicit policy since 1967 has been to deny permits to Palestinians, or to restrict them severely.

    When one surveys the consequences of Israel’s house demolition policy from 1948 until the present, the conclusion is inescapable: a systematic and ongoing campaign is being waged to either rid the country of its Palestinian population or, failing that, to confine the remaining Palestinians to tiny, delimited, disconnected and impoverished enclaves, in Israel as well as in the Occupied Territories.

    At this very moment, together with the “routine” demolitions that are the Palestinians’ daily fare, 88 homes in the Silwan neighborhood of Jerusalem – the entire al Bustan quarter – are threatened with immediate destruction, as are two apartment buildings housing 34 families in the adjacent al Abbasiyya quarter. House demolitions in occupied East Jerusalem are illegal under international law, serve no obvious purpose, have severe humanitarian effects and fuel bitterness and extremism. They also violate the first phase of the Road Map. The Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD) calls on the international community to enforce its stated opposition to this cruel policy and end it immediately.

    The Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions is based in Jerusalem and has chapters in the United Kingdom and the United States.

    Please visit our websites:
    http://www.icahd.org
    http://www.icahduk.org
    http://www.icahdusa.org

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  2. Uri Avnery
    21.03.09

    A Judicial Document

    THE MOST important sentence written in Israel this week was lost in the general tumult of exciting events.

    Really exciting: In a final act of villainy, typical of his whole tenure as Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert abandoned the captive soldier, Gilad Shalit.

    Ehud Barak decided that the Labor Party must join the ultra-right government, which includes outright fascists.

    And this, too: the former President of Israel was officially indicted for rape.

    In this cacophony, who would pay any attention to a sentence written by lawyers in a document submitted to the Supreme Court?

    THE JUDICIAL debate concerns one of the most revolting laws ever enacted in Israel.

    It says that the wife of an Israeli citizen is not allowed to join him in Israel if she is living in the occupied Palestinian territories or in a “hostile” Arab country.

    The Arab citizens of Israel belong to Hamulas (clans) which extend beyond the borders of the state. Arabs generally marry within the Hamula. This is an ancient custom, deeply rooted in their culture, probably originating in the desire to keep the family property together. In the Bible, Isaac married his cousin, Rebecca.

    The “Green Line”, which was fixed arbitrarily by the events of the 1948 war, divides families. One village found itself in Israel, the next remained outside the new state, the Hamula lives in both. The Nakba also created a large Palestinian Diaspora.

    A male Arab citizen in Israel who desires to marry a woman of his Hamula will often find her in the West Bank or in a refugee camp in Lebanon or Syria. The woman will generally join her husband and be taken in by his family. In theory, her husband could join her in Ramallah, but the standard of living there is much lower, and all his life ? family, work, studies ? is centered in Israel. Because of the large difference in the standard of living, a man in the occupied territories who marries a woman in Israel will also usually join her and receive Israeli citizenship, leaving behind his former life.

    It is hard to know how many Palestinians, male and female, have come to Israel during the 41 years of occupation and become Israeli citizens this way. One government office speaks of twenty thousand, another of more than a hundred thousand. Whatever the number, the Knesset has enacted an (officially “temporary”) law to put an end to this movement.

    As usual with us, the pretext was security. After all, the Arabs who are naturalized in Israel could be “terrorists”. True, no statistics have ever been published about such cases ? if there are any ? but since when did a “security” assertion need evidence to prove it?

    Behind the security argument there lurks, of course, a demographic demon. The Arabs now constitute about 20% of Israel?s citizens. If the country were to be swamped by a flood of Arab brides and bridegrooms, this percentage might rise to ? God forbid! ? 22%. How would the “Jewish State” look then?

    The matter came before the Supreme Court, The petitioners, Jews and Arabs, argued that this measure contradicts our Basic Laws (our substitute for a nonexistent constitution) which guarantee the equality of all citizens. The answer of the Ministry of Justice lawyers let the cat out of the bag. It asserts, for the first time, in unequivocal language, that:

    “The State of Israel is at war with the Palestinian people, people against people, collective against collective.”

    ONE SHOULD read this sentence several times to appreciate its full impact. This is not a phrase escaping from the mouth of a campaigning politician and disappearing with his breath, but a sentence written by cautious lawyers carefully weighing every letter.

    If we are at war with “the Palestinian people”, this means that every Palestinian, wherever he or she may be, is an enemy. That includes the inhabitants of the occupied territories, the refugees scattered throughout the world as well as the Arab citizens of Israel proper. A mason in Taibeh, Israel, a farmer near Nablus in the West Bank, a policeman of the Palestinian Authority in Jenin, a Hamas fighter in Gaza, a girl in a school in the Mia Mia refugee camp near Sidon, Lebanon, a naturalized American shopkeeper in New York ? “collective against collective”.

    Of course, the lawyers did not invent this principle. It has been accepted for a long time in daily life, and all arms of the government act accordingly. The army averts its eyes when an “illegal” outpost is established in the West Bank on the land of Palestinians, and sends soldiers to protect the invaders. Israeli courts customarily impose harsher sentences on Arab defendants than on Jews guilty of the same offense. The soldiers of an army unit order T-shirts showing a pregnant Arab woman with a rifle trained on her belly and the words “1 shot, 2 kills” (as exposed in Haaretz this week).

    THESE ANONYMOUS lawyers should perhaps be thanked for daring to formulate in a judicial document the reality that had previously been hidden in a thousand different ways.

    The simple reality is that 127 years after the beginning of the first Jewish wave of immigration, 112 years after the founding of the Zionist movement, 61 years after the establishment of the State of Israel, 41 years after the beginning of the occupation, the Israeli-Palestinian war continues along all the front lines with undiminished vigor.

    The inherent aim of the Zionist enterprise was and is to turn the country ? at least up to the Jordan River ? into a homogeneous Jewish state. Throughout the course of Zionist-Israeli history, this aim has not been forsaken for a moment. Every cell of the Israeli organism contains this genetic code and therefore acts accordingly, without the need for a specific directive.

    In my mind I see this process as the urge of a river to reach the sea. A river yearning for the sea does not recognize any law, except for the law of gravity. If the terrain allows it, it will flow in a straight course, if not ? it will cut a new riverbed, twist like a snake, turn right and left, go around obstacles. If necessary, it will split into rivulets. From time to time, new brooks will join it. And every minute it will strive to reach the sea.

    The Palestinian people, of course, oppose this process. They refuse to budge, set up dams, try to push the stream back. True, for more than a hundred years they have been on the retreat, but they have never surrendered. They continue to resist with the same persistence as the advancing river.

    ALL THIS has been associated, on the Israeli side, with an obstinate denial, using a thousand and one guises, pretexts, self-serving slogans and sanctimonious untruths. But from time to time an unexpected flash of light shows what is really going on.

    That happened this week, when one of the pre-military preparatory schools, set up to educate future officers, convened a meeting of alumni, most of them on active service or in the reserves, and encouraged them to speak freely about their experiences. Since many of them had just returned from the Gaza War, and the things were burning in their bones (as the Hebrew expression goes), shocking details were disclosed. These quickly found their way to the media and were published at length in newspapers and on television.

    To the readers of this column they would not come as a surprise. I have written about them before, e.g. in my article “Black Flag” (January 31, 2009). Amira Hass and Gideon Levy have collected eye-witness reports from Gaza inhabitants, telling much the same stories. But there is a difference: this time the facts are disclosed by the soldiers themselves, those who took part in the events or saw them with their own eyes.

    The army was Shocked. Surprised. Revolted. The official Army Liar, who bears the title of Army Spokesperson, had previously denied anything of the kind. Now he promises that the army will investigate every incident “as the case may require”. The Military Advocate General ordered the investigative arm of the military police to open an inquiry. Since the same Advocate General bragged in the past that his officers had been embedded throughout the war in every front-line command post, one would have to be more than naïve to take his statement seriously.

    One can rely on the army to ensure that nothing tangible emerges from the investigation. An army investigating itself ? like any institution investigating itself ? is a farce. In this case it is even more than farcical, since the soldiers must testify under the eyes of their commanders, while their comrades are listening. In the alumni meeting, they spoke freely, believing that only those present would hear. Even so, they needed a lot of courage to speak out. And since each of them could speak only about what had happened in his immediate vicinity, only a few cases were brought up. The army intends to investigate only those.

    But the picture is far wider. We have heard about many cases of the same kind, and they clearly were a widespread phenomenon. A woman and her children were evicted by soldiers from their home in the middle of the fighting and immediately afterwards shot dead at close range by other soldiers who had orders to shoot everything that moved. Old people and children walking on open ground were shot in cold blood by snipers who saw them clearly through their telescopic sights, who had orders that everybody moving should be considered a “terrorist”. Homes were destroyed for no reason, simply because they were there. Belongings inside apartments were vandalized just for fun, “because they belong to Arabs”. Soldiers slit open sacks of food intended by UNO agencies for the hungry population, because they “go to Arabs”.

    I know that such things happen in every war. A year after the 1948 war I wrote a book about them called “The Other Side of the Coin”. Every fighting army has its share of psychopaths, misfits and sadists, side by side with decent soldiers. But even some of the normal soldiers may go berserk in battle, lose their sense of right and wrong and conform to the “spirit of the unit”, if it is such.

    Something has happened to our army. Its commanders never tire of calling it “the Most Moral Army in the World” and this has become a slogan like “Guinness is Good For You”. But what happened during the Gaza operation testifies to a massive deterioration.

    This deterioration is a natural result of the definition of the war as used in the document submitted to the Supreme Court. This document must arouse shock and condemnation and serve as a wake-up call for every person to whom the future of Israel is dear.

    This war must be ended. The river must be channeled into a different bed, so that its waters will make the earth fertile – before we become irreversibly bestialized in our own eyes, and in the eyes of the world.

    permlink: http://zope.gush-shalom.org/home/en/channels/avnery/1237674669

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  3. ATTENTION FRUMMIES AND SABRAS: I AM CONTEMPLATING TAKING A VACATION IN ISRAEL THIS SUMMER AND I WOULD APPRECIATE ADVICE ON HOW TO COMPORT MYSELF WHILE TRAVELING AROUND JERUSALEM. I HAVE BEEN RAISED TO RESPECT THE RIGHTS OF WOMEN. I WOULD BE INCLINED TO OFFER PROTECTION TO A DEFENSELESS WOMAN IF I OBSERVED THAT SHE WAS IN SOME KIND OF DISTRESS. HOWEVER, I DO NOT WANT TO GO TO ANOTHER SOCIETY AND GET INVOLVED IN GRATUITOUS MAYHEM. PLEASE GIVE ME YOUR OPINION AS TO WHAT WOULD BE THE BEST REACTION IN THE FOLLOWING SCENARIO:

    I am taking a nice scenic bus ride in Jerusalem. A woman gets on the bus with her bag of groceries, pays her fare and sits on the only remaining available seat. A bunch of bearded men dressed in black start yelling at her and gesticulating wildly. The woman persists in remaining in her seat and the men start to pummel her and drag her from her seat. Her bag of groceries gets torn apart and the various items fall on the floor and are purposefully trampled upon by the men who proceed to slap and punch her. SHOULD I:

    A. Sit in my seat, mind my own business and make believe that nothing is going on?

    B. Join in and help the men punish the offending woman?

    C. Yell out to the men that they are making too much noise and should go about their business more quietly?

    D. Take photographs to show to the people back home.

    E. Pick out the most offensive of the black clad bearded men, punch him in his bearded mouth and drag him by his beard to the door and throw him off of the bus. After throwing the bearded bastard off of the bus, the next step would be helping the woman gather her groceries and escorting her back to her seat, stopping along the way to kick any other persisting bearded assailants in their baytsim .

    MY NATURAL PREDILECTION WOULD BE TO GO WITH ANSWER “E” BUT I WOULD APPRECIATE THE INPUT OF SEASONED ISRAELI FRUMMIES AND SABRAS SO I CAN MENTALLY PREPARE MYSELF FOR THE POSSIBILITY THAT I MIGHT HAVE TO GO AGAINST MY NATURAL INCLINATIONS. WHAT WOULD AN ISRAELI FRUMMY OR SABRA DO UNDER THESE CIRCUMSTANCES?

    In appreciation for your kind advice:
    Samuel Nosherman
    SamuelNosherman@yahoo.com

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  4. Hi Samuel, personally I might consider F: tell the men, as calmly, but as firmly, as possible that they should stop and/or call the driver or the police.

    This issue is a bit off topic in this thread. It is discussed, however, here in this blog. I suggest further discussion on women in Israeli buses should be there.

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  5. Pingback: Israeli journalist warns of McCarthyism and racism | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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