Throughout its history, Israel has willfully and repeatedly committed crimes of war and against humanity, always with impunity. Yet under customary legal standards and norms (including Geneva, Hague, the UN Charter, S.C. and G.A. resolutions), it’s lawless, a serial abuser, a threat to the region and humanity, mostly as an oppressive occupier. Attacking Gaza is the latest episode in its six-decade reign of terror satisfying the definition of genocide against defenseless Palestinian civilians. This article covers more evidence from some disturbing but unsurprising newly published information.
On March 19, in the first of a series of articles, Haaretz headlined: “IDF killed civilians in Gaza under loose rules of engagement.” Military correspondent Amos Harel revealed Israeli soldier and pilot (“dirty secret”) testimonies of being ordered to kill unarmed civilians and destroy their property – accounts at variance with official claims that only military targets were attacked and that “Israeli troops observed a high level of moral behavior during the operation.” Defense Minister Ehud Barak calls the IDF “the most moral army in the world.”
“Moral” examples included an infantry squad leader recounting the shooting of a 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….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,” after which a rooftop sniper “shot them straight away….I don’t think he felt too bad about it, because after all, as far as he was concerned, he (followed orders, and, besides, Palestinian lives are) less important” than our own soldiers.
Other incidents included:
— a squad leader telling of a company commander ordering an elderly Palestinian woman to be shot and killed;
— soldiers saying “we should kill everyone (in the center of Gaza); everyone there is a terrorist;”
— soldiers writing “death to the Arabs on walls” and spitting on family pictures;
— a squad leader saying: “At the beginning, the directive was to enter a house with an armored vehicle, break the door down, (and) start shooting inside – I call it murder – to shoot at everyone we identify;” commanders called it OK “because everyone left in the city is culpable because they didn’t run away;”
— soldiers ordered to indiscriminately destroy property and farmland;
— orders given to enter a house, “switch on loudspeakers and tell (occupants) you have five minutes to run away and whoever doesn’t will be killed;”
These and other accounts typify regular incidents in occupied Gaza and the West Bank. When revealed, official denials follow or in response to clear evidence, officers, like military advocate general Avichai Mendelblit, say the incidents will be investigated, after which everything is whitewashed, quietly forgotten, none of the guilty are prosecuted, and security forces keep using disproportionate force against defenseless Palestinian civilians.
In a March 19 analysis, Harel concluded that this “happen(s) 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 (an) operation and after. The soldiers are not lying, for the simple reason that they have no reason to” and every reason to stay silent. The rule is: “You don’t ask, we won’t tell,” but these soldiers, squad leaders, pilots and commanders did.
Further, there’s a “continuity of testimony from different sectors that reflects a disturbing and depressing picture” of a rogue military willfully committing war crimes because they know they can get away with them. Harel concluded: “The IDF’s ethical problems did not start in 2009.” They go back decades, but according to some, military “deterioration” has been continuous from the 1967 war to Operation Cast Lead. Worse still is that Israeli history reveals six decades of relentless and continuous terror. Attacking Gaza for 22 days is just the latest episode.
On March 21, the London Independent’s Donald Macintyre wrote: “Israelis (were) told to fight a ‘holy war’ in Gaza….a religious war” against Arabs, according to a soldier citing “the martial role of military rabbis during the operation.” In rabbinate literature distributed to the troops, the message was: “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 Gentiles who are interfering with our conquest of this holy land.”
According to the Israeli human rights group, Yesh Din, IDF head chaplain, Rabbi Avichai Rontzki, a brigadier general, distributed booklet material saying that it was “terribly immoral” to show mercy to a “cruel enemy” and that soldiers were fighting “murderers.” Imagine rabbis claiming to be men of God, yet violating core Jewish dogma by preaching hate, premeditated murder, and lying about innocent civilians they’re vilifying. Another example of the viciousness of a so-called civilized state, acting like barbarians (in the name of God) and calling it just.