About 30 Israelis who served in Israel's offensive on militants in
Gaza six months ago say the army pushed them to use reckless force
against Palestinian civilians.
"They were continuously told that they shouldn't worry about
civilians. Even when they asked, they were told by their generals
and commanders that this time they don't have to worry about
the non-governmental organization in Jerusalem called "Breaking the
Silence", made up of former soldiers who advocate moral behavior in
the Israeli military.
interviewed a number of soldiers who took part in Operation Cast
Lead, Israel's 22 day offensive on militants in Gaza earlier this
year. All those interviewed are unidentified.
In a publication released on Wednesday in Jerusalem, the group
quotes one soldier as saying his unit used Palestinian residents of
Gaza as human shields. He says Israeli soldiers would put rifle
barrels on a person's shoulder while advancing into a house with the
person in front of the soldier, acting as a shield.
Avihai Stollar further says, the testimonies indicate to him that
the brutality that some soldiers describe was the result of the
spiritual preparation that soldiers received from rabbis.
"They told the soldiers that it's a holy war. That it's like the
days of the Bible. The Palestinians are the nemesis of the Jewish
people, and that we have four main enemies, the Israeli Arabs, Iran,
the Palestinian Authority and Hamas," said Stollar.
On the other hand, the Israel Defense Forces accusing the group of
defaming and slandering the army and its commanders said, the group
did not give the military a chance to investigate the allegations
before taking its findings to the media.
Israeli army officials have said some rabbis went too far in the
briefing and materials they provided to soldiers. They say those
rabbis have been reprimanded.
The aim of Israel's 22-day operation in Gaza was to take out
Islamist militants who have been firing homemade rockets at
communities in southern Israel for years.
a Palestinian human rights group said that
of Israeli soldiers over actions during last January's war on the
Gaza Strip will be used as supporting evidence in a legal case
against Israeli commanders.
"The report has not come out with new (findings)," said Sha'awan
Jabareen, head of Al Haq, a West-Bank Palestinian non-governmental
human rights organisation.
he said, "It gives an addition that Israeli actions during the war
on Gaza were not individual isolated actions, but rather a policy."
Palestinian officials and international human rights organizations -
using figures provided by Palestinian sources - say 1,400 people
were killed in Gaza during the Israeli offensive.