Soldiers sound the air horn
Israeli soldiers have spoken up about the atrocities committed in Gaza. Linda Heard, a commentator for Arab News, asks that we listen and act.
July 21, 2009 4:07 by Linda Heard
“The guys would simply break stuff. Some were out to destroy and trash the whole time. They drew a disgusting drawing on the wall. They threw out sofas. They took down a picture from the wall just to shatter it. They really couldn’t see why they shouldn’t … We were allowed to do anything we want. Who’s to tell us not to?”
“When you enter a house on a mapping action, the family look at you but here you didn’t know if this was a terrorist’s house at all. So the assumption is that everyone is a terrorist and then it’s legitimate to do just anything we please.”
Others reported widespread use of civilian human shields forced to break into neighboring homes suspected of being booby trapped or of containing armed men, which is a recognized war crime, as is the use of white phosphorus in a congested civilian area.
Another recounted how an unarmed old man carrying a torch was gunned down on the orders of his superior who refused to allow deterrent fire as the man approached. His was a scream I will never forget as long as I live, said the interviewee.
The report’s many detractors say it is unreliable due to the anonymity of witnesses but, in fact, it merely confirms earlier revelations from graduates of the Yitzhak Rabin Pre-Military Academy who spoke of the cold-blooded murder of Gaza civilians.
As a result, the academy’s director Danny Zamir was smeared and vilified as someone who aids Israel’s enemies. As expected the IDF was exonerated by a judge who closed a military police investigation into accounts of human rights violations by troops in Gaza.
If the Israeli authorities are determined to carry on in the same vein while burying evidence of war crimes, crimes against humanity and human rights violations, then the international community is surely obliged to take a firm stance in order to protect the helpless victims of any future conflict. If current legal channels, such as the International Criminal Court, are not empowered to hold Israel – or any other state potentially guilty of similar crimes – accountable, then new structures should be instituted.
Israeli soldiers themselves have spoken loud and clear and in many cases they are victims too because they will have to live with the horrible things they’ve seen and done for the rest of their lives. We should hear them.
First seen in Arab News.