No Comment — March 20, 2009, 9:43 am

The Fallout from Gaza

As Israeli politics make a leap to the right, Ethan Bronner charts the growing public debate in Israel over techniques used in the assault on Gaza in a compelling article:

testimony is emerging from within the ranks of soldiers and officers alleging a permissive attitude toward the killing of civilians and reckless destruction of property that is sure to inflame the domestic and international debate about the army’s conduct in Gaza. On Thursday, the military’s chief advocate general ordered an investigation into a soldier’s account of a sniper killing a woman and her two children who walked too close to a designated no-go area by mistake, and another account of a sharpshooter who killed an elderly woman who came within 100 yards of a commandeered house.

When asked why that elderly woman was killed, a squad commander was quoted as saying: “What’s great about Gaza — you see a person on a path, he doesn’t have to be armed, you can simply shoot him. In our case it was an old woman on whom I did not see any weapon when I looked. The order was to take down the person, this woman, the minute you see her. There are always warnings, there is always the saying, ‘Maybe he’s a terrorist.’ What I felt was, there was a lot of thirst for blood.”

Haaretz is among a number of Israeli publications which are airing the accounts provided by IDF soldiers returned from the Gaza operation. Here is one of the collections of accounts and more are expected over the coming week. Taken collectively, these accounts suggest that IDF relaxed its rules of engagement to allow the free targeting of civilians—in clear-cut violation of the laws of war and IDF’s own prior guidelines.

Don’t expect reform, however. Ultranationalist Russian émigré Avigdor Lieberman has been tapped to be Israel’s new foreign minister. Lieberman’s penchant for diplomacy is demonstrated by his recent call for the President of Egypt to “go to hell,” and his suggestion that the conflict in Gaza would best be resolved by dropping a nuclear bomb on its inhabitants.

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