Israeli army to probe conduct of soldiers

The newspaper said the military is examining nearly 100 complaints from soldiers who participated in the devastating onslaught on besieged Gaza and its 1.5 million Palestinians,  At least 1,500 Palestinians, most of them civilians, and 10 Israelis were killed during the war that left in ruins residential neighbourhoods, schools, hospitals, ministries and parliament.

According to Palestinian human rights organisations, among the Palestinians killed at least 936 were civilians and 313 children. Another 45 are missing and believed to be buried in the rubble of collapsed buildings. Although lists of the fatalities have been published, Israel claims that a majority of the dead were fighters from the Hamas movement and its allies. Israel has included some 180 civilian police in its tally.

In a report published this month, ‘Breaking the Silence’, an Israeli group seeking to curb Israeli army violations of Palestinian human rights, said that the military issued very lax rules of engagement ahead of the Gaza war. Consequently, soldiers deployed in the Strip, the most densely populated territory on earth, bombed or shot at any and all targets. 

Following interviews from 26 soldiers who served in the Gaza operation, ‘Breaking the Silence’ said that the Israeli army had used Palestinians as human shields in violation of Israeli law, fired phosphorus shells over and into civilian areas, and used overwhelming firepower to cause massive death and destruction. The organisation also said soldiers looted Palestinian homes and beat Palestinian prisoners. 

The Israeli daily Haaretz reported this week that the Israeli government has complained to the British and Dutch governments about financial support for ‘Breaking the Silence’, an organisation of Israeli serving and reserve soldiers. The army command's aim was to keep Israeli casualties at a minimum. Among the 10 Israeli dead, only three soldiers were killed by enemy fire. Four died from "friendly fire." Three civilians were killed by Palestinian rockets fired into the south of the country.

Amnesty International recently accused both Israeli forces and Hamas of war crimes but the weight of criticism fell on Israel which sent tanks and troops into Gaza while attacking from the air and sea.

DH News Service

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