Friday, March 20, 2009

Israel's dirty secrets in Gaza.

It is the front page story in today's Independent newspaper and it all refers to articles in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz . 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.

In their own words: Soldiers' stories

Squad leader Aviv

"At the beginning the directive was to enter a house with an armoured vehicle, to break the door down, to start shooting inside and to ascend floor by floor and – I call it murder – to go from floor to floor and 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. This frightened me a bit. I tried to influence it as much as possible, despite my low rank, to change it. In the end the directive was to go into a house, switch on loudspeakers and tell them 'you have five minutes to run away and whoever doesn't will be killed'."

Soldier Ram

"There was an order to free the [confined] families. The platoon commander set free the family and told them to turn right. A mother and two children didn't understand and turned left. [Officers] had forgotten to tell the sniper on the roof that they were being set free and that everything was okay and he should hold fire. You can say that he acted as he was supposed to, in accordance with the orders. The sniper saw a woman and children approaching him, past lines that no one was to be allowed to cross. He fired directly at them. I don't know if he fired at their legs but in the end he killed them."

The full press reports can be read on IDF in Gaza: Killing civilians, vandalism, and lax rules of engagement and on ANALYSIS / Can Israel dismiss its own troops' stories from Gaza? both written by the Haaretz journalist Amos Harel.

What these disgusting stories show is that the crimes committed by Israel in Gaza have been ordered from the top. This is not the odd rogue soldier or the one bad apple in the barrel. This policy has come from top government and developed by the Israel Defense Force with no regard for international law, borders or human rights. This policy was adopted by a government who has been democratically elected by the Jewish people. I accept that not all Jewish people have endorsed the dreadful conduct of the Israel Defense Force or the aggressive foreign policy of the Jewish parliament. It is the same as our British government, elected by the man in the street. Not every British voter is behind our government's foreign policy or the deployment of our armed forces abroad.

What really offends me is the actions of Israel as a nation and the crimes that have been committed by the Israel Defense Force against the civilians of Gaza. Shame on Israel, it's government and it's armed forces. The eyes of the world see what evil you have committed and endorsed. The only light so far at the end of the tunnel is that a handful of soldiers appear in the cold light of day and with the benefit of hindsight, to have a conscience and a belief in humanity.
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