Israel to probe soldiers” for using excessive force during Gaza operation

March 21st, 2009 - 5:59 pm ICT by ANI  

Tel Aviv (Israel), Mar.21 (ANI): After repeatedly rebuffing charges of having committed war crimes in its recent war against Hamas in Gaza, a stunned Israel has changed track and instructed its military prosecutor to launch a criminal investigation into the alleged deliberate killing of women, children, and elderly non-combatants by Israeli soldiers.
According to a report in the Christian Science Monitor (CSM), this marks the first acknowledgement by Israel of possible misdeeds in a war that left 1,300 Gazans dead, thousands more injured, and billions of dollars worth of property damaged.
“I hope there’’s an in-depth investigation into this issue,” Education Minister Yuli Tamir told the Ha”aretz newspaper.
“This needs to be checked out immediately and openly, and if there’’s a grain of truth in it, it must be protested,” he added. Earlier this month, the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court at The Hague said that he is mulling an investigation in to allegations of war crimes in Gaza.
The anecdotal testimony, which was submitted to the army last month and then published in the military prep school’’s bulletin, contradicts the military’’s portrayal of soldiers as trying to minimize civilian casualties wherever possible.
In one instance, soldiers killed a woman and two children at a distance of 100 to 200 yards away because they had misunderstood the army instructions on how to leave the combat zone.
Another veteran described an officer who ordered machine-gunners to fire at an elderly woman who was also positioned far away.
In the testimony, the soldiers admitted that excessive force was used because the lives of Palestinian civilians were valued far less than those of the soldiers.
“I was shocked,” said an Israeli military spokesperson, who requested to remain anonymous.
“Some of the stuff described there is far from the rules of the engagement that I know,” he added. (ANI)

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