More stories are emerging daily from Israeli soldiers about indiscriminate skilling of civilians, defacement of property, and other war crimes in the recent Gaza operation. The most recent article appeared in today's Haaretz. As Richard Silverstein has pointed out, the English version is less complete than the Hebrew version. But it makes for chilling, if predictable, reading.
The problem with these stories is that, inevitably, they remain at the level of the perpetrator, the soldier. So soldiers acted against the IDF Code of Ethics? That is regrettable, it will be said, but it just means that the IDF will have to give them one more ethics seminar. It is still the most moral army in the world, according to Defense Minister Barak (Who is number 2?) So why the fuss?
The Military Advocate Office has requested that the testimonies reported by Harel be turned over to them, so they can investigate, draw conclusions, and prosecute, if necessary. This, of course, is he standard answer. Haaretz has called for an external investigation.
But who will investigate and prosecute the Military Advocate Office?
You see, the main issue is not the illegal actions of the soldiers, but rather the illegal orders of the commanders, the military culture of "searing into the Gazans consciousness" and "the boss has gone nuts."
In interviews given today to various media outlets, the IDF veterans' group Breaking the Silence makes the following points:
- The story in Haaretz today is consonant with many testimonies the group has collected over the last two months.
- The scale of IDF war crimes in Gaza's Cast Lead operation is unprecedented, surpassing those of Defensive Shield and the previous Gaza campaigns.
- More blame should be placed on the IDF brass. The IDF should not be throwing the soldiers to the (toothless) dogs, but should be investigating the chain of command.
One of the talkbacks in the English edition of Haaretz said, "Big deal, just one story." Haaretz will be publishing more in the days to come.
But get ready for the book of testimonies to be published by Breaking the Silence in a few months.