The horror inflicted by the Israel army on Gazans

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.”


  1. says

    Sounds like a free-fire zone. Amazing the UN doesn’t lift a finger. Oh, yeah, right, the Palestinians have been “unpersoned” just like the Jews were before the Nazis started their genocide. It’s crazy how history repeats itself.

  2. anat says

    I wonder if school teachers in Israel still have discussions with students, like mine did back in the day, about how much Israel values ‘purity of arms’. The court in the Kafr Qasim trial established an obligation to refuse orders in such situations, but to my knowledge there has yet to be a case where this obligation was reinforced by the courts.

  3. Sean (I am not an imposter) says

    Until we get leaders in the West who aren’t toadies to the Zionist lobby, this will continue as it always has, as well as the associated wars to destroy or destabilize Israel’s enemies.

    Cynthia McKinney is one of the few leaders we have in the US who has demonstrated her willingness to put her career and her life on the line to fight these barbarians. I hope people who put their humanitarian principles above the interests of the sold-out Democratic Party will remember this and not vote for another Obushma clone.

  4. Holms says

    For another horrible glimpse at what is happening in Gaza, compare the population and area (and hence density) of the place to your home city / metropolitan area. For my comparison:

    Gaza: 1.8mil in 360km^2 gives 5046/km^2
    Adelaide: 1.3mil in 3257km^2 gives 396/km^2

    Now bear in mind that your city, even if it is very dense like New York, is probably surrounded by farmland and is also connected to stable food sources via various means of transport. Gaza is not, and must support its population off its own limited area and coastal waters patrolled by Israeli warships. Meaning, it is almost wholly dependant on foreign aid. Lacking the ability to leave, herded there by virtue of their ethnicity and in high density, it is the very definition of a concentration camp.

  5. Sean (I am not an imposter) says

    In considering the population density of Gaza, it must be remembered that Israel maintains a 1km-wide “buffer zone” around the whole of Gaza were anyone entering the zone is subject to being shot by snipers. So out of Gaza’s 360 square km, at least 60 square kms is a no-go zone. This zone functions like the notorious “deadlines” at Andersonville and other prisons in the US Civil War where any prisoners crossing a certain fixed line would be shot on sight.

    But it’s not like Gaza is a prison, right?

  6. anat says

    Ahem, since the term antisemitism was coined specifically to whitewash hatred of Jews the ethnicity of Palestinians isn’t quite relevant. Antisemitism is bigotry against Jews. It does not include bigotry against or oppression of people of semitic origin in general.

  7. anat says

    The interesting bit about the genocide of the Armenians is that witnessing it was part of what motivated Sarah Aaronsohn to join her brother’s spy ring whose purpose was to transfer the rule of Palestine from the Ottomans to the British.

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