The Israeli group Breaking the Silence has released a new report of testimonies given by some Israeli soldiers that reveals the depth of the atrocities inflicted by the Israeli army on the people of Gaza during its assault last year. In that operation known as Protective Edge 1,462 civilians, among them 495 children and 253 women were killed. Some may recall the infamous video of four boys being massacred as they played on a beach.
Glenn Greenwald highlights some of the statements given by the soldiers about the instructions they were given, counteracting the Israeli, US, and British propaganda narrative that the Israeli Defense forces exercised the utmost care to avoid civilian casualties.
The commander [gave that order]. “Anything you see in the neighborhoods you’re in, anything within a reasonable distance, say between zero and 200 meters – is dead on the spot. No authorization needed.” We asked him: “I see someone walking in the street, do I shoot him?” He said yes.
Did the commander discuss what happens if you run into civilians or uninvolved people?
There are none. The working assumption states – and I want to stress that this is a quote of sorts: that anyone located in an IDF area, in areas the IDF took over – is not [considered] a civilian. That is the working assumption. We entered Gaza with that in mind, and with an insane amount of firepower.
The rest of the quotes are examples of this policy being carried out, such as this one.
A soldier who was in one of the posts saw an old [Palestinian] man approaching, so he shouted that some old man was getting near. He didn’t shoot at him – he fired near him. What I know, because I checked this, is that one of the other soldiers shot that grandpa twice. . . .
I went up to a window to see what was going on out there, and I saw there was an old man lying on the ground, he was shot in his leg and he was wounded. It was horrible, the wound was horrible, and he looked either dead or unconscious to me. . . . . And then after that, some guy from the company went out and shot that man again, and that, for me, was the last straw.
Here’s another example.
An infantry soldier recalled an incident in which a force identified two suspicious figures walking in an orchard, only a few hundred meters away. The lookouts couldn’t immediately identify them, so a drone was sent up to take a look. It was two women walking through the orchard, talking on cell phones. “The aircraft took aim at these women and killed them,” he said. A tank company commander who arrived afterward to check the area found the bodies of the two women, who were both over 30 and unarmed.
There were several other reports of shooting at civilians. A woman who was clearly unstable and no threat was reportedly ordered by the battalion commander to walk westward, toward an area where tanks were stationed. When the woman approached the tank force, she was machine-gunned to death.
You can read the other grisly testimonies that include bulldozing houses and driving armored vehicles over cars, just for the fun of it. We see the assumption that anyone in a given area is considered to be the enemy and worthy of being summarily killed. Note that what the Israeli soldiers describe are manifestly war crimes. Will anyone be prosecuted?
Former US president Jimmy Carter is currently on a visit to Gaza and said “The situation in Gaza is intolerable. Eight months after a devastating war, not one destroyed house has been rebuilt and people cannot live with the respect and dignity they deserve.”