Avisen Haaretz offentliggjorde torsdag historiene til soldater som presenterer et helt annet bilde av operasjonen i Gaza enn det som hittil er kjent. En blanding av stort handlingsrom for soldatene og liten vekt på palestinske liv, sammen med toleranse for individuelle overtramp, produserte i sum en oppførsel som ikke passer med bildet IDF har av seg selv.

Det var leder for det forberedende Yitazhak Rabin-militærkurset ved Oranim Academic College in Tivon, Danny Zamir, som slo alarm. Han snakket med soldatene som hadde deltatt i Operation Cast Lead og ble rystet over eksemplene på slapp moral, både fra offiserer og enkelte soldater. Han tok kontakt med hærledelsen og de holdt et møte.

Zamir bestemte seg for å offentliggjøre historiene, av hensyn til offentligheten og hæren. Hæren skal få en sjanse til å forbedre seg, og opinionen har rett på å få vite hva som ble gjort i deres navn.

Det er kjent at israelerne først og fremst tenkte på soldatenes sikkerhet når de rykket frem. Men dette er første gang man hører at det resulterte i manglende respekt for sivile liv:

The testimonies include a description by an infantry squad leader of an incident where an IDF sharpshooter mistakenly shot a Palestinian mother and her two children. «There was a house with a family inside …. We put them in a room. Later we left the house and another platoon entered it, and a few days after that there was an order to release the family. They had set up positions upstairs. There was a sniper position on the roof,» the soldier said.

«The platoon commander let the family go and told them to go to the right. One mother and her two children didn’t understand and went to the left, but they forgot to tell the sharpshooter on the roof they had let them go and it was okay, and he should hold his fire and he … he did what he was supposed to, like he was following his orders.»

According to the squad leader: «The sharpshooter saw a woman and children approaching him, closer than the lines he was told no one should pass. He shot them straight away. In any case, what happened is that in the end he killed them.

«I don’t think he felt too bad about it, because after all, as far as he was concerned, he did his job according to the orders he was given. And the atmosphere in general, from what I understood from most of my men who I talked to … I don’t know how to describe it …. The lives of Palestinians, let’s say, is something very, very less important than the lives of our soldiers. So as far as they are concerned they can justify it that way,» he said.

Det er glidende overgang fra denne historien til en annen der en soldat skyter en palestinsk kvinne,

Another squad leader from the same brigade told of an incident where the company commander ordered that an elderly Palestinian woman be shot and killed; she was walking on a road about 100 meters from a house the company had commandeered.

The squad leader said he argued with his commander over the permissive rules of engagement that allowed the clearing out of houses by shooting without warning the residents beforehand. After the orders were changed, the squad leader’s soldiers complained that «we should kill everyone there [in the center of Gaza]. Everyone there is a terrorist.»

Når reglene blir for slappe, resulterer det i drap på pur f…. Slappe regler smitter over på soldatenes moral, de tar seg friheter, slik som å knuse eiendom, trakassere sivile og innta holdninger som gjør alle til fiender.

Det tærer på moralen til soldatene, for de verste vil etter hvert begynne å sette standard.

Israels hær bygger på reservestyrker. Det betyr at det skjer en utveksling mellom det sivile samfunn og soldatene. Det er mye tettere forbindelser mellom hæren og samfunnet enn i andre land. IDF er Israel. Derfor er slike historier noe som går på selvbildet løs.

The squad leader said: «You do not get the impression from the officers that there is any logic to it, but they won’t say anything. To write ‘death to the Arabs’ on the walls, to take family pictures and spit on them, just because you can. I think this is the main thing: To understand how much the IDF has fallen in the realm of ethics, really. It’s what I’ll remember the most.»

The head of the pe-military course, Danny Zamir, told Haaretz yesterday that he did not know in advance what the soldiers would say at the gathering, and what they said «shocked us.» He said that after hearing the soldiers, he told IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi about his fears of a serious moral failure in the IDF.

The chief of staff’s bureau requested a copy of the transcript of the discussion, and Zamir provided it. This week Zamir met with the IDF’s chief education officer, Brig. Gen. Eli Shermeister, to discuss the matter. Zamir said he believed the army would take the matter seriously. «They do not intend to avoid responsibility,» he said.

Zamir er kjent for å være dissident. I sin tid nektet han å vokte en seremoni som høyreorienterte settlere skulle holde i Nablus.

Men han ønsker IDF alt vel, og tror at hæren kommer til å ta rapportene alvorlig.

Hvorfor er ikke historiene blitt kjent før? Det hersker en «dere spør ikke, og vi sier ikke-noe»-kultur. Noen må ta hull på byllen. Når det først skjer er det ingen som forsøker å legge lokk på. For mye står på spill. Haaretz fortsetter å publisere, og det er allerede nedsatt to militærkommisjoner som skal granske hendelsene.

IDF killed civilians in Gaza under loose rules of engagement

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