Israel shrugs off talk of army violations in Gaza even though a UN report confirms a new form of crime against humanity has been committed.
The Israeli army ethics chief, Eli Shermeister, has alleged that there is no evidence that troops fought anything but a fair war during the three-week operations on the besieged Gaza Strip.
“I didn’t see in the Gaza operation anything that can teach us or show us that something in the moral attitude of the IDF (military) was … changed or spoiled,” Shermeister said in an interview with AP.
The recent remarks come at a time when the Israeli military is under international scrutiny for its conduct during the war on Gaza. Tel Aviv unleashed Operation Cast Lead on the Gaza Strip on December 27.
Three weeks of Israeli airstrikes and a ground incursion resulted in the death of over 1,350 Palestinians and the injury of nearly 5,450 people. Most of the victims were civilians.
The carnage also inflicted more than $1.6 billion in damages on the Gazan economy.
Israeli soldiers have confessed that they knowingly relaxed the rules of engagement and hastily killed Palestinian civilians and destroyed civilian property, as they were confident that they had the full protection of echelons in Tel Aviv.
The head of a special military course, Danny Zamir, told the Ha’aretz daily that he was “shocked” by the confessions of the soldiers and relayed a report on the matter to higher authorities because he feared serious ethical lapses among troops.
“Those were very harsh testimonies about unjustified shooting of civilians and destruction of property that conveyed an atmosphere in which one feels entitled to use unrestricted force against Palestinians,” Zamir told public radio.
Israeli war crimes include, but are not limited to, the use of deadly white phosphorus shells in densely populated civilian areas in Gaza — as revealed in an investigation by The Times in January.
Tel Aviv initially denied using the controversial weapon, but mounting evidence later forced Israeli officials to admit to having employed the shells.
While presenting his latest report to the UN Human Rights Council, Richard Falk – the UN special rapporteur on human rights in the Palestinian territories – declared that Israel committed war crimes in Gaza and called for an independent inquiry into the issue.
Falk explained that Tel Aviv enforced a crippling blockade on Gaza while bringing three weeks of devastation to the territory and thus prevented civilians from fleeing “from the orbit of harm”.
He said such conduct constitutes a new form of crime against humanity.
“There is an international consensus that the maintenance of the blockade, which was so harmful to the Gazan people before the combat period starting on December 27th, the persistence of that blockade is an unconditional violation of international humanitarian law and should cease immediately,” explained human rights investigator.
Israeli continues to enforce its 21-month blockade of the Palestinian territory.