Israeli Soldiers Affirm Palestinians' Accusations

An Update


Following the initial reports archived on this page, the following aired on NPR's hourly Newscast on March 30:

The Israeli military today said its own investigation into allegations of misconduct in the recent Gaza War were "purposely exaggerated" by graduates of a military school.

From Jerusalem, NPR's Eric Westervelt reports:

An Israeli military school leaked accounts to Israeli newspapers which included claims that snipers shot and killed unarmed Palestinian women and children.

Today the Israeli military's top lawyer said its 10-day investigation showed that "crucial components of the soldiers' description of events were based on hearsay."

The Judge Advocate General said he concluded there was NOT evidence to support the most serious charges, including alleged instances where Israeli soldiers shot civilians without cause and wantonly destroyed civilian property.

The head of the military academy who leaked the soldier testimonies declined to comment.

Several groups including Physicians for Human Rights-Israel issued statements calling for an independent investigation and called the Israeli Army's "speedy closing" of the case "the army's attempt to wipe its hands of all blame for illegal activity."

Testimony from Israeli soldiers, as well as human rights groups and U.N. investigators, is bolstering claims made by Palestinian witnesses that the Israeli army needlessly killed and wounded civilians during the recent war in the Gaza Strip.

Some soldiers say they were given incredibly permissive rules of engagement and were urged to see the Gaza attack as a kind of holy war.

And, in a new report, Human Rights Watch alleges that the Israeli army unlawfully used white phosphorous artillery shells over densely populated civilian areas.

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