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Palestine: Testimonies Regarding Israeli War Crimes in Gaza

Categories: Middle East & North Africa, Israel, Palestine, Disaster, Human Rights, International Relations, Law, Religion, War & Conflict

Bloggers in Gaza have not been surprised by the testimonies of Israeli soldiers documenting war crimes they committed or witnessed [1] during the recent attacks on Gaza [2] – or by any of the other stories now being reported regarding the Israeli military's conduct.

Canadian activist Eva Bartlett blogs at In Gaza [3]:

What we knew of Israel’s war crimes during Israel’s war on Gaza, what the medics, the victims, the doctors, the witnesses have testified is now gaining growing recognition. The calls for international inquiry are growing, as are the reasons [4]. […] The Guardian has just published an excellent series [5] of articles and videos on Israel’s crimes of war in and on Gaza. Included in the reports are focuses on attacks on medical workers [6], Israel’s use of drones to target and kill [7] with pinpoint accuracy civilians, and Israel’s use of civilians (including minors) as human shields [8] during their military operations. […] People in Gaza were very acutely aware of the lethal drones, without having to be told thus by formal groups or experts. At new year’s the sordid text message [9] about zanana (drone) missiles spread in a dark attempt at humour. We knew they were deadly [10].

Eva then provides links to other media sources, including Al Jazeera [11], Ha'aretz [12], The Independent [13], and The Times [14].

Australian activist Sharyn Lock writes at Tales to Tell [15]:

Do you remember that before the ground incursion began, E and I were spending nights with our Jabalia [16] friends as they hid in the basement while the bombs fell? And then we would go out in the morning (somewhat less bombs) to document the attacks. And you might remember a picture we took of a yellow truck in which a family had been blown up [17].
Well, what I didn’t know was that Israel was actually using footage of the last minutes of these people’s lives, taken from the air, as a youtube propaganda video about how they were just targeting Hamas rocket firers. However the locals told a B’Tselem [18] field worker the same story they told us (the Guardian newspaper picked up on it [19] also) and a very different version of events was posted to youtube here [20].

Louisa Waugh, who works in Gaza, writes at New Internationalist's Gaza Blog [21]:

An American friend who has lived in Jerusalem for almost two years tells me she thinks Israel is unnerved by recent testimonies from soldiers who were recently in Gaza.
The Israeli soldiers were graduates of the Oranim College military academy, which has just published the testimonies. They describe attacks on civilians, including what one soldier described as ‘The cold-blooded murder’ of an elderly Palestinian woman, and incidents of soldiers being ordered to trash civilian houses and throw the contents, furniture and all, out of the windows. The academy director, Dany Zamir, told an Israeli radio station that, ‘[The testimonies] conveyed an atmosphere in which one feels entitled to use unrestricted force against Palestinians.’
Alongside these disturbing but unsurprising revelations which the Israeli military says it will investigate, is the ugly scandal of T-shirts with vicious slogans being worn by some young Israeli soldiers. According to reports in the Israeli media, and BBC news [22], one of the T-shirts has the slogan ‘Bet you got Raped!’ over a picture of a bruised woman in a head-scarf. Another shows the picture of a clearly pregnant head-scarved woman with the words, ‘One shot two kills.’ […] I think my friend in Jerusalem is overly optimistic: it's hard to get any perspective on Israel from here in Gaza, especially so soon after the devastating offensive. But mainstream Israeli public opinion seems to be that although the Israeli military offensive in Gaza was clearly brutal and disproportionate, Palestinians got what they deserved.

Mango Girl, who is based in Egypt, refers to a report that a rabbi accompanied Israeli soldiers [23]:

Dirty laundry from the recent military campaign against Gaza is being aired in Haaretz [newspaper], and one of the allegations is that a radical rabbi was brought in [23] to exhort Israeli soldiers to do their religious duty in clearing the land of non-Jews so that Jews could realize their religious rights to it. Golly gee, do you think that maybe Israel is motivated by religion or religious identity? You mean they’re not super secular and liberal and democratic and are, just maybe, more similar to the unwashed wild-eyed jihadi Arabs they are fighting than different?

We end with a thought from Lebanese activist Natalie Abou Shakra, who blogs at Moments of Gaza; she asks about the images of warplanes she has posted [24]:

Don't they look like insects, the ones that bite deep into your skin? […] And, to humanity's dismay, when one searches on the internet, the search results display artistic photos of the war planes, as if they can be added to a collection… perhaps they would like to also take artistic photos of the aftermath of using these man-slaughtering machines looking at the Israeli Apache… does it not look like an abnormally large insect (an abnormally large fly)… do you understand what i mean now that we lived a horror movie…? there were huge insects and parasites feeding on human flesh