Continuing Documentation of Israeli War Crimes in Gaza

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Israeli war crimes during the Gaza massacre, widely reported at the time, are now being investigated and confirmed by many independent sources, including the testimony of Israeli soldiers themselves.  Here is a sampling of the many new disclosures (links and/or more info about the numbered items appear below):
 
1.  UN human rights official Richard Falk not only accuses Israel of committing war crimes in its massacre of Gazans, but says they EVEN CREATED A NEW ONE, UNIQUE IN CONTEMPORARY WARFARE, which can be loosely translated as “shooting fish in a barrel.”
 
2.    Guardian (UK) investigation uncovers evidence of Israelis’ use of Palestinian children as human shields; Israeli targeting of ambulances and rescue personnel; and targeting of civilians by precision Israeli drones.
 
3.  “Israel Treated Gaza Like Its Own Private Death Laboratory,” Conn Hallinan, Foreign Policy in Focus.  This article made me think of Nazi medical experiments.
 
4.  Human Rights Watch documents indiscriminate Israeli use of white phosphorus against civilians, the UN and a school.
 
5 & 6.  The vile racism, dehuminazation of Arabs, sadism and misogyny on the T-shirts worn by off-duty Israeli soldiers also has inescapable parallels with Nazism, and is indicative of Israel’s drift toward fascism.  An Israeli Army psychologist sees the T-shirts as “an expression of bonding.”
 
7.  Israeli soldiers speak out about war crimes in Gaza.

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1.  UN Official Accuses Israel of Creating a New War Crime in Gaza

The United Nations special rapporteur on human rights in the Palestinian territories, Richard Falk, accused Israel Monday of committing war crimes in Gaza. . . 

Richard Falk: “The overall ratio of deaths—1,434 on the Palestinian side, thirteen on the Israeli side—is suggestive of the one-sidedness of the military encounter and provides a basis for challenging the legality of initiating a military assault with modern weaponry against an essentially defenseless society.”

Richard Falk also accused Israel of preventing Palestinian civilians from fleeing the military assault.

Richard Falk: “This indictment of Israeli tactics is strongly reinforced by a feature of the military operations that is unique in contemporary warfare: namely, coercively confining the Gazan civilian population to the combat zone during the Israeli military operations. This effectively denied to all Palestinians in Gaza the option of becoming refugees. Such a war policy should be treated as a distinct and new crime against humanity and should be formally recognized as such and explicitly prohibited.  http://www.democracynow.org/2009/3/24/headlines

 

2.  Guardian investigation.  This story includes 3 embedded videos on the use of Palestinian children as human shields, Israeli attacks on rescue personnel and vehicles, and the targeting of civilians by Israeli drones:  http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/mar/23/israel-gaza-war-crimes-guardian
 
3.  “Israel Treated Gaza Like Its Own Private Death Laboratory,” Conn Hallinan, Foreign Policy in Focushttp://www.fpif.org/fpiftxt/5862.
 
4.  Human Rights Watch documents indiscriminate Israeli use of white phosphorus against civilians, the UN and a school.  http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/mar/25/israel-white-phosphorus-gaza

5.   “Israeli army rides out T-shirt row,” BBC Newshttp://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/7960071.stm

 
6.    “Dead Palestinian babies and bombed mosques – IDF fashion 2008″, Haaretz, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/7960071.stm.
 
7.   Israeli soldiers speak out (excerpts):
 
‘Shooting and crying’
By Amos Harel
 
excerpt: “Toward the end of the operation there was a plan to go into a very densely populated area inside Gaza City itself. In the briefings they started to talk to us about orders for opening fire inside the city, because as you know they used a huge amount of firepower and killed a huge number of people along the way, so that we wouldn’t get hurt and they wouldn’t fire on us.

“At first the specified action was to go into a house. We were supposed to go in with an armored personnel carrier called an Achzarit [literally, Cruel] to burst through the lower door, to start shooting inside and then … I call this murder … in effect, we were supposed to go up floor by floor, and any person we identified – we were supposed to shoot. I initially asked myself: Where is the logic in this?

“From above they said it was permissible, because anyone who remained in the sector and inside Gaza City was in effect condemned, a terrorist, because they hadn’t fled. I didn’t really understand: On the one hand they don’t really have anywhere to flee to, but on the other hand they’re telling us they hadn’t fled so it’s their fault … This also scared me a bit. I tried to exert some influence, insofar as is possible from within my subordinate position, to change this. In the end the specification involved going into a house, operating megaphones and telling [the tenants]: ‘Come on, everyone get out, you have five minutes, leave the house, anyone who doesn’t get out gets killed.’

 
A Religious War in Israel’s Army
Ethan Bronner, NY Times 03/22/09
excerpt:  A soldier, identified by the pseudonym Ram, is quoted as saying that in Gaza, “the rabbinate brought in a lot of booklets and articles and their message was very clear: We are the Jewish people, we came to this land by a miracle, God brought us back to this land and now we need to fight to expel the non-Jews who are interfering with our conquest of this holy land. This was the main message, and the whole sense many soldiers had in this operation was of a religious war.”
 
IDF soldiers ordered to shoot at Gaza rescuers, note says
By Amira Hass, Haaretz Correspondent
excerpt: GAZA STRIP – “Rules of Engagement: Open fire also upon rescue,” was handwritten in Hebrew on a sheet of paper found in one of the Palestinian homes the Israel Defense Forces took over during Operation Cast Lead. A reservist officer who did not take part in the Gaza offensive believes that the note is part of orders a low-level commander wrote before giving his soldiers their daily briefing.
 
excerpt: The soldiers who testified about misconduct “placed a very unpleasant mirror before us,” said one officer. “The chief of staff is deflecting discussion now,” said another. “It’s much easier to find the rotten apples, but there are many much more basic and deeper questions. It’s not just an ethical issue, it’s also a question of professionalism. The soldiers’ accounts show there are professional difficulties in fighting in such complex territory – that we’re just not doing it all that well.”
 
 
IDF ceased long ago being ‘most moral army in the world’
By Gideon Levy
excerpt: The soldiers’ transgressions are an inevitable result of the orders given during this brutal operation, and they are the natural continuation of the last nine years, when soldiers killed nearly 5,000 Palestinians, at least half of them innocent civilians, nearly 1,000 of them children and teenagers.

Everything the soldiers described from Gaza, everything, occurred during these blood-soaked years as if they were routine events. It was the context, not the principle, that was different. An army whose armored corps has yet to encounter an enemy tank and whose pilots have yet to face an enemy combat jet in 36 years has been trained to think that the only function of a tank is to crush civilian cars and that a pilot’s job is to bomb residential neighborhoods.

To do this without any unnecessary moral qualms we have trained our soldiers to think that the lives and property of Palestinians have no value whatsoever. It is part of a process of dehumanization that has endured for dozens of years, the fruits of the occupation.

IDF In Gaza: Killing Civilians, Vandalism, and Lax Rules of Engagement
By Amos Harel, Haaretz Correspondent
Haaretz (Israel)
March 19, 2009
http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1072040.html

excerptThe 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.”

According to the squad leader: “The sharpshooter saw a woman and children approaching him, closer than the
lines he was told no one should pass. He shot them straight away. In any case, what happened is that in the end he killed them.

“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.

Another squad leader from the same brigade told of an incident where the company commander ordered that an
elderly Palestinian woman be shot and killed; she was walking on a road about 100 meters from a house the
company had commandeered.

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.”

 

Testimonies on IDF misconduct in Gaza keep rolling in
By Amos Harel

http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1072811.html

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