Israel bashing on Gaza frenzy continues; some soldiers disagree

Posted: March 20, 2009 by Jonathan Boyko in Gaza, IDF, Israel, Own Articles, Palestinians, War, West Bank
Tags: ,

Israeli soldiers in Gaza

Israeli soldiers in Gaza

While Israeli media outlets have already discovered that the soldiers who told stories of ‘murdering’ civilians in Gaza have never actually been on the scene of the event, but instead have heard about it, the media frenzy abroad is just starting. For example, Iranian PressTV has published an article on the issue just yesterday, citing Haaretz reports.

However, while the Leftist media and the international press focus themselves on unsubstantiated claims of murder of Gazan civilians, some IDF soldiers decided to speak out themselves on the issue, telling a whole different story:

According to [21-year-old Givati Brigade soldier Assaf] Danziger, soldiers were given specific orders to open fire only at armed terrorists or people who posed a threat. “There were no incidents of vandalism at any of the buildings we occupied. We did only what was justified and acted out of necessity. No one shot at civilians. People walked by us freely,” he recounted.

Another soldier adds:

“For instance, on three separate occasions my company commander checked soldiers’ bags for stolen goods. Those who stole the smallest things, like candy, were severely punished,” he said.

“We were forbidden from sleeping in Palestinians’ beds even when we had no alternate accommodations, and we didn’t touch any of their food even after we hadn’t had enough to eat for two days.”

Ynet also interviewed a reservist soldier, who had this to say:

“Wherever we were we tried to cause minimum damage,” said the paratrooper, who also asked to remain nameless. “We left some of the homes cleaner than they were before we occupied them. We even cleaned a refrigerator that really stunk.

“Even when we came across deserted stores, we didn’t even think of taking anything. One soldier took a can of food, but he immediately returned it after everyone yelled at him.”

Maj. (res.) Idan Zuaretz of Givati unit, reflected my thoughts just yesterday:

Zuaretz, a company commander, also questioned the integrity of the soldiers who made the controversial claims, saying “if this was such a burning issue for them, why have they remained silent until now? On an ethical and moral level, they were obligated to stop what they claimed had occurred and not wait two months to be heard at some esoteric debate.”

“I’ve seen a few things in my time, but even I was blown away by the level of professionalism displayed by the army,” Zuaretz said. “I personally gave my soldiers an order on the day we withdrew from Gaza to leave all of our goodies [things soldiers bring with them from home, such as candy] in the last house we occupied. Some reservists even left an envelope full of money to one Palestinian family.”

As reported previously, Givati brigade commander Ilan Malha has summoned the soldier, who reported the event; the latter said the event was hearsay.

While yesterday Haaretz ‘analyst’ Amos Harel has attacked IDF, today the man cannot back down and offer his apologies for the event. Instead, Harel blames IDF for ‘witch hunting’; then Harel blames the media for being all-too-willing to adopt IDF’s views (apparently, the view that the event is hearsay, which is actually true):

One of the most important jobs of public relations experts is damage control in the event of an image crisis. It is still impressive to see the energy invested in that Thurday, but it is disappointing – if not surprising – to see the enthusiasm with which major news outlets adopted IDF claims, either because the information was reported by the competition or because the testimony doesn’t fit the way “our IDF” is supposed to act.

The whole thing was accompanied by an intensive witch hunt for the sources, and an intimidation campaign against Oranim military prep graduates (the lefty Zamir has educated many decorated company commanders in the past decade).

Harel also states Haaretz correspondents have spoken with additional combat unit soldiers, and they “consider the testimonies they read very credible”. I believe this quote clearly shows the demise of today’s journalism, and lack of professionalism of Harel himself. The testimonies ‘read very credible’? On what grounds? What examples do they have of such behavior? Professional journalist should have asked those questions, instead of spewing worthless propaganda. In addition, if you take Harel’s article at the face value, it would seem that most soldiers in IDF’s combat units actually agree with those reports. However, as most Israeli males have served in the military – many in combat units – I know quite a few soldiers myself, some of them fought in Gaza and none of them believes the story. Harel should have presented both sides of the story.

Amos Harel also mentions his unhappiness of attacks on Daniel Zamir, the head of Yizhak Rabin pre-IDF preparatory course, which all soldiers telling the stories have attended; however, the Jerusalem Post quotes this writing by Zamir in 1990, the year when Zamir sat in prison for breaching the order of guarding Jewish religious personnel at Joseph’s tomb:

Zamir himself appears in a 2004 book titled Refusnik, Israel’s Soldiers of Conscience, compiled and edited by Peretz Kidron, with a forward by Susan Sontag. The book, which earned commendation from no less a personage than Noam Chomsky, includes a section by Zamir, described as “an officer in the reserves from Kibbutz Ayelet Hashahar who was sentenced to 28 days for refusal to serve in Nablus and now heads the Kibbutz Movement’s preparatory seminary for youngsters ahead of their induction in the army.”

“With stupid resolve and the smugness of the all-knowing, primitive preachers and unbridled nationalists are leading and misleading us to calamity, while Pompeii is preoccupied with watching boxing matches and with banquets in advance of the disaster,” he wrote.

“I see a volcano in the land where one-third of the inhabitants are banned, by dint of their national and ethnic origins and geographical location, from voting as equals, where they don’t have basic civic rights and where thousands are detained under administrative decree – under a military justice system that is farcical.

“A land, a third of whose inhabitants have been subjected to extended military occupation for over 20 years – which means restrictions of rights and a different code of law for Jewish and Arab residents in the selfsame land – is not a democratic country.

“Accordingly, collaboration with a regime or government that forces or orders me to be part of an anti-democratic apparatus that leads to self-destruction, disintegration and national decay, along with the utter denial of its own foundations, is illegitimate, unjust and immoral, and will remain so as long as the state does not take one of only two feasible actions: annexation of all or most of the territories conquered in 1967 and granting full civil rights to those residing there; or withdrawal from densely populated areas and a settlement that will release us of responsibility for the residents of those areas, who will chose for themselves whatever regime they desire (of course with security arrangements included).”

Zamir says the settlers (yes, those people whom Palestinians butchered on the road home; this page, for example, has many records of settlers murdered by Palestinian terrorists) are evil nationalists, doing their evil deeds while hiding them from general public; the Palestinians are oppressed under military occupation, which he refuses to support. Zamir forgets thousands of cases of Palestinian terrorism prior the occupation, previous wars and the unwillingness of Palestinian government (Yaser Arafat in particular) to create a Palestinian state and compromise in order to achieve peace.

Now, read again quotes from Zamir. Do you still think this person could have educated fair and balanced soldiers, who would clearly see the situation in Gaza? Thanks to Amos Harel, Zamir finally has his public stage for propaganda, with little opposition from the press.

  1. […] And in quite a few cases, it probably was. What BtS fails to address, is the full picture – both sides of the story, that is. While some soldiers accused IDF of using excessive force – all well documented by Palestinian Rights Groups – other accounts were mostly left out of attention. Take a look: […]

  2. […] claims by two (2) IDF soldiers label thousands of other troops. Yet, Harel entirely ignores testimonies by other soldiers, who testified to cleaning up houses of Palestinians after staying there for the […]

  3. […] of IDF soldiers ‘admitting’ to killing Palestinian civilians in cold blood (and later, rebuttals by some current IDF soldiers). Backspin adds some great commentaries on the […]

  4. […] murder and vandalism, some soldiers responded by describing the other side of the medal, as I have written about […]

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