Breaking the Silence, the Israeli army veterans’ organization has released a report containing testimonies of 60 IDF soldiers and officers who fought during Operation Protective Edge last July and August. Now, for the first time, Israeli soldiers have described the orders they received for fighting in civilian areas – orders that treated any Palestinian as a threat.
Among those who have spoken out is a 22-year-old sergeant who served in a tank during Operation Protective Edge. Launched by Israel on July 8, 2014, 7 weeks of Israeli bombardment of Gaza killed over 2200 people, most of them civilians.
This is How We Fought in Gaza 2014- Soldiers’ Testimonies from Operation “Protective Edge”
Today, May 4th, 2015, “Breaking the Silence,” an organization of Israeli soldiers, is releasing testimonies from over 60 officers and soldiers who took part in Operation “Protective Edge” in Gaza during the summer of 2014. These testimonies paint a disturbing picture of the IDF’s policy of indiscriminate fire, which directly resulted in the deaths of hundreds of innocent Palestinian civilians.
The testimonies collected by Breaking the Silence paint a troubling picture of a drastic change in the IDF’s combat norms. The IDF’s guiding values such as the “Purity of Arms” principle —which mandates that soldiers use the minimum amount of force necessary and “maintain their humanity even in combat”— were devalued and even discarded by the IDF itself.
The rules of engagement relayed to the soldiers were the most permissive Breaking the Silence has ever heard.
Many soldiers testified that the orders that they received were to shoot to kill every person sighted in the area.
The soldiers were given misleading information, according to which IDF activities were to take place in areas cleared of civilians. In reality, the forces entered areas in which innocent civilians, and sometimes even entire families, remained.
Throughout the Operation, the IDF fired thousands of imprecise artillery shells into residential neighborhoods.
Throughout the Operation, the IDF carried out mass destruction of civilian infrastructure and homes. In many cases, this destruction occurred without any clear operational justification and after the ground forces had already “cleared” and left the area.
Many residential homes were shelled, from the ground and from the air, in order to “demonstrate presence in the area,” or even as an act of punishment.
The Director of Breaking the Silence, Yuli Novak, says:
“From the testimonies given by the officers and soldiers, a troubling picture arises of a policy of indiscriminate fire that led to the deaths of innocent civilians. We learn from the testimonies that there is a broad ethical failure in the IDF’s rules of engagement, and that this failure comes from the top of the chain of command, and is not merely the result of “rotten apples.” As officers and soldiers, we know that internal military investigations scapegoat simple soldiers rather than focusing on policy.
The public must know what missions its sons are being sent to carry out, and according to which norms the IDF acts in its name. We call for the establishment of an investigative committee external to the IDF, which will investigate the policy behind the rules of engagement given during “Protective Edge,” and the norms and values that stand at the base of this policy.’’
A moving human shield
IDF soldiers had tied a Palestinian to the hood of their jeep and drove through the village like that. Drove with him through the village, it’s horrific.
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“Anything still there is as good as dead”
We asked him: “I see someone walking in the street, do I shoot him?” He said yes. “Why do I shoot him?” “Because he isn’t supposed to be there. Nobody, no sane civilian who isn’t a terrorist, has any business being within 200 meters of a tank. And if he places himself in such a situation, he’s apparently up to something” continue reading ›
“What the hell, why did you have to shoot him again?”
“So an argument starts up: ‘What makes you an expert on death? What are you, some doctor?’ And then after that, some guy from the company went out and shot that man again, and that, for me, was the last straw. I don’t think there was a single guy in my platoon who wasn’t shocked by that. continue reading ›
All hell broke loose
Our instructions were: anyone seen after 9 p.m. or so descending towards the road, you shoot. Legs down. Every ambush of this sort goes out with a small marksman rifle.
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