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Ron Zaidel, The Independent 5/5/2015
As a former sniper with the Israeli army, I am calling for for an investigation of the events that took place in Gaza last year.
The conflict in the Gaza Strip in the summer of 2014 was the most violent and destructive round of fighting experienced in Gaza in recent years. According to the UN, 2,205 Palestinians lost their lives, 18,000 homes throughout Gaza were damaged or destroyed and 108,000 Palestinians were left homeless. This unprecedented scale of death and destruction is not a matter of chance and should surprise no one – it is the result of a deliberate change in recent years in the way the Israeli army (IDF) conducts its wars.
This change began in 2005, when Professor Asa Kasher and Major General (res.) Amos Yadlin published a paper called “Military Ethics of Fighting Terror: An Israeli Perspective.” This paper offers a radically changed perspective on the IDF’s obligation to avoid harming innocent lives. It defines a “hierarchy of lives” with four levels. The lives of Israeli citizens come first, followed by the lives of IDF soldiers. The lives of enemy civilians come next and enemy combatants come last. This hierarchy determines that the army’s duty is to do everything in its power to prevent harm to IDF soldiers, even if it causes probable harm to the lives of innocent Palestinian civilians in Gaza.
This doctrine shaped the IDF’s mode of action in Gaza and influenced the rules of engagement Israeli soldiers received last summer during Operation Protective Edge, as indicated in over 60 soldiers’ testimonies collected by Breaking the Silence. One testifier described the rules of engagement as follows: “The instructions are to shoot right away. 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.” Instructions of this kind were given to soldiers of all ranks. -- See also: Breaking the Silence: This is How We Fought in Gaza, Full Report more.. e-mail Israeli soldiers describe ’losing their sense of morality’ during the Gaza conflict
Robert Tait, Jerusalem, Telegraph 5/4/2015
Soldiers who took part in last year's Gaza conflict tell Breaking the Silence, an NGO run by former Israeli soldiers, that they were told "If you shoot someone in Gaza, it's cool, no big deal"
Israeli forces may have committed "grave violations" of the international laws of warfare during last summer's bloody Gaza conflict, according to the accounts of soldiers who fought in it.
A collection of harrowing testimonies published on Monday by Breaking the Silence, an NGO run by former Israeli soldiers, describes lax rules of engagement that allowed troops wide discretion to open fire in built-up areas - leading to mass non-combatant casualties and devastating damage to homes and civilian infrastructure.
Forces operated under the assumption that they were entering areas that had been cleared of inhabitants after the Israeli army launched its military offensive, Operation Protective Edge, last July. Soldiers were told to target any Palestinian encountered as a "terrorist" and to shoot to kill.
In reality, many residents had remained behind in neighbourhoods where military officials had dropped leaflets or made phone calls ordering inhabitants to evacuate - leaving them at the mercy of massive shelling, air attacks or gunfire from troops who identified them as militants.
Israeli forces also made devastating use of inaccurate missiles such as cannon and mortars in civilians areas, causing widespread destruction and breaching two basic principles of the law of war - distinction and proportionality - according to Michael Sfard, Breaking the Silence's legal adviser. more.. e-mail This is How We Fought in Gaza 2014
Breaking The Silence 5/5/2015
This is How We Fought in Gaza 2014 - Soldiers’ Testimonies from Operation “Protective Edge”
Today, May 4th, 2015, “Breaking the Silence,” an organization of Israeli soldiers, is releasing testimonies from over 60 officers and soldiers who took part in Operation “Protective Edge” in Gaza during the summer of 2014. These testimonies paint a disturbing picture of the IDF’s policy of indiscriminate fire, which directly resulted in the deaths of hundreds of innocent Palestinian civilians.
The testimonies collected by Breaking the Silence paint a troubling picture of a drastic change in the IDF’s combat norms. The IDF’s guiding values such as the “Purity of Arms” principle —which mandates that soldiers use the minimum amount of force necessary and “maintain their humanity even in combat”— were devalued and even discarded by the IDF itself.
The rules of engagement relayed to the soldiers were the most permissive Breaking the Silence has ever heard.
Many soldiers testified that the orders that they received were to shoot to kill every person sighted in the area.
The soldiers were given misleading information, according to which IDF activities were to take place in areas cleared of civilians. In reality, the forces entered areas in which innocent civilians, and sometimes even entire families, remained.
Throughout the Operation, the IDF fired thousands of imprecise artillery shells into residential neighborhoods.
Throughout the Operation, the IDF carried out mass destruction of civilian infrastructure and homes. In many cases, this destruction occurred without any clear operational justification and after the ground forces had already “cleared” and left the area. -- See also: Breaking the Silence: This is How We Fought in Gaza, Full Report more.. e-mail Israeli police violence against Ethiopian anti-violence march
Marianne Azizi, Redress 5/4/2015
During my visit to Israel to collect material for my new book, it turned out there would be an unexpected chapter.
I am writing this article without looking at a single news report from any news channel or reading a single word on social media. I don’t want to be biased. I was there and saw it all with my own eyes.
Last night, Sunday 3 May, I arrived in Rabin Square to witness a throng of over 10,000 people who were singing and chanting for change. “Medina mishtara” was the call – “police state”. They were calling for no violence.
Their reason to come out on to the streets was, first, in reaction to recent violence by the police against an Ethiopian named Damas Pakada. He was caught on camera having been beaten by police and it was the last straw.
Another reason is that over 51 per cent of the Ethiopians are being watched by the Revaha – the Israeli social services. This is not unique in Israel. There is a huge child trafficking problem in the country, with approximately 33 children taken into private institutions daily. The Ethiopian people serve in the army, risking their lives, yet in everyday life are not even allowed into nightclubs.
On 30 April, a thousand of them marched in Jerusalem. The sight of demonstrations or protests is rare in Israel. The last time Israelis protested in large numbers was in March 2011 over the price of cottage cheese.
There was a slight envy in some of the Israelis I spoke to. They recognised the problems and felt they suffered from the same. Yet, despite their own constant complaining they are a passive people when it comes to demonstrating for their rights. There was a festive atmosphere as people were singing, waving the Israeli and Ethiopian flags and showing their solidarity. more.. e-mail
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