Thursday, July 16, 2009

Testimonies from Gaza

Breaking the Silence has realeased a booklet of testimonies about from 26 IDF soldiers concerning the assault on Gaza. BBC story here.

It would probably be hard to find better commentary than that provided by Jerry Haber, starting with this post. His main conclusions drawn from the booklet:
According to these testimonies the IDF soldiers did not generally adhere even to the IDF Rules of Engagement.

...the policy was to shoot first and not ask questions later.

White phosphorus was used against international conventions.

The devastation was enormous, on an unprecedented scale in the Israeli warfare.

Vandalism was unreported

Gazans were used as human shields, despite being outlawed by the Israel High Court
His subsequent posts are (and no doubt will continue to be) also worth reading. In this one, Jerry Haber explains some of the background, and why Breaking the Silence is very pointedly not pursuing these allegations through established legal channels:
BtS was founded about five years ago, during the Second Intifada. It started with a photo exhibition of IDF soldiers in Hebron. That exhibition made front page headlines. At one point, the IDF seized the pictures and said it would try the soldiers who had participated in illegal activities against the Hebronites. After the pictures were returned to the group by an embarrassed IDF, the group was invited to the Knesset to present the exhibition. They were invited to military preparatory programs to talk about their work. They were almost national heroes. And the group thought, naively, that things would change.

They didn't. The IDF's conduct only worsened.

I don't think that the IDF, under the present circumstances, can be seriously reformed.
And this one, concerning white phosphorous. The summary of the IDF's shifting official statements on white phosphorous reads like a parody of propaganda.

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