Fresh allegations have come to light as more troops speak out, that gung-ho leadership inculcated a culture of disregard for Palestinian casualties.
By Peter Beaumont
An investigation by a group of former Israeli soldiers has uncovered new evidence of the military’s conduct during the assault on Gaza two months ago. According to the group Breaking the Silence, the witness statements of the 15 soldiers who have come forward to describe their concerns over Operation Cast Lead appear to corroborate claims of random killings and vandalism carried out during the operation made by a separate group of anonymous servicemen during a seminar at a military college.
Although Breaking the Silence’s report is not due to be published for several months, the testimony it has received already suggests widespread abuses stemming from orders originating with the Israeli military chain of command.
“This is not a military that we recognise,” said Mikhael Manekin, one of the former soldiers involved with the group. “This is in a different category to things we have seen before. We have spoken to a lot of different people who served in different places in Gaza, including officers. We are not talking about some units being more aggressive than others, but underlying policy. So much so that we are talking to soldiers who said that they were having to restrain the orders given.”
Manekin described how soldiers had reported their units being specifically warned by officers not to discuss what they had seen and done in Gaza.
Source: The Observer Read more
By Duncan Macintyre in Jerusalem
Many Israeli troops had the sense of fighting a “religious war” against Gentiles during the 22-day offensive in Gaza, according to a soldier who has highlighted the martial role of military rabbis during the operation.
The soldier testified that the “clear” message of literature distributed to troops by the rabbinate was: “We are the Jewish people, we came to this land by a miracle, God brought us back to this land and now we need to fight to expel the Gentiles who are interfering with our conquest of this holy land.”
The claim comes in the detailed transcript of a post-war discussion by soldiers, publication of which has triggered a military police inquiry into allegations about the use of lethal firepower against unarmed civilians.
The investigation was ordered by the military’s advocate general Avichai Mandleblit on Thursday after the liberal daily newspaper Haaretz published extracts from the transcript describing incidents in which Palestinian civilians were killed and property wantonly damaged.
It’s hard to imagine now, but in 1944, six years after Kristallnacht, Lessing J. Rosenwald, president of the American Council for Judaism, felt comfortable equating the Zionist ideal of Jewish statehood with “the concept of a racial state — the Hitlerian concept.” For most of the last century, a principled opposition to Zionism was a mainstream stance within American Judaism.
Even after the foundation of Israel, anti-Zionism was not a particularly heretical position. Assimilated Reform Jews like Rosenwald believed that Judaism should remain a matter of religious rather than political allegiance; the ultra-Orthodox saw Jewish statehood as an impious attempt to “push the hand of God”; and Marxist Jews — my grandparents among them — tended to see Zionism, and all nationalisms, as a distraction from the more essential struggle between classes.
The full article in The Los Angeles Times
Friday, 13 March 2009, Ni?lin Village: An American citizen has been critically injured in the village of Ni?lin after Israeli forces shot him in the head with a tear-gas canister.
Tristan Anderson from California USA, 37 years old, has been taken to Israeli hospital Tel Hashomer, near Tel Aviv. Anderson was unconscious and bleeding heavily from the nose and mouth. He sustained a large hole in the right part of his forehead where he was struck by a tear gas canister. The heavy impact from the tear gas canister being shot directly at him, from about 60 meters, also caused severe damage to his right eye, which he may lose. Tristan underwent brain surgery in which part of his right frontal lobe and shattered bone fragments were removed. As of 16 March, Tristan is in stable condition, has been taken to the neurological department and is in intensive care. Read the full article (with video)..
Justice for Palestine
Sadly Dr Jeff Halper has concluded his Melbourne engagements and has today flown to South Australia for his Adelaide public lectures. Arriving in Australia on Monday for a busy two-week national tour, he appeared on Radio National Breakfast and ABC Radio PM, with much more media to come, and will be speaking at universities and public meetings across the country.
Dr Jeff Halper is an American born, Israeli-based professor of anthropology, author and co-founder of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD). This 2006 Nobel Peace Prize nominated group resists the Israeli policy of demolishing Palestinian homes in the illegally occupied West Bank. It uses non-violence and civil obedience.
In 2008 Halper sailed as the only Jew on a protest boat from Cyprus to Gaza to highlight Israel?s collective punishment of the Strip. He told an audience in Canada in January that, ?The humanitarian crisis in Gaza is not because there was a hurricane. There are [Western] countries that are creating starvation in Gaza?. Read full article…
Justice for Palestine
Gazans cheered and waved Palestinian flags as the convoy finally entered the territory through the Rafah border crossing on Monday, after being stranded on the Egyptian side of the border for two days.
“The group was stopped at the border for various reasons, there were various negotiations going on over what would be let through the border; how many people, how much humanitarian aid,” Al Jazeera’s Todd Baer, reporting from the Rafah crossing, said.
The Viva Palestina convoy, led by George Galloway, a British member of parliament, has caused controversy in Egypt.
It was pelted with stones and vandalised in the Egyptian town of El-Arish, 45km south of the Rafah border crossing, before being cleared to enter Gaza.
Galloway has previously called Hosni Mubarak, Egypt’s president, an “international criminal” for not permanently opening the Rafah crossing into Gaza.
‘Overwhelmed with happiness’
As he entered Gaza, Galloway said he was “overwhelmed with happiness”.
“I have entered Palestine many times but the most emotional of these is after the 22-day genocidal aggression against the Palestinian people,” he said.
Galloway said that he planned to meet “the heroes of Palestine’s resistance, the government of Palestine, the people of Palestine”.
The convoy comprising 110 vehicles has brought aid supplies valued at $1.4m.
Israel’s Gaza offensive, which it said was aimed at stopping rocket and mortar attacks by Palestinian fighters, devastated the Gaza Strip. More than 1,300 Palestinians were killed and thousands of homes were destroyed in the assault which ended in January.
Israel and Egypt have sealed Gaza off from all but limited humanitarian aid since Hamas seized full control of the territory in June 2007 after pushing out forces loyal to Mahmoud Abbas, the West Bank-based Palestinian president.
Justice for Palestine