Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Israeli war crimes: "No clear lines"

Israeli soldiers: "No clear red lines" in Gaza war
Steve Weizman (AP, 7/15/09)
JERUSALEM – Israeli soldiers who fought in last winter's Gaza War say the military used Palestinians as human shields, improperly fired in-cendiary white phosphorous shells over civilian areas, and used overwhelming fire-power that caused needless deaths and destruction, according to a report released Wednesday.

The testimonies were by far the strongest allegations to come from war veterans that the army used excessive force during the three-week offensive and echoed claims already leveled by Palestinian and human rights groups. The military rebutted the report, saying the accounts were anonymous and impossible to verify.

The accounts of 26 war veterans were collected by Breaking the Silence, an organization of Israeli army reservists critical of their country's treatment of Palestinians. They described demolishing buildings, vandalizing homes, and using more than essential firepower, given the relatively light resistance they encountered. One said the army needlessly used white phosphorous, a masking agent that can cause severe burns, for smokescreens. Others said regulations for opening fire were vague, and that soldiers were expected to do whatever was necessary to protect themselves.

"There were no clear red lines," one soldier told the group. "If you're not sure, kill. Fire power was insane," said another. More>>