TEL AVIV — Eyewitness accounts published Monday from last summer’s war in Gaza paint a disturbing portrait of overzealous, often indiscriminate fire on the part of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF).
But even more disturbing to Israel and its supporters worldwide is that the searing accounts — 111 in all — came not from Palestinian survivors, but from Israeli veterans of Operation Protective Edge.
In “This is How We Fought in Gaza,” the Tel Aviv-based Breaking the Silence organization published transcripts and essays from some 70 IDF combatants of a 50-day war that killed 73 Israelis — 67 of them soldiers — and more than 1,200 Gazans.
“We’ve been recording testimonies from our IDF comrades for more than a decade, ever since the second intifada, and I’ve never heard of such systemic, permissive rules of engagement,” said Yehuda Shaul, a co-founder of the organization.
The report notes that while military orders allow for fire only after identifying a weapon, intent or the enemy’s realistic capability, many soldiers testified that they were told to shoot at any threat, whether real or imagined.
“The use of weapons and means of warfare that required approval in the past by senior officers — like firing a tank shell — were permitted at the discretion of junior commanders.”
Moreover, “Soldiers were briefed by their commanders to fire at every person they identified in a combat zone, since the working assumption was that every person in the field was an enemy.”
Read More:Report Cites Shift in Israeli War Doctrine.