[News] Israeli soldiers ordered to kill civilians in Gaza

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Mon May 4 12:40:12 EDT 2015


  Israeli soldiers ordered to kill civilians in Gaza, says Breaking the
  Silence

Submitted by Patrick Strickland on Mon, 05/04/2015
*http://electronicintifada.net/blogs/patrick-strickland/israeli-soldiers-ordered-kill-civilians-gaza-says-breaking-silence*

Israeli soldiers were under orders to shoot civilians dead while 
attacking Gaza last summer, according to testimonies 
<http://www.breakingthesilence.org.il/testimonies/database/64572> 
published today by the group Breaking the Silence.

The testimonies, which include several interviews with mid-ranking 
Israeli military figures, highlight the extreme cruelty demonstrated 
during the 51-day offensive.

Some testimonies claim that Israeli soldiers were told that everything 
in Gaza was a “threat” and that they may use as much ammunition as they 
wished.

More than 2,200 Palestinians – mostly civilians – were killed in the 
offensive, according 
<http://www.ochaopt.org/documents/ocha_opt_protection_of_civilians_weekly_report_2014_11_28_english.pdf> 
to the United Nations monitoring group OCHA 
<http://electronicintifada.net/tags/un-ocha>.

While Israeli leaders regularly claim that the military takes 
precautions against striking civilians, the Breaking the Silence 
testimonies suggest otherwise.


    *“Sterilized”*

“Anything inside [Gaza] is a threat,” one sergeant, who served in the 
central Gaza area of Deir al-Balah, told Breaking the Silence. “The area 
has to be ‘sterilized,’ empty of people – and if we don’t see someone 
waving a white flag, screaming: ‘I give up’ or something — then he’s a 
threat and there’s authorization to open fire.”

“The saying was: ‘There’s no such thing there as a person who is 
uninvolved,’” the sergeant added. “In that situation, anyone there is 
involved.”

Deir al-Balah <http://electronicintifada.net/tags/deir-al-balah> was one 
of several areas that sustained heavy casualties during Israel’s attack 
on Gaza. On 24 July, several Palestinians were injured when Israeli 
forces shelled a United Nations school 
<http://www.ibtimes.com/un-school-gaza-hit-israeli-fire-5-injured-1637736> 
serving as a refuge for Palestinians displaced by the fighting.

As reported 
<http://electronicintifada.net/content/how-israels-smart-weapons-killed-disabled-gaza-teen/14249> 
by The Electronic Intifada, Amal Abu Jayab, a disabled Palestinian teen, 
was hit by an Israeli drone strike in Deir al-Balah on 13 July. She died 
four days later.

Another sergeant recalled instructions delivered to soldiers by a 
commander during training ahead of the ground invasion of Gaza, which 
began on 17 July. “We don’t take risks. We do not spare ammo. We unload, 
we use as much as possible,” he remembered his commander saying.


    *“Writhing in pain”*

One staff sergeant stationed in northern Gaza during the war said 
soldiers were told to “shoot right away.”

“The instructions are to shoot right away,” he told 
<http://www.breakingthesilence.org.il/testimonies/database/64572> 
Breaking the Silence, an organization formed by Israeli soldiers opposed 
to the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza. “Whoever you spot – be they 
armed or unarmed, no matter what. The instructions are very clear. Any 
person you run into, that you see with your eyes – shoot to kill. It’s 
an explicit instruction.”

Another staff sergeant, who was in an infantry unit in northern Gaza, 
recalled watching a civilian 
<http://www.breakingthesilence.org.il/testimonies/database/375047> while 
he was “writhing in pain.”

“So this old man came over, and the guy manning the post — I don’t know 
what was going through his head — he saw this civilian, and he fired at 
him, and he didn’t get a good hit,” the staff sergeant remarked. “The 
civilian was laying there, writhing in pain.”

He said: “It was clear to everyone that one of two things was going to 
happen: Either we let him die slowly, or we put him out of his misery. 
Eventually, we put him out of his misery and a D9 [armored 
bulldozer] came over and dropped a mound of rubble on him and that was 
the end of it.”

That same sergeant told Breaking the Silence that when they informed the 
battalion’s commander, he was uninterested.


    Looting

The soldiers also spoke openly about looting, intentional destruction 
<http://electronicintifada.net/tags/home-demolitions> and taking over 
Palestinian homes in Gaza during the offensive.

One staff sergeant from the Israeli armored corps remembered tank 
operators running over cars 
<http://www.breakingthesilence.org.il/testimonies/database/351204> 
several times. Tank operators “had this sort of crazy urge to run over a 
car,” he said.

“And there was one time that my [tank’s] driver, a slightly hyperactive 
guy, managed to convince the tank’s officer to run over a car, and it 
was really not that exciting,” he said. Aside from a “scolding,” he said 
the tank operator was not punished.

Another sergeant who was stationed in northern Gaza reflected on the 
destruction his army had inflicted on the northern part of the strip. 
“The houses were already in ruins by the time we got there,” he noted, 
explaining that armored bulldozers proceeded to roll through chicken coops.

Commenting on the extent of the destruction, he added: “I never saw 
anything like it, not even in Lebanon. There was destruction there, too 
– but never in my life did I see anything like this.”


    *“Reduced to a pile of sand”*

Yet another infantry staff sergeant told Breaking the Silence that 
soldiers threw grenades 
<http://www.breakingthesilence.org.il/testimonies/database/868128> into 
the homes before entering them. He remembered how an orchard was 
intentionally destroyed by tanks and armored bulldozers.

“It was one of the most beautiful orchards I’d ever seen… and within a 
few hours it was totally erased – reduced to piles of powdered sand,” he 
said.

Razing the orchard was by no means an isolated incident. Several 
testimonies 
<http://www.breakingthesilence.org.il/testimonies/database/?ci=152&tzuk=1> 
describe in detail how soldiers were ordered to destroy Palestinian 
homes and raze other infrastructure.

Homes were often targeted with entire families still inside them, 
according to other organizations. Earlier this year, a report published 
<http://electronicintifada.net/content/israels-open-fire-policy-wiped-out-entire-families-gaza-says-new-study/14240> 
by the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem 
<http://electronicintifada.net/tags/btselem> found that Israel’s 
“open-fire policy” during the Gaza attack resulted in “dozens of 
instances in which residential buildings were attacked from the air or 
ground, causing them to collapse on entire families.”

Explaining that the policy of bombing homes was implemented throughout 
Gaza, the B’Tselem report noted: “These attacks were not carried out on 
the whim of individual soldiers, pilots or commanders in the field. They 
are the result of a policy formulated by government officials and the 
senior military command.”


    *Impunity *

Despite calls for investigations into Israeli war crimes in Gaza, no 
Israeli soldiers or commanders have faced any meaningful consequences.

Speaking to /The Guardian/ 
<http://electronicintifada.net/tags/guardian>, the Israeli military 
claimed 
<http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/may/04/israeli-soldiers-cast-doubt-on-legality-of-gaza-military-operation> 
to “investigate all credible claims” of war crimes and misconduct.

Yet, both during the attack and in its wake, Israel repeatedly denied 
independent human rights investigators access to Gaza. Among those 
prevented from entering the strip were Amnesty International 
<http://electronicintifada.net/tags/amnesty-international> and Human 
Rights Watch <http://electronicintifada.net/tags/human-rights-watch>, as 
well as UN investigators.

To make matters worse, much of Gaza remains in ruins some nine months 
after the attack concluded. As of late February, only five percent 
<http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2015/02/gaza-donations-fall-short-pledges-150218060136423.html> 
of the international aid promised by donor countries in order to rebuild 
Gaza had been delivered.

Though limited housing repairs have been made, none of the more than 
12,000 Palestinian homes destroyed by Israel have been rebuilt, 
according 
<http://news.yahoo.com/hamas-consolidates-grip-gaza-reconstruction-stalls-151059394.html> 
to the Association of International Development Agencies.

With the perpetrators of massacres enjoying impunity and international 
donors failing to make good on its promises, Palestinians in Gaza are 
unlikely to expect justice in the near future.


-- 
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