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Sunday, March 01, 2009

Ex-IDF 'confessions' leaked to media instead of being turned over to IDF

An organization called 'Breaking the Silence' leaked a story of an alleged 'assassin' to the London Sunday Independent (home of the inimitable Robert Fisk) rather than reporting it to the IDF. The story details the alleged liquidation of one Jamal Abdel Razeq who was allegedly liquidated by Israeli forces on November 22, 2000 in Gaza. The story focuses on the fact that the sharpshooter in question allegedly shot eleven bullets into Abdel Razeq's head and that two civilians were allegedly caught up in a taxi that was accidentally stopped at the same time and were also killed. The taxi driver, who allegedly survived, allegedly refused to talk to al-Independent. This is the Independent's summary of the story:
The Independent on Sunday has obtained an account which, for the first time, details service in one of the Israeli military's assassination squads.

A former conscript has told the IoS and an ex-soldiers' organisation of his part in an ambush that went wrong, accidentally killing two men as well as the two militants targeted.

The ex-soldier, a trained sharpshooter, says he fired 11 bullets into the head of the militant whose death had been ordered by his superiors. The squad was initially told it was going on an arrest mission, but was then ordered on a minute's notice to shoot to kill.

Instead of the flaws in the operation being discussed afterwards, the squad was told it had "succeeded perfectly" and had been congratulated by the Prime Minister and chief of staff.

The former soldier, who was psychologically scarred by the incident, has never told his parents what happened.
The Independent claims that two 'collaborators' assisted Israel in tracking down Abdel Razek, who was a 'relatively low-level Palestinian militant' (we are not told from what terror organization, but the contemporary accounts place him as a senior commander in Fatah). The Palestinian Human Rights Monitor Group's February 2002 report on assassinations lists one 'collaborator' who was executed as a result of Abdel Razek's assassination. He was 25-year old Majdy Mohammed Mikkawi, who was arrested on December 2, 2000, sentenced to death by firing squad on January 11, 2001 and executed at the Gaza police headquarters on January 13, 2001. 'Justice' comes quickly in the 'Palestinian Authority.'

It's very difficult to reconstruct events that were so far in the past. The Independent notes the IDF's reaction.
The Israeli military said in response to detailed queries about the incident and the discrepancies between its account at the time and that of Palestinians, and now the ex-soldier, that it takes "human rights violations very seriously" but "regrets that Breaking the Silence does not provide it with details or testimony of the incidents it alleges in order to allow for a thorough investigation". It added that "these soldiers and commanders did not approach senior commanders ... with their complaints during their service."
I am suspicious of any group that makes these kinds of allegations against IDF soldiers that will not turn its evidence over to the IDF. But let's try looking at more contemporaneous accounts. This is from the December 13, 2000 Los Angeles Times:
In the Gaza Strip on Nov. 22, Israeli forces opened fire on a car, killing a senior Fatah commander, Jamal Abdel Razek, and several of his aides.
This is a London Telegraph account from June 2001 (which would place the event about seven months later).
Israelis had been braced for a Palestinian response since the morning when the army laid an ambush for a wanted militant in the Gaza Strip. When the man, Jamal Abdel-Razeq, tried to drive his car through a roadblock at Morag, a tank riddled it with machine-gun bullets, the army said.

Four people died, and two were injured, including the wife of one of the dead men. Palestinians called the killing a "public execution" of unarmed civilians and vowed revenge. The Fatah movement, nominally under the control [yes, that's what people thought in 2001. They couldn't believe that Arafat, the 'man of peace' was orchestrating the whole thing. That all changed when Israel raided the Mukhata a year later. CiJ] of the Palestinian leader, Yasser Arafat, promised to "burn the ground beneath the feet of the Israeli occupation and the Zionist settlers".


The Israelis made no apologies for killing Abdel-Razeq. "He was trying to escape. It was the only way," said a government spokesman, Nachman Shai.

Abdel-Razeq was released by Israel last year after serving seven years of an 18-year prison sentence.
Curiously, the Telegraph has almost the same story on the original November 22, 2000 date:
22 November 2000:

IDF troops ambush Jamal Abdel-Razeq with a tank, killing him and three other passengers in his car. Mr Razeq was wanted by the Israeli authorities. Soon after the attack a bomb explodes in the Israeli town of Hadera during rush hour, killing two people.

Mr Arafat's Palestinian Authority denies responsibility for the blast. The Fatah movement does not condone attacking targets within Israel, and directs its assaults against the Israeli army and settlers inside the occupied territories.
This is from the 'Palestinian Centre for Human Rights':
On November 22, 2000, an Israeli tank intercepted two Palestinian cars near an Israeli roadblock on the road leading to Morag settlement east of Rafah. Without warning, the tank opened fire on the two cars, killing four. Those were, Jamal ‘Abdel-Razeq, 30, from Rafah; ‘Awni Ismail Dhuheir, 38, from Rafah; Na’el Salem Al-Leddawi, 22, from Rafah; and Sami Nasser Abu Laban, 29, from Sheikh Radwan neighborhood in Gaza City. The Israeli occupation forces transferred the four bodies to a nearby settlement and handed them over to the Palestinian side only after several hours.
And the footnote that goes with this entry:
The Israeli occupation forces first claimed that the four Palestinians were activists of the Fatah Movement’s military wing and were attempting to carry out an attack in Morag settlement, located approximately 200m away from the place of the incident. Later, an Israeli military spokesman asserted that the assassination was a planned operation that targeted a leader of Fatah Movement, Jamal ‘Abdel-Razeq, 30, from Rafah, whom Israeli occupation forces accused of firing upon their soldiers during recent clashes. When the four were killed, they were traveling between two cars from Rafah to Khan Yunis. When they were close to the Israeli roadblock leading to Morag settlement, an Israeli tank intercepted their cars and opened fire on them. Israeli soldiers positioned on an observation tower also fired upon them.
And finally, there is this from IMRA's predecessor:
During initiated activity by the IDF in the region of Morag, the IDF killed a senior activist in the Fatah-Tanzim, Gamal A-Kader Hasan A-Razak during an attempt to stop him, as he was traveling in his vehicle on the road between Rafiah and Khan Yunis and he attempted to break through an IDF roadblock. In this incident, three other terrorists were killed.

The IDF Spokesperson emphasizes that IDF forces will continue to act in a determined and directed manner against terrorist targets, and will strike at anyone endangering the lives of Israeli civilians.
In summary, none of the contemporary accounts of the incident suggests that any of the four people killed were anything other than terrorists. To suggest otherwise more than eight years later without any evidence other than an anonymous interview with an anonymous soldier is suspicious - to put it mildly. But I guess that's what it takes to sell a Sunday paper in London.


At 7:04 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

Its more than that, Carl. Its an Anti-Apartheid Week around the globe and this story is part of what you'll see is part of an orchestrated attempt to portray Israel as a racist regime that just guns down innocent Palestinians at random. If you don't have the context, gullible people are likely to believe Israel IS guilty of inflicting an apartheid war crime upon the Palestinians. Its easy enough to verify the truth but who takes the time to do that today? After nine years, things get lost in a fog, and among them, whatever Israel originally happened to be doing at the time.

Which is a far cry from a war crime committed by a brutal apartheid regime.

At 10:03 PM, Blogger Ayatollah Ghilmeini said...

Carl this is utter horsehooey.

1. No sharpshooter or soldier is ever trained to pump 11 bullets into someone's head. 1 bullet to the head is almost always 100% debilitating (whoever is hit is unable to fight anymore) and almost always fatal, surviving a second head shot is all but unheard of. No soldier would ever be told to fire a third round. Ever. They are not trained that way. Period.

2. Bullets do terrible things to people. 11 bullets to a head assuming any normal combat situation would, barring a miracle, see little of the head left after the fifth or sixth shot. You can research gunshot wound images if you don't believe me but don't eat before you look.

So someone wrong, the source, might not even be a soldier as the account makes no sense- he either failed to follow his training or he is a terrible soldier or he is a lying sack of manure. At least one and probably all three of these are true.

Notice the report says that the man killed was an enemy and two other enemies were killed with him. Innocents may have been killed in the clash but Israel effectively targeted and hit what it should hit, combatants.

At 12:00 AM, Blogger Jerry Haber said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At 12:05 AM, Blogger Jerry Haber said...

Boy, you guys miss the point entirely. And Ayatollah, you obviously have never served in combat if you think that soldiers always do just what they were trained to do.

The point is that all the contemporary press reports were lies, fed by the IDF spokespeople. There weren't four terrorists moving between two cars. There was no need to kill their target because they didn't have weapons. All this was part of the BIG LIE that the IDF put out to cover its tuches.

Once the soldier gave the testimony to Breaking the Silence, and the Independent got it -- once the soldier confessed that the two guys in the car in front were not part of their targets and that the operation was botched -- the Independent reporter went to work. It wasn't hard to learn who the innocent people were because the operation had gone wrong.

What is truly interesting about the story is that the IDF in 2000 even bothered to lie. Now the story would go, "We got a big terrorist, and unfortunately there was a collateral damage. We didn't intend to kill the innocents."

But that is how the IDF works -- kill hundreds of innocent people unintentionally.

So who are you going to believe? The IDF soldier who pulled the trigger? Or the IDF spokeseperson.

Any sane and unbiased person would belief the guy who pulled the trigger. Especially since Breaking the Silence has collected over eight hundred testimonies, and NOT ONCE has any of them been disconfirmed -- whereas the IDF has often retracted its statements and changed its stories.


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