The testimonies of 60 Israeli service members have exposed alleged misconduct during the 50-day war against Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip in the Summer of 2014.
Human rights group, Breaking The Silence, released the first-person accounts Monday, detailing the experiences of anonymous soldiers who served fought in the conflict. During Israel’s Operation Protective Edge, 2,200 Palestinians were killed, the majority of whom were civilians. The engagement also led to the deaths of 66 Israeli soldiers and six civilians, according to The Washington Post.
The short war began when the Israeli military responded to rocket fire from Hamas, a terrorist organization in Gaza. Israel responded with bombing and then a short ground campaign. Hamas reportedly used “human shields and hid rocket launchers, weapons and fighters in schools, mosques and hospitals,” writes Washington Post’s Jerusalem bureau chief, William Booth.
The testimonies raise questions about the rules of engagement issued down the chain of Israeli command.
“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.”
“We heard about an old man who went in the direction of a house held by a different force; [the soldiers] didn’t really know what to do so they went up to him. This guy, 70 or 80 years old, turned out to be booby-trapped from head to toe. From that moment on the protocol was very, very clear: shoot toward the feet. And if they don’t go away, shoot to kill.”
“We were firing purposelessly all day long. Hamas was nowhere to be seen – it’s not like they stood up on some roof for you holding a sign that says, ‘We are Hamas militants.’ You have no idea what’s going on, and because you don’t, your human nature is to be scared and ‘over’ defensive, so you ‘overshoot.’”
“There was a force that identified two figures walking in an orchard… The commander asked to confirm, “What do you see,” and whether they were incriminated or not… The lookouts couldn’t see well so the commander sent a drone up to look from above, and the drone implicated them. It saw them with phones, talking, walking. They directed fire there, on those girls, and they were killed. After they were implicated, I had a feeling it was bullshit.
“They check the bodies, and it was two women, over age 30. The bodies of two women, and they were unarmed. He came back and we moved on, and they were listed as terrorists. They were fired at – so of course, they must have been terrorists…”
“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.”
“I know there was one platoon where everyone – from the commander all the way down – took dumps in pots, out of some kind of operational principle. Whatever.”
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