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Redefining civilians and legitimate targets: Israeli soldiers testify on Gaza war

Two themes are present in almost all of the 60-plus testimonies collected by Breaking the Silence from Israeli soldiers who fought in the last Gaza war: loose rules of engagement and systematic, wanton destruction. But can the new documentation serve as a catalyst for change inside Israel? Internationally?

By Mairav Zonszein and Michael Schaeffer Omer-Man

An Israeli soldiers walk next to a tank in the Gaza Strip during 2014’s Operation Protective Edge. (Courtesy of Breaking the Silence)

An Israeli soldiers walk next to a tank in the Gaza Strip during 2014’s Operation Protective Edge. (Courtesy of Breaking the Silence)

Breaking the Silence, an Israeli organization of military veterans, released on Monday a collection of testimonies from nearly 70 soldiers and officers who participated in Operation Protective Edge in the Gaza Strip last summer.

It has been 10 months since the 50-day assault, which killed over 2,000 Palestinians, injured over 11,000, damaged or destroyed over 18,000 residential units and left more than 100,000 people homeless.

While the public debate in Israel has been all but silent regarding the operation, individual soldiers and officers began breaking their silence almost immediately after the final cease-fire went into effect.

Reading through the 136 pages of testimonies from soldiers and officers from nearly every involved division and brigade, two common denominators quickly become apparent. First is the massive, intentional and unnecessary destruction of homes and buildings throughout the Strip, but particularly in places that ground troops set foot.

One of the high rank commanders, he really liked the D9s [armored bulldozers]. He was a real proponent of flattening things. He put them to good use. Let’s just say that after every time he was somewhere, all the infrastructure around the buildings was totally destroyed, almost every house had gotten a shell through it. He was very much in favor of that

— Testimony #37

The second theme, central to nearly every testimony collected from nearly every unit involved in the fighting, was the massive volume and scope of fire employed.

The soldiers’ testimonies point — explicitly and implicitly — to an extremely lenient open-fire policy.

“If you spot someone, shoot.”

“They told us: ‘There aren’t supposed to be any civilians there’.”

“If you shoot someone in Gaza it’s cool, no big deal. First of all, because it’s Gaza, and second, because that’s warfare.”

— Testimony #17

According to estimates provided to and reached independently by Breaking the Silence, at least 35,000 artillery shells were fired during the operation. (Read more here on the use of artillery and “statistical weapons” in Gaza’s urban areas.)

Many soldiers describe the working assumption they were given by their commanders before entering Gaza: everyone is suspicious; no one in the combat zone is innocent.

Ahead of its ground assaults, the IDF dropped flyers from the air, shelled incessantly and even made phone calls to warn Palestinian civilians of the impending assault. The principle was that after such a warning, anyone who remained in that area was surely a terrorist.

Relatives walk amidst the rubble of the home of Zaki Wahdan in the city of Beit Hanoun, northern Gaza City, November 10, 2014. Eight members of the Wahdan family, mostly women and children were killed. (Photo by Anne Paq/Activestills.org)

Relatives walk amidst the rubble of the home of Zaki Wahdan in the city of Beit Hanoun, northern Gaza City, November 10, 2014. Eight members of the Wahdan family, mostly women and children were killed. (Photo by Anne Paq/Activestills.org)

The problems with that type of combat doctrine are too many to list, but here are two anyway. Firstly, there may very well be legitimate reasons why an innocent civilian would choose to stay in their home despite a warning, and many more reasons why an innocent civilian might not be able to leave, or have anywhere to go. Secondly, international humanitarian law does not allow for the reclassification of civilians as combatants simply because they did not heed a warning.

“If it looks like a man, shoot. It was simple: You’re in a motherfucking combat zone. A few hours before you went in the whole area was bombed, if there’s anyone there who doesn’t clearly look innocent, you apparently need to shoot that person.”

— Testimony #56

The official IDF rules of engagement normally require a soldier to identify weapon, intent and capability before opening fire, and often they need to get authorization from someone higher up. In many of the cases described in the testimonies, soldiers simply shot immediately at anything that moved.

In one case two women in their 30s were spotted walking through an orchard and gunned down. Even though no weapons were found on their bodies, the soldiers still classified them after the fact as terrorists. (Testimony 35)

A person seen in a window, or walking near the wall of a building, was automatically deemed suspicious and fired on. In some cases, these figures later turned out to be animals, or inanimate objects that had blown in the wind. (Testimonies 24 and 43)

In a number of cases soldiers positioned inside tanks were instructed to shoot off a shell or their heavy machine gun every 30 minutes or an hour, for the entire time they were deployed in Gaza. Sometimes the point was to make sure the Palestinians didn’t forget they were there; other times it was just to make sure the tank crew didn’t nod off for too long. (Testimony 32)

Palestinian children carry goods that were rescued from the village of Khuza'a, which has undergone of intense attacks and was largely destroyed during the Israeli offensive.

Palestinian children carry goods that were rescued from the village of Khuza’a, which underwent intense attacks and was largely destroyed during the Israeli offensive. (Activestills.org)

The testimonies tell the story of a calculated war doctrine, the guiding principal of which was to go in with as much force as possible in order to minimize Israeli military casualties — even when there was certainty that it meant harming Palestinian civilians, their property and civil infrastructure. Minimum risk.

That doctrine is evident from the results of the warfare, and from testimonies by Palestinians and human rights investigators. The testimonies collected by Breaking the Silence corroborate and even add a deeper understanding of those conclusions.

Neither of the phenomena revealed through the testimonies — massive destruction and minimal IDF casualties — are new. Tracing back through Israel’s contemporary military history from the First Lebanon War, Operation Defensive Shield in the West Bank, the pullout from southern Lebanon and the Gaza Strip, the Second Lebanon War and most recently, operations Cast Lead and Pillar of Defense, the slow but steady evolution in military doctrine is visible: minimum Israeli military casualties with a corresponding increasing level of acceptable deaths among non-Israeli civilians. Massive bombardments and intentional destruction was seen, incrementally increasing, in Beirut in 2006, Gaza in 2008-9, and ultimately reaching its zenith in Gaza this past summer.

The testimonies, and the indications they give regarding the way Israel approaches guerrilla urban warfare as well as terrorist threats and challenges, tell a story about Israel’s political and military leaders, and about Israeli society. The political and military leadership does not have a solution to its Gaza problem. A strategy that used to be called “mowing the lawn” is no longer enough — the growing levels of destruction are never enough to create any sustainable deterrence, and the diplomatic risk corresponds to Israel’s increasing levels of violence.

Another story told by the testimonies, which admittedly are only excerpts of the full statements and interviews from the soldiers, show a level of apathy toward the “enemy population” that one expects to hear from combatants of any army, but which directly challenges the mythology of the IDF as the “most moral army in the world.” A parallel phenomenon is the role Israeli society plays in the changes to the IDF’s moral calculations and war doctrine. Once upon a time, following the Sabra and Shatila massacre, Israeli society set the boundaries of what it would accept from its military — its peoples’ army. This past summer, the Israeli media systematically refused to even acknowledge the destruction the army was wreaking in Gaza, and anti-war protests were met with violent counter-protests the likes of which hadn’t been seen in decades.

There has been no shortage of testimonies from Palestinian civilians about the horrors that rained down on Gaza this past summer (read here and watch here, for example). And while the Israeli perspective is far-too-often given disproportionate weight — or an exclusive platform — in relation to the Palestinian conflict, these testimonies nevertheless serve a crucial role, both within Israeli society and internationally.

Perhaps as an inherent consequence of the conflict, neither Israelis nor Palestinians tend to believe the other side’s narrative and even their “facts.” So the fact that Israelis, Israeli soldiers, are telling their own society what was done in their name, is vital if there is ever to be an internal movement for change, and certainly if there is ever to be any reconciliation process.

Externally, for those Palestinians seeking justice, the testimonies could ultimately play a significant role in legal redress for any alleged war crimes. In a Haaretz interview with legal scholar Aeyal Gross last week, ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said that her office’s current preliminary examination process into the Gaza war, “will proceed on the basis of available reliable information. We will be looking at all credible and reliable sources of information.” And although the Israeli military censor compelled Breaking the Silence to remove any identifying information from its testimonies, their credibility and detail could still prove invaluable should an international criminal investigation be initiated.

Read the full report here.

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    COMMENTS

    1. Pedro X

      Anonymous testimonials are not worth much. One cannot question the individuals who make various claims nor can one assess if they were in a position to draw the conclusions they did. Waiting 9 months to bring forward stories, also makes it more difficult to investigate. BTS is an unreliable source of information.

      The IDF issued this response to the report:

      “The IDF is committed to properly investigating all credible​ claims ​raised via media, NGOs, and official complaints concerning IDF conduct ​during operation Protective Edge, in as serious a manner as possible.

      Today, as in the past, the organization Breaking the Silence has been asked to provide any evidence or testimony related to IDF activities prior to publication, in order for genuine investigations to be carried out. Unfortunately, as in the past, Breaking the Silence has refused to provide the IDF with any proof of their claims.

      For obvious reasons such conduct makes any investigation by the relevant IDF bodies impossible, and does not allow for the claims and incidents brought up to be dealt with in an immediate ​and appropriate manner.

      This pattern of collecting evidence over an extended period of time and refusing to share it with the IDF in a manner that would allow a proper response and, if required, an investigation indicates that contrary to its claims, this organization does not act with the intention of correcting any wrongdoings it allegedly uncovered, therefore we are unable to respond to th​e allegations raised.

      As in the past, the IDF calls on Breaking the Silence to turn to the relevant parties in the IDF immediately upon receiving complaints and evidence that raise suspicion of improper conduct or offenses, to allow investigation of events in due process.

      It should be noted that following Operation Protective Edge, thorough investigations were carried out, and soldiers and commanders were given the opportunity to present any complaint. Exceptional ​incidents were ​then transferred to the Military Advocate General for further inquiry.”

      Reply to Comment
      • Shlomo

        BTS did their own investigations to make sure the claims were truthful. Why would BTS reveal the identities of sources that wanted to operate under anonymity, likely for fear of retribution by the depraved leadership of the IDF and Israeli government?

        Expecting the IDF to investigate their own crimes is ridiculous. It seems that to Zionist shills the only acceptable forms of testimony on what happened in Gaza must come from Israeli war criminals.

        Reply to Comment
        • Ginger Eis

          “BTS did their own investigations to make sure the claims were truthful”.

          False. BTS is known for making criminal allegations unsupported by the facts and the law. Over the years BTS has time and time again been demonstratively proven to be wrong regarding the allegations it puts forward with the goal of smearing the IDF and demonizing the Jewish State. At your request I will be happy to supply you as many evidence as is reasonable. You might want to begin with the Goldstone 500-page-Report. That report was authored by Judge Goldstone who had integrity, the moral courage and the honesty to renounce and reject his own report, because said report, it later emerged, was based on false “evidence”. BTS was one of the major providers of said false “evidence”. Only International anti-Jewish lynch-mob and little street-thugs like yourself cheer BTS. No respectable attorneys/judges put any evidentiary value on anything BTS has got to say.

          Here is also a link you might want to read to enlighten yourself – that is, IF you are not too consumed by hate and furry to be rational. Here you go:

          Read. And Weep!

          http://honestreporting.com/breaking-the-silence-more-rumor-hearsay-2/

          Reply to Comment
          • Yeah, Right

            Shlomo: “BTS did their own investigations to make sure the claims were truthful”.

            Ginger: “False. BTS is known for making criminal allegations unsupported by the facts and the law.”

            Hmmm, this news article would suggest that Shlomo is correct and Ginger has no idea what she is talking about:
            http://www.timesofisrael.com/likud-mk-lies-to-lefty-ngo-in-attempt-to-embarrass-it/

            BTS does appear to do its due-diligence.
            Pity Ginger can’t say the same……

            Reply to Comment
          • Ginger Eis

            YeahRight

            Your source (a) solidifies my presentation and (b) contradicts your claim. Here is what your source says:

            “An investigation by Channel 10 published Tuesday revealed that the fabricated account had been given not by Asaf Hazan, but rather by Oren Hazan, who was elected to Knesset last month on the Likud party’s 30th slot. Hazan later admitted he had provided false testimony to Breaking the Silence, but insisted that his made-up description had in fact been published.”

            IOWS

            BTS ran with the bogus story to Chanel 10. Chanel 10 did the Investigation and busted Mr. Hazan, not BTS!

            Yous claim fails, yet again.

            Reply to Comment
          • Ben

            Wow. This is an inversion of the truth. Breaking the Silence did not publish the imposter’s claims, because it found him not credible. This is clear. Breaking the Silence, if it went to Channel 10, went to it with the story of Hazan’s fraud.

            Eis, here you are, regarding a story about fraud, engaging in what looks like sneaky fraudulence. Wow.

            Please show us where Breaking the Silence published Hazan’s fraudulent claims.

            Additionally, please substantiate the claim that “BTS ran with the bogus story to Chanel 10.” If you can’t, please apologize. A failure to reply will of course tell the story.
            Thanks.

            Reply to Comment
        • Ginger Eis

          “Why would BTS reveal the identities of sources that wanted to operate under anonymity, …likely for fear of retribution by the depraved leadership of the IDF and Israeli government?”

          Here is why:

          a. Because that’s how it is done in a society based on the Rule Of Law, not the anarchy wherein you breed;

          b. Because the Jewish State is a country founded on the Rule of Law and Democracy. The Jewish State is obligated by both domestic and International law to investigate the allegations put forward by BTS and bring the culprits to justice if the allegations are founded.

          c. Because the Israeli Military Advocate is – in accordance with both the Laws of State Of Israel and International law – invested with the powers to investigate alleged crimes and bring delinquent soldiers to justice if there is evidence that they have committed crimes as alleged. BTS is not. The Military Advocate has always prosecuted delinquent soldiers and, beyond that, protects the anonymity of witnesses as required by law – if the legal requirements for anonymity are met.

          d. Because, bearing the above in mind, BTS’s concerns are not the safety of its “witnesses”, but its raison d’être: smearing and demonizing the IDF and the Jewish State with false allegations from “witnesses” who may or may not exist in exchange for hundreds of thousands of dollars yearly from those are either hostile to Israel or want to see the demise of the Jewish State.

          I put it to you, “Shlomo” that you are the one who is “depraved”, not the leadership of the IDF and the Israeli government as you foolishly claimed.

          Reply to Comment
          • Ben

            Breaking The Silence is comprised of IDF soldiers, Eis. To state the obvious and powerful thing about Breaking The Silence. You are smearing IDF soldiers, Eis. No one but no one with any sense believes the smear.

            Reply to Comment
          • Yeah, Right

            Ginger, your arguments are fatuous, lacking all validity UNTIL the Judge Advocate opens a criminal investigation.

            He refuses to do so, and for as long as he refuses then Breaking The Silense is under no obligation – either moral or legal – to hand over those names.

            The IDF needs to open a criminal investigation and **then** demand those names, and it’s only **then** that a refusal to release those names would be open to valid criticism.

            Reply to Comment
          • Ben

            Breaking The Silence: “The many attempts by public bodies and individuals to discredit us and the soldiers of the IDF who testified before us will always fail, due to the fact that in our system, as part of the organization’s professional work, all accounts are carefully and rigorously examined in order to ensure reliability.”
            http://www.timesofisrael.com/likud-mk-lies-to-lefty-ngo-in-attempt-to-embarrass-it/

            Reply to Comment
        • Ginger Eis

          “BTS did their own investigations to make sure the claims were truthful”.

          For whatever reason, my posts are not showing up. I will thus just post this link that tells you that you claim is false. BTS has in the past been proven to engage in a campaign of smear and demonization of the Jewish State with completely made-up “testimonies”, time and time again.

          Read. And Weep!

          http://honestreporting.com/breaking-the-silence-more-rumor-hearsay-2/

          (Ignore if my previous posts miraculously show up)

          Reply to Comment
      • Yeah, Right

        PX: “Anonymous testimonials are not worth much.”

        Funny, because newspapers report the testimony of anonymous officials all the time.

        Dude, the BTS report is not a police brief nor is it the opening statement of a criminal prosecutor’s case to the court. It is what it is, and it does not pretend to be anything more than that.

        PX: “One cannot question the individuals who make various claims nor can one assess if they were in a position to draw the conclusions they did.”

        Neither is necessary to open a Judge Advocate’s criminal investigation into the allegations, at which point that office can then request the names of those who made those statements.

        Surely BTS would have to comply with such a request, because to do otherwise would be to obstruct a criminal investigation.

        But you appear to want to put the cart before the horse.

        PX: “Waiting 9 months to bring forward stories, also makes it more difficult to investigate.”

        No doubt true. But remind me again what you think of the Merrian and Schmidtt’s Hagiography of the IDF’s Conduct?

        Because by my reckoning that pair waited 8 months before bringing forward their uncritical ode to The Most Moral Army In The World.

        Slip showing, perhaps, Pedro?

        PX: “BTS is an unreliable source of information.”

        No, they appear to be quite reliable:
        http://www.timesofisrael.com/likud-mk-lies-to-lefty-ngo-in-attempt-to-embarrass-it/

        Apparently they do their due-diligence, which is more than the IDF’s Judge Advocate appears to be prepared to do.

        Maybe you meant that: BTS is a source of unreliable information?

        But that’s something altogether different. Just ask Likud party MK Oren Hazan.

        Reply to Comment
        • BigCat

          Another series of incoherent mumbo jumbo from “year right”. Let’s start deconstructing “yeah right” once again:
          Yeah right: “PX: Anonymous testimonials are not worth much.” Funny, because newspapers report the testimony of anonymous officials all the time. Dude, the BTS report is not a police brief nor is it the opening statement of a criminal prosecutor’s case to the court. It is what it is, and it does not pretend to be anything more than that.”

          Here you are committing a fallacy of false comparison, “yeah right”, assuming you even understand what that means. Pedro is talking about “testimonials” here whereby one accuses another of crimes. Got that, “yeah right”? According to the (case) law of civilized nations, “anonymous testimonials” from one party accusing another party of crimes are in- and of themselves not worth anything, as Pedro correctly said. The fact that “newspapers report the testimony of anonymous officials all the time” (whatever that is) is completely irrelevant in this context. Your claims fail, moron.

          Reply to Comment
          • Yeah, Right

            BigCat: “According to the (case) law of civilized nations, “anonymous testimonials” from one party accusing another party of crimes are in- and of themselves not worth anything”

            In a court of law, sure, I agree.

            But we’re not talking here about a court of law, BigCat, precisely because in this case the IDF is refusing to open an investigation.

            Q: In a civilized nation is an “anonymous tip” that a crime has been committed enough to open a police criminal investigation?
            A: Why, yes. Yes, it is.

            BC: “The fact that “newspapers report the testimony of anonymous officials all the time” (whatever that is) is completely irrelevant in this context. ”

            Ahem. You’ve never heard of the phrase “whistle-blower”, BigCat.

            I can assure that newspaper reports of the testimony of anonymous officials have, indeed, led to the opening of criminal investigations and have, indeed, led to the conviction of other officials.

            Watergate, anyone?

            Reply to Comment
        • BigCat

          Another series of incoherent mumbo jumbo from “year right”. Let’s start deconstructing “yeah right” once again:

          Yeah right: “PX: Anonymous testimonials are not worth much.” Funny, because newspapers report the testimony of anonymous officials all the time. Dude, the BTS report is not a police brief nor is it the opening statement of a criminal prosecutor’s case to the court. It is what it is, and it does not pretend to be anything more than that.”

          Here you are committing a fallacy of false comparison, “yeah right”, assuming you even understand what that means. Pedro is talking about “testimonials” here whereby one accuses another of crimes. Got that, moron? According to the (case) law of civilized nations, “anonymous testimonials” from one party accusing another party of crimes are in- and of themselves not worth anything, as Pedro correctly said. The fact that “newspapers report the testimony of anonymous officials all the time” (whatever that means) is completely irrelevant to the discussion and neither contradicts nor affirms anything. Your claims fail, moron.

          Reply to Comment
    2. phil

      @pedro.. read the article “the Israeli military censor compelled Breaking the Silence to remove any identifying information from its testimonies”

      Reply to Comment
      • Pedro X

        Nothing prevented BTS from giving the IDF in real time the testimonies of the soldiers and their names to investigate immediately after obtaining same to permit the IDF to investigate and determine whether the complained act should be referred to Military Advocate General for further inquiry.

        Reply to Comment
        • Shlomo

          Who cares if the IDF could investigate or not? BTS did their own investigations to verify the veracity of the testimony. Not to mention the wealth of information from sources like HRW, Amnesty, DCIP, and PHR that confirm much of what is in these testimonies, that the IDF carried out deliberate attacks on civilians on Gaza.

          Reply to Comment
          • Ginger Eis

            “Who cares if IDF could investigate or not”, you ask, “Shlomo”? I will tell you who cares:

            a. The People and the State of Israel care;
            b. World Jewry cares;
            c. The men and women of Good Will around the world care;
            d. The Laws Of The Jewish State and International Law mandate proper IDF Investigation. That’s why we all care.
            e. Obviously, the International anti-Jewish lynch-mob does not care. We understand that and your irrational and emotional tantrums are wholly and utterly inconsequential, “Shlomo”.

            Reply to Comment
          • Ben

            It is a scandal isn’t it, Eis? IDF soldiers, good boys, honorable men, standing up and breaking the silence. Something is rotten. Folks here just disagree on what’s rotten. But you don’t have to go all paranoid and apocalyptic and invoke “World Jewry” versus “the International anti-Jewish lynch-mob.” Good grief. These are just good Israeli soldiers and they are doing something simple and powerful.

            Reply to Comment
        • No, Pedro, BTS could hardly provide information “in real time,” which I guess means during conflict, for these soldiers giving testimony were likely mostly in the field; nor would command give much weight to BTS pleas during operations. As to giving the IDF this information generally–they have it, witness the enforced redaction of names.

          Reply to Comment
        • Yeah, Right

          Perhaps Pedro might want to read the IDF’s sorry excuses again.

          IDF: “Today, as in the past, the organization Breaking the Silence has been asked to provide any evidence or testimony related to IDF activities prior to publication,”….

          Note the trick i.e. the phrase that was used is “prior to publication”, which means that the IDF is complaining about nothing.

          That’s axiomatic, since the IDF isn’t claiming that BTS is refusing to cooperate with an IDF investigation. No. The IDF is merely complaining that BTS won’t provide the IDF with those names.

          But in the absence of an IDF criminal investigation Breaking The Silence is under no obligation (legal or otherwise) to do so, and doing so would amount to nothing more – nor less – than an open invitation to the IDF to pressure those soldiers into recanting.

          IDF: …”in order for genuine investigations to be carried out.”

          Whining about not being able to investigate before those testimonies becomes public-knowledge is a nonsense.

          Nothing prevents the IDF from opening a genuine criminal investigation AFTER those testimonies are brought to its attention, just as it would AFTER all credible allegation of illegal activity is brought to its attention.

          IDF: “Unfortunately, as in the past, Breaking the Silence has refused to provide the IDF with any proof of their claims.”

          You start an investigation with an “accusation”, and the purpose of the investigation is then to see if you can uncover the “proof”.

          If you can then the accusation turns into “a criminal indictment”, and off to court you go.

          If you can’t then the accusation remains simply that, and you close the book.

          But you are trying to find out if there is any “proof for the allegation”, you aren’t demanding that the proof be handed to you (presumably on a silver platters and tied up with pretty pink ribbons) before you’ll deign to get off you hairy yellow butt.

          IDF: “For obvious reasons such conduct makes any investigation by the relevant IDF bodies impossible, and does not allow for the claims and incidents brought up to be dealt with in an immediate ​and appropriate manner.”

          Why is that “obvious”, exactly?

          The testimonies detail allegations of illegality.

          The IDF is perfectly capable of opening a genuine criminal investigation into those allegations, at which point it can say to BTS that a refusal to hand over those names is an obstruction of justice.

          But, so sorry, that’s where Pedro has it wrong: until the IDF opens that genuine criminal investigation then BTS can not be criticised for refusing to assist the IDF in its efforts to root out whistle-blowers.

          Reply to Comment
          • BigCat

            Yet another series of rambling mumbo jumbo from “Yeah right”. We will continue the deconstruction and take the mumbo jumbos one by one, one after the other. Let’s begin with this one:

            On the one hand, “yeah right” rambled:
            “Neither is necessary to open a Judge Advocate’s criminal investigation into the allegations, at which point that office can then request the names of those who made those statements. Surely BTS would have to comply with such a request, because to do otherwise would be to obstruct a criminal investigation.”

            On the other hand “yeah right” rambles:
            “IDF: “Today, as in the past, the organization Breaking the Silence has been asked to provide any evidence or testimony related to IDF activities prior to publication,”…. Note the trick i.e. the phrase that was used is “prior to publication”, which means that the IDF is complaining about nothing. That’s axiomatic, since the IDF isn’t claiming that BTS is refusing to cooperate with an IDF investigation. No. The IDF is merely complaining that BTS won’t provide the IDF with those names. But in the absence of an IDF criminal investigation Breaking The Silence is under no obligation (legal or otherwise) to do so, ….”

            Question

            Which one is it, “Yeah right”? BTS is cooperating with the IDF, but at the same time BTS is not cooperating with the IDF. BTS is obligated by law to cooperate with the IDF, but at the same time BTS is not obligated by law to cooperate with the IDF. The IDF is complaining about “nothing”, but at the same time the IDF is complaining about ‘something’, etc. Which one is it, moron? Why the constant rambling, internally incoherent mumbo jumbo that has no basis in law – even as you pretend to know the law?

            Reply to Comment
          • Yeah, Right

            BC: “Which one is it, “Yeah right”? BTS is cooperating with the IDF, but at the same time BTS is not cooperating with the IDF.”

            *sigh*

            And YOU talk about incoherent?

            Read my post again: I said that WHEN the IDF opens a genuine criminal investigation THEN Breaking The Silence is obliged to co-operate with that investigation. I also said that UNTIL that genuine criminal investigation is opened Breaking The Silence is under no obligations toward the IDF whatsoever.

            There is absolutely no contradiction in those two positions, and you display stunning stupidity by claiming that there is.

            Reply to Comment
          • BigCat

            Yeah right: “IDF: “Unfortunately, as in the past, Breaking the Silence has refused to provide the IDF with any proof of their claims.” You start an investigation with an “accusation”, and the purpose of the investigation is then to see if you can uncover the “proof”. If you can then the accusation turns into “a criminal indictment”, and off to court you go. If you can’t then the accusation remains simply that, and you close the book.”

            Obviously “yeah right” does not know the meaning of rule of law and criminal law procedure. In “yeah right”s mumbo jumbo world, rule of law means that you first publish a report smearing someone publicly with malicious crimes and AFTER the damage has been done then start to investigate “to see if you can uncover the proof”. And “if you can then the accusation turns into a criminal indictment”. Wow, such a moron. Hilarious….

            Reply to Comment
          • Ben

            It’s a compilation of reports from the field by honorable IDF soldiers of their own experience in the field. All of these soldiers sound responsible, upright, sane and level headed. How is that a smear?

            Reply to Comment
          • Yeah, Right

            Ben, the man is an idiot.

            A credible accusation of a crime is enough to open a police criminal investigation, and only an idiot would claim otherwise.

            The key word is “credible”, and so the only question is whether (or not, as the case may be) Breaking The Silence is a credible organization that is compiling testimonies from credible witnesses.

            The IDF says “No”. BigCat says “No”. But I repeat myself.

            Reply to Comment
          • Ben

            Yes. Credibility. And these reports ooze credibility, they have the realism and sensibility and authority that comes with being trained soldiers on the ground.

            Reply to Comment
          • BigCat

            If you have – and I quote you – “a credible accusation of a crime” you go to the authorities with all you’ve got and ask them to look into it/investigate it and take appropriate action as required by law. That is the demand of the rule of law. You don’t first smear and demonize your “accused” and then ask the authorities to investigate after you have already publicly damaged his reputation and image with your public “accusation”. That’s just not right, you delusional moron, because your “accused” might in fact be innocent!

            Btw.

            Israel has been investigating Gaza war before, during and after BTS published its screed of allegations. See e.g. http://www.upi.com/Top_News/World-News/2014/09/10/Israel-begins-criminal-investigations-of-Gaza-war/5391410367620/.

            Stop lying, idiot.

            Reply to Comment
          • Yeah, Right

            BC: “If you have – and I quote you – “a credible accusation of a crime” you go to the authorities with all you’ve got and ask them to look into it/investigate it and take appropriate action as required by law”

            Is it now? Care to quote that law?

            The little rider you put in – “as required by law” – are you referring to the people making the accusation? Or are you referring to “the authorities”?

            BC: “That is the demand of the rule of law.”

            What is, BigCat?

            Is that a “demand” made of those who have made the accusation?
            Or is that a “demand” made of the authorities who are given All You’ve Got?

            Which one, BigCat?

            Reply to Comment
          • BigCat

            Section 58, 59, 63 and 64 of the 1982 Israeli Criminal Law Procedure Law [as amended in 2002]:
            – Any person is entitle to file a criminal investigation with the police
            – The police is obligated to investigate and bring the criminal to justice
            – A decision not to investigate or not to prosecute will be communicated to the complainant in writing, indicating the reason for the decision.

            Appeal
            Section 64 (A): The complainant will be entitled to appeal as follows, the decision not to investigate or bring to trial due to lack of public interest in the investigation or the trial, because insufficient evidence was found or when no guilt was determined:
            (1) The decision given by an investigating or prosecuting body as stipulated in sections 12(A)(1)(B) or (2) – before the district attorney, an attorney from the State Prosecutor’s Office appointed to direct the field of appeals or an attorney from the State Prosecutor’s Office ranked no less than “senior deputy A” to the state prosecutor and authorized by the state prosecutor for such;
            (2) The decision given by the district attorney or an attorney from the State Prosecutor’s Office not to bring to trial because of a lack of evidence or a lack of guilt, with the exception of a decision in an appeal in accordance with Paragraph (1) – before the state prosecutor;
            (3) The decision given by the state attorney or his deputy, not to bring to trial, with the exception of a decision on an appeal according to paragraph (2) and the decision made by the district attorney or an attorney from the State Prosecutor’s Office, not to bring to trial because of a lack of public interest, except for a decision on an appeal according to paragraph (1) – before the attorney general. (B) The attorney general will be entitled to delegate to the state prosecutor the authority granted to him under Subsection (A)(3), with the exception of matters pertaining to a decision by the state prosecutor, or to the deputy state prosecutor with the exception of matters pertaining to a decision by the state prosecutor or his deputy. The state prosecutor will be entitled to delegate to his deputy the authority granted to him under Subsection (A)(2), and the district attorney will be entitled, with approval from the state prosecutor, to delegate the authority granted to him under Subsection (A)(1) to an attorney ranked no lower than “senior deputy” to the district attorney.

            You need more, moron?

            Reply to Comment
    3. Shaun

      time for some real bravery from Breaking the Silence. If any of these soldiers who testified actually committed crimes with intent or out of negligence they should voluntarily present themselves to international prosecutors.
      This will create major impact in Israel and have far more consequences on Israeli actions than “brave” soldiers going on all expenses paid speaking tour around the world.

      Reply to Comment
    4. Pedro X

      Two military experts from the United States, John Merriam and Michael Schmidt, have released a draft report on Israeli targeting practice in Gaza. The report can be downloaded here:

      http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2596836

      The report supports Israeli targeting actions as being lawful in the context of armed conflict. The authors note:

      “As the dust settled, military professionals from the United States and several other countries carefully examined Israeli practices. They found much to commend about IDF operations, particularly the extent to which the IDF exercised restraint and the highly precise manner in which it conducted strikes. U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin Dempsey, noted that Israel “went to extraordinary lengths to limit collateral damage and civilian casualties”

      A JINSA-Commissioned Gaza Conflict Task Force, 2014 Gaza War Assessment conducted by senior US military figures also found that Israel conducted itself properly in Gaza.

      Many who are not familiar with the Laws of Armed Conflict and the laws of proportionality make the mistake of equating extensive damage with excessive and illegal damage. Newton and May in their book “Proportionality in International Law” make the point that extensive use of military force and resulting damage is not the same as excessive use or damage. One has to look at the military object and the military advantage expected to be gained in reaching that objective and weighing it against collateral civilian damage. One does not look at isolated incidents, but at the entire context of an operation to make conclusions whether Israeli actions were disproportionate to the military objective to be gained.

      The context was that Hamas chose an urban battlefield turning civilian areas into military complexes. Hamas chose to launch thousands of missiles at Israeli population centers by firing from civilian areas in Gaza. Hamas dug tunnels under civilian areas and used them for storing weapons, using them for their militants to access different parts of the battlefield, using them as potential areas to kidnap Israeli soldiers and to spirit them away and as means of entering Israel to carry out attacks. Hamas fought from civilian structures, stored missiles and other weapons and used them as command centers. Hamas also used areas next to civilian structures to fire rockets and mortars without any concern for civilians in the area or the fact that responding fire from Israeli forces might hit civilians in the area.

      Israel went to extraordinary lengths to warn Gaza of impending attacks against Hamas and its infrastructure in Gaza. It drop leaflets, it made announcements, it made phone calls and in many incidents it provided roof knocks before hitting a target. The majority of Gazans took the hint and went to other parts of Gaza. Some did not and were caught up in the fighting. Only a small portion of Gaza’s civilian population were killed.

      Wars are cruel. Decisions are made in real time, without pausing the video game to think about what to do. Bad and mistaken decisions can occur and have occurred. Civilian causalities are guaranteed on an urban battlefield. Collateral damage to civilians and civilian infrastructure do not mean that they are prohibited actions in war. The fact is that collateral damage may happen to civilians in pursuit of legal military objectives.

      The military objective was to destroy Hamas’ war infrastructure, kill and injure its fighters and prevent attacks on Israel. This Israel did.

      Reply to Comment
    5. Joel

      It bears mention that more than sixty IDF soldiers died during the 50 day Operation.
      Nor should we forget, that Hamas declined a ceasefire in the early phases of the Operation, and only later, and after many deaths, agreed to the very same terms.

      Hamas started this war, refused a humanitarian ceasefire, and is casting about for a 10 year hudna.
      http://www.nbcnews.com/id/24235665/ns/world_news-mideast_n_africa/t/hamas-offers-truce-return-borders/

      Well isn’t that special.

      And to think that millions and millions of people revere these guys as heros.

      Reply to Comment
      • Yeah, Right

        Joel: “It bears mention that more than sixty IDF soldiers died during the 50 day Operation.”

        Why does that “bear mention”, exactly?

        Do you have any evidence that the deaths of any of those soldiers was the result of any violations of internationally-accepted principles of proportionality or distinction?

        Is Hamas not allowed to shoot at IDF soldiers?

        Were any of those soldiers hors de combat at the time of their deaths?

        Did Hamas use prohibited weapons or perfidious means to kill those soldiers?

        They were soldiers, and they died in combat.

        It happens, and it’s actually ALLOWED to happen in an armed conflict.

        Reply to Comment
        • BigCat

          HAMAS is a terrorist organization. HAMAs is recognized as a terrorist organization by the European Union, the United States of America, Canada, Australia, Egypt, etc.

          A terrorist organization is a criminal organization and is not allowed to shoot at the IDF or anyone else. Even the UN condemns HAMAS’ genocidal intentions, moron.

          Reply to Comment
          • BigCat

            Btw “yeah right”, if the terrorist organization HAMAS was not shooting at Israel, neither would Israeli soldiers have entered Gaza nor would Israel have shot at Gaza.

            If the terrorist organization HAMAS demilitarizes, there will be no naval blockade of Gaza.

            Reply to Comment
          • Yeah, Right

            OK, we can now add the phrase “jus in bello” to the long, long list of legal concepts that BigCat cannot comprehend.

            Reply to Comment
          • BigCat

            1. At least you do not dispute that HAMAS is a terrorist organization;

            2. You do not dispute that a terrorist organization is a criminal organization;
            Summary

            The ramifications of what you do not dispute, proves you wrong – i.e. HAMAS is a terrorist/criminal organization. Terrorist/Criminal organizations have no legitimacy under International law. Contrary to what you stupidly claimed, HAMAS is not – and I quote you here – “ALLOWED” to shoot at Israel and/or kill Israeli soldiers under International law, moron.

            Reply to Comment
          • Yeah, Right

            BigCat: “At least you do not dispute that HAMAS is a terrorist organization”

            Hamas is, in your words, a terrorist organization.

            Hamas has, indeed, an armed militia.

            I assume you are insisting that this is a “terrorist militia”. Correct?

            Hamas also has dog catchers, traffic wardens and street sweepers.

            Those would be
            “terrorist dog catchers”, and
            “terrorist traffic wardens”, and
            “terrorist street sweepers”.

            Correct?

            BC: “Terrorist/Criminal organizations have no legitimacy under International law”

            Hmmm, I do believe that’s where you have a bit of an evidentiary problem.

            After all, you haven’t quoted a competent international tribunal that declares Hamas to be “a terrorist organization under international law”.

            You’ve argued that the European Union “declares” Hamas to be a terrorist organization, but I don’t think you will find that the EU has the authority to invoke “international law” when making that declaration.

            You’ve also pointed out that the United States of America, Canada, Australia, and Egypt declare Hamas to be “a terrorist organization” but, again, none of those state can unilaterally declare how international law defines “a terrorist organization” nor to unilaterally declare what having that label hung around your neck means w.r.t. International Humanitarian Law.

            After all, there are plenty of countries on earth who consider “Israel” to be illegitimate, because they do not recognize the state of Israel.

            Here’s something you don’t appear to know: nearly a decade ago Israel declared that the Gaza Strip (note: not “Hamas” but “Gaza”) to be An Enemy Entity.

            Which means that when (I almost said “if”, my bad) Israel decides to beat up on “Gaza, the Enemy” then that Enemy Called Gaza is fully entitled to fight back.

            International law says so.

            And, again, so sorry, once the shootin’ ‘n’ the fightin’ starts then it’s entirely up to “Gaza, the enemy entity” to decide who is going to do that fighting for it.

            They have: the Military Wing of Hamas. And so long as those militiamen fight according to The Rules Of War then that’s perfectly legitimate, and hanging the label “terrorists!!!” on those militiamen does not “delegitimize” them.

            To argue otherwise is to argue a nonsense i.e. that one side of an armed conflict has a power of veto over who should fight for the other side.

            Honestly, you do write the most outrageous nonsense.

            Reply to Comment
    6. Ben

      Ofer Shelah: “In the first three weeks of the conquest of Iraq, in 2003, the U.S. armed forces captured cities and destroyed 1,600 armored vehicles of the Iraqi army, half of them tanks. In Gaza, the IDF fought against an enemy that had no armored vehicles, and Israeli soldiers probably saw no more than a few hundred armed Hamas militants. On average, an Israeli tank fired seven times as many shells a day as an American tank in Iraq. We fired more antitank missiles from the ground than the Americans, and twice as many Hellfire rockets from helicopters…”

      http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/.premium-1.653167

      Reply to Comment
      • Joel

        Over five hundred fifty dead civilians in Yemen, as a consequence of the Saudi coalition air strikes. What efforts have the Saudis made to minimize civilian casualties?

        a) None
        b)Less than the Israel’s efforts to minimize casualties.
        c) a&b

        Reply to Comment
    7. Bruce Gould

      Breaking the Silence sends people on speaking tours – you can try to arrange one for your city, it’s eye-opening to hear them speak in person. The videos on their website are worthwhile as well.

      Reply to Comment
      • Shaun

        Whats the point of overseas speaking tours? If goal of Breaking the Silence is according to its own website ” to expose the Israeli public to the reality of everyday life in the Occupied Territories” If any of these soldiers who testified actually committed crimes with intent or out of negligence they should voluntarily present themselves to international courts for prosecution.
        This will have major consequences in Israel and have far more impact on Israeli public opinion than soldiers going on speaking tours around the world.

        Reply to Comment
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