Thursday, March 19, 2009

Israeli soldiers on Gaza: Killing civilians, vandalism, and lax rules of engagement

Posted by Christian  |  at  19.3.09 is reporting on conversations held a month ago between graduates of a pre-army program at Oranim, who fought in Gaza as combat soldiers and junior officers.

These are some of their stories.

Israeli forces killed Palestinian civilians and intentionally destroyed their property under permissive rules of engagement, say the soldiers.

"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."

"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.
In another incident, a commander ordered an elderly Palestinian woman be shot and killed as she walked along a road. She was about 100 metres from a house being occupied by Israeli forces.

In another account, a squad leader says he protested the permissive rules of engagement which allowed clearing houses by shooting without any warning to the residents. After the orders were changed, his soldiers complained, saying they should kill everyone in the heart of Gaza because they were all terrorists.
"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."


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