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Voices After the Shots
HRW report reveals war-crimes in Gaza
Davide Torri (davide73)     Print Article 
Published 2009-08-22 06:00 (KST)   
This article is lightly edited.  <Editor's Note>
"You feel like an infantile little kid with a magnifying glass looking at ants, burning them."(1)

With these shocking words one month, Israeli soldiers chose to break their silence and started talking about the Cast Lead Operation which was unleashed by the Tsahal upon the Gaza Strip and the armed outfit governing it, Hamas.

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Their testimonies were gathered in a booklet released by a veteran soldiers association called "Breaking the Silence", of which aim was to collect testimonies of soldiers who served in the Occupied Territories. Many of them found themselves involved in a 'dirty war' which included, as a norm, the abuse of civilians, the destruction of Palestinian properties and often the deliberate killing of innocent people.

After the military campaign against Gaza at the beginning of the year, 54 testimonies were made public. They were testimonies that reveal a grim attitude and violence that transcended a purely militaristic (tactic or strategic) intent. Encouraged and accepted practices were deliberate destruction of houses and mosques, the use of white phosphorous into highly populated areas, and the avoidable killings of unarmed civilians.

As Mikhael Mankin from "Breaking the Silence" puts it: "The testimonies prove that the immoral way the war was carried out was due to the systems in place and not the individual soldier."

A system was developed to deprive young Israeli soldiers of their moral capability in order so that they use merciless and reckless force.

Few days ago another report was released by Human Rights Watch.(2) The 63-pages report, "White Flag Deaths", describes eleven cases of deliberate killings of civilians, women and children among them, who where shot at by the Israeli Army despite they were waving white flags.

The report was released after prolonged investigation and ballistic examinations, medical reports and witnesses interviews.

Eleven cases are but a small fraction of the Cast Lead casualties. But they were important, nonetheless, because they were well-documented cases of warm crimes, according to international law.

During the Cast Lead operation, over 1,100 Palestinians were killed, and thousands more injured. Needless to say, the vast majority of them were civilians.

Joe Stork, Director of the Middle East section at HRW, said, "The Israeli military is stonewalling in the face of evidence that its soldiers killed civilians waving white flags in areas it controlled and where there were no Palestinian fighters. These cases need thorough, independent investigations".

The Israeli Army authorities released a complaint against HRW, declaring that the report is based on false and unreliable witnesses. It is a claim that HRW strongly rejects.(3)

The HRW states, "The 63-page report is based on field investigations of seven incident sites in Gaza, including ballistic evidence found at the scene, medical records of victims, and lengthy interviews with multiple witnesses - at least three people separately for each incident."

"If the Israeli government wants to silence critics," said HRW Program Director Ian Levine, "it should fully investigate allegations of wrongdoing and take action to end the abuses."

Sources
1. http://www.shovrimshtika.org/news_item_e.asp?id=30
2. HRW, http://www.hrw.org/node/85113
3. http://www.hrw.org/en/news/2009/08/14/false-allegations-about-human-rights-watch-s-latest-gaza-report
©2009 OhmyNews
Other articles by reporter Davide Torri

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