Palestinians Halt Push on War Report to UN but Truth Can’t be buried – Israel’s War Crimes



Gaza

UNITED NATIONS — In a startling shift, the Palestinian delegation to the United Nations Human Rights Council dropped its efforts to forward a report accusing Israel of possible war crimes to the Security Council, under pressure from the United States, diplomats said Thursday.

Israel says that it acted only to halt missile fire from Gaza that terrorized Israeli civilians.

The position of the United States since the Goldstone report was released in early September has been that the Human Rights Council alone should deal with it. But in a compromise, the body is expected to pass a resolution Friday presented by the bloc of Arab and Muslim states that any action will be delayed until the next meeting in March.

The Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, warned the Palestinians and international powers earlier Thursday that any action to advance the report would be a denial of Israel’s “right to self-defense” and would kill any chance of peace talks.

Mr. Netanyahu, speaking during a cabinet meeting in Jerusalem, said that any international endorsement of the report would “strike a severe blow to the war against terrorism.”

But most immediately, he said, it would “strike a fatal blow to the peace process, because Israel will no longer be able to take additional steps and take risks for peace if its right to self-defense is denied.” In essence Netanyahu black-mailed the UN with threat of future attacks and more sever war crimes as if to say the Israel is immune to prosecution.

Rights group: Most of 1355 Gazans killed in war were children and women c The vast majority of the Palestinians killed in Israel’s operation in the Gaza Strip last winter were innocent civilians rather than combatants, according to a new report to be published by the B’Tselem organization Wednesday morning. This is the opposite of what the Israel Defense Forces has said.

www.soldiersspeakout.com.

Israeli Soldiers Testify: We Used Gazans as Human Shields!

Once again, the Israeli army admits of committing war crimes in Gaza.
A Golani brigade soldier confessed that the Israeli occupation forces used Palestinians as human shields during Gaza war last January despite a 2005 High Court ruling outlawing the practice. The soldier said his unit employed a variation of the practice, the so-called “neighbor procedure,” when it checked homes for Palestinian resistance fighters.

The soldier’s testimony appears in a collection of accounts being published this week by Breaking the Silence, an organization that collects Israeli soldiers’ testimony on human rights abuses by the military.

In a print and video testimony published on Wednesday by the activist group, the 30 soldiers say they were commanded to shoot first and then worry about civilian causalities adding that the Israeli army’s imperative was to minimize its own casualties to ensure Israeli public support for the Gaza operation. A Palestinian rights group has stated that 1,417 Palestinians were killed, 926 of them civilians, during the Israeli war on Gaza. But Israel has put the death toll at 1,166 and estimated 295 dead were civilians. Ten occupation soldiers and three settlers were also killed.

The soldier, a staff sergeant, said that in his unit and others, Palestinians were often sent into houses to determine if there was anyone inside. “The practice was not to call it ‘the neighbor procedure.’ Instead it was called ‘Johnny,’” the soldier said, using Israeli military slang for Palestinian civilians. The Israeli occupation employed this practice extensively during the second intifada, before it was outlawed by the High Court of Justice in 2005.

In an incident his commanders told him about, three “armed militants” were in a house. Attack helicopters were brought in. “They … again sent the [Palestinian] neighbor in. At first he said that nothing had happened [to the armed men],” the soldier said. “Again they brought in attack helicopters and fired. They again sent in the neighbor. He said there were two dead and one still alive. They then brought in a bulldozer and began to knock the house down on him until [the neighbor] entered.” The soldier said he had been told that the only militant remaining alive was captured and turned over to the Shin Bet security service.

The Golani soldier also testified that his commanders reported incidents in which Palestinians were given sledgehammers to break through walls to let the army enter through the side of houses. The army feared that the doors were booby-trapped.

The soldier said he had heard of other instances in which Palestinian civilians were used as human shields. One time, for example, a Palestinian was put at the front of an Israeli military force with a gun pointed at him from behind.

The Israeli military Spokesman’s Office, for its part, said that “the IDF regrets the fact that a human rights organization would again present to the country and the world a report containing anonymous, generalized testimony without checking the details or their reliability, and without giving the IDF, as a matter of minimal fairness, the opportunity to check the matters and respond to them before publication.”

For his part, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak responded to the report saying that “if anyone has any criticism, information of reservations over the IDF’s operations, they must direct them to me as the State of Israel’s defense minister and to the Israeli government, which was the one to order to IDF to restore calm in the southern communities.” Minister Barak added, “Criticism directed at the IDF by one organization or another is inappropriate and is directed at the wrong place. The IDF is one of the most ethical armies in the world and acts in accordance with the highest moral code.”
Barak asserted after the war that Israel had the “most moral army” in the world.

SHOOT FIRST, WORRY LATER!
Moreover, a number of Israeli occupation soldiers who took part in Israel’s recent Gaza aggression were quoted by Breaking the Silence group as saying that they were urged by commanders to shoot first and worry later about sorting out civilians from combatants. Accordingly, they say, the force went into Gaza with guns blazing.

The 112-page report by Breaking the Silence includes testimonies of 30 soldiers “who served in all sectors of the operation”.

“Better hit an innocent than hesitate to target an enemy,” is a typical description by one unidentified soldier of his understanding of instructions repeated at pre-invasion briefings and during the 22-day war, from Dec. 27 to Jan. 18.

“If you’re not sure, kill. Fire power was insane. We went in and the booms were just mad,” says another. “The minute we got to our starting line, we simply began to fire at suspect places. In urban warfare, anyone is your enemy. No innocents.”

“We did not get instructions to shoot at anything that moved,” said one soldier. “But we were generally instructed: if you feel threatened, shoot. They kept repeating to us that this is war and in war opening fire is not restricted.”

UMBRELLA OF FIRE
The report repeats charges denied by Israel that white phosphorus was fired indiscriminately into Gaza streets. It cites “massive destruction was unrelated to any direct threat to Israeli forces” and “permissive” rules of engagement.

One soldier said that his unit had received an order to “ignite” an area. “The way to do that was to actually fire phosphorus shells from above,” he said. “What the phosphorus does is to let out an umbrella of fire over the target and naturally that ignites the whole house.” The results of a white phosphorus bombardment were “upsetting” another soldier said, “because in training you learn that white phosphorus is not used, and you’re taught that it’s not humane”.

The report also mentions armored bulldozers razing whole areas including gardens, and olive and orange groves. “We didn’t see a single house that was intact … that was not hit. The entire infrastructure, tracks, fields, roads, was in total ruin. The D-9 (bulldozer) had gone over everything,” the report quotes a soldier as saying.

Outcry Against Gaza “War Crimes” Grows: CBS News

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Conflict in Gaza

Palestinians mourn over the bodies of 42 people who were killed yesterday in an Israeli attack on a U.N.-run school building, on Janaury 7, 2009 in Jabalia refugee camp, northern Gaza. The United Nations has denied Israeli army allegations that militants were inside the school compound.

Gaza


Conflict in Gaza

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