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Thursday, March 19, 2009

IDF being smeared over Cast Lead shootings?

Thursday morning, there was a disturbing interview on Israel Radio with the head of the pre-military academy in Tivon and the head of an organization called 'Breaking the Silence.' The academy head described a post-mortem that he conducted with his former students after Operation Cast Lead in which the students claimed that there were cases of indiscriminate shooting of 'Palestinian civilians' in Gaza during the operation.

Some of the alleged testimonies have already been written up in two articles in Haaretz here and here. This is from the first article (picked up by Memeorandum here):
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.

The testimonies include a description by an infantry squad leader of an incident where an IDF sharpshooter mistakenly shot a Palestinian mother and her two children. "There was a house with a family inside .... We put them in a room. Later we left the house and another platoon entered it, and a few days after that there was an order to release the family. They had set up positions upstairs. There was a sniper position on the roof," the soldier 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, and he should hold his fire and he ... he did what he was supposed to, like he was following his orders."
It gets worse from there.

In the second article, the Haaretz reporter grants the soldiers telling the stories 100% reliability.
It seems that what soldiers have to say is actually the way things happened in the field, most of the time. And as usual, reality is completely different from the gentler version provided by the military commanders to the public and media during the operation and after.

The soldiers are not lying, for the simple reason that they have no reason to. If you read the transcript that will appear in Haaretz Friday, you will not find any judgment or boasting. This is what the soldiers, from their point of view, saw in Gaza. There is a continuity of testimony from different sectors that reflects a disturbing and depressing picture.
Oh really? Let's go back to the first article for a minute:
"I don't think he felt too bad about it, because after all, 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 ... I don't know how to describe it .... The lives of Palestinians, let's say, is something very, very less important than the lives of our soldiers. So as far as they are concerned they can justify it that way," he said.
Not judgmental at all, eh?

But it gets worse. Jameel in the Muqhata reports the following:
Channel 2 TV Army correspondent Roni Daniel stated at 6:30 PM this evening, that he personally tracked down one of the soldiers interviewed for the Haaretz article. Apparently the soldier's testimony to Haaretz wasn't based on anything he personally saw or witnessed, rather based on rumors and hearsay he heard (and the soldier wasn't even in Gaza!)
Where have we seen this before? Here's a hint: 'Breaking the Silence.'

Of course, this story is now all over the world's media as uncontested fact (Jameel has a longer list). But when has that ever bothered Haaretz before? (For the record, I waited until after I heard the simulcast of Channel 1's news magazine on the radio before writing this post, and there was no mention of Daniel's finding in their report on this issue).

The IDF will investigate these stories and will likely find in some instances that 'Palestinians' were accidentally shot just like - as the head of another pre-military academy points out - there were some IDF troops accidentally shot. Those things happen in war. When they find widespread verified instances in which IDF troops shoot unarmed 'Palestinian' civilians (real civilians - not just people dressed in civilian clothes as the terrorists are wont to do), call me. Until then, the IDF is the most moral army in the World. Period.

By the way, the photo at the top is of IDF soldiers rescuing a smuggler from a tunnel.


Andrew Sullivan picks up this story and sums it up with the following one-liner:
It profiteth not a man to gain the whole world if he lose his own soul. But for Gaza?
This war was not about Gaza. If it were, 91% of Israelis would not have supported it. This war was about Israel's southern flank. Most Israelis understood that there was no alternative to the war itself - we could not cannot live with the rocket fire. If the rocket fire continues, there will be another war too.

Try living in Sderot for a month, Andrew. Then you'll understand why we went to war.


At 10:21 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

The point overlooked here is that war isn't clean and an army commander's responsibility is to protect the lives of his troops and to pursue victory. The enemy isn't and shouldn't be safe. What the IDF did was to meet the goals set for it and if it fell short, that was due to a deliberate decision by the political echelon to tie its hands, not the result of anything the army did. I don't believe the Haaretz article is a coincidence. Its obviously another hatchet job on the IDF done with the obvious aim of absolving the Olmert-Livni-Barak government from its clear failure to bring Operation Cast Lead to a victorious conclusion. Its a new low, even for Haaretz to turn the IDF into political fodder. Instead of properly holding those in high places accountable for not doing their jobs and winning the war.

At 11:09 PM, Blogger What is "Occupation" said...

let's take apart every weapon fired...

make every soldier call up 3 commanders everytime you wish to walk, shoot, fart or chew...

Yes please General, I have the attacking arab in my scope, he's getting closer, may I fire, please, may I shoot, he is within 7 feet, may i have permission please I'd like answer please i think he is about to shoot m...........................................

soldier dead....

At 11:50 PM, Blogger commoncents said...

Nice post! Keep up the great work!!


At 2:34 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


I didn't see anyone whining when Lebanon displaced 40K paleos from Nahr al-Bared and destroyed the place a few years ago. In fact, I remember many countries praising them for standing up to the thugs. But Lebanon isn't Israel, so no one complains, and as to the paleos? NO ONE REALLY GIVES A FLYING WALLENDA ABOUT THEM. It's only when they are hurt trying to kill Jews in order to steal our Land that people claim to. But it's a lie. In fact, if anyone actually DID care about them, anything even resembling "self-determination" is the LAST thing they would want them to have.

Besides, anyone with an ounce of common sense, and any knowledge of what the stakes are, wouldn't care if they disappeared from the planet tomorrow, ...unless he were on their side, that is.

At 6:48 AM, Blogger NormanF said...

Ytba... you raise an excellent point about Nahr-al Bared, which I think hosted pro-Al Qaeda Palestinians. The Lebanese army went after and guess what? No one in the West went on mass marches to demand the Lebanese stop their assault. Its OK for Palestinians to be killed if the Arabs do its to them.

When the Jews do it, the world hits the roof! And I doubt Operation Cast Lead did one tenth of the damage the Lebanese army did to Nahr-al Bared. The hypocrisy is so thick you can cut through it with a knife. Of course its all about the Jews! Just ask the anti-Israel Richard Falk - the UN human rights rappoteur who will sit in judgment of Israel at the so-called UN Human Rights Council next week.

Th IDF is investigating the allegations reported in Haaretz and Maariv surrounding Operation Cast Lead and they probably won't find much in the way of abuses. If it had been like that, the war wouldn't have received 91% support in Israel. And guess who nobody is looking at as the main abuser of human rights? That's right: Hamas!

It says everything about the critics view of the IDF and the war.

At 8:42 AM, Blogger Jameel @ The Muqata said...

I was right on the money:



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