TEL AVIV (Feb. 22)
The International Committee of the Red Cross claims in a letter to Israel that its soldiers have acted brutally toward Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Officials in Jerusalem said the harsh tone in the letter from Maurice Aubert, vice president of the Geneva-based Red Cross, was “unprecedented” and a marked departure from the organization’s normally “subdued” language.
The letter said the ICRC had “irrefutable proof” that at least three Arabs have died as a result of beatings administered by Israel Defense. Force soldiers. It said that “thousands of people have been the victims of brutality and ill-treatment at the hands of Israeli soldiers.”
It appealed to Premier Yitzhak Shamir to “bring to an immediate end these serious acts perpetrated against civilians.”
Meanwhile, Defense Minister Yitzhak Rabin observed at Sunday’s Cabinet meeting that “some of our critics abroad, in Western countries for instance, are themselves devoid of the moral basis on which to condemn us, in view of their own records.”
Rabin admitted that some abuses have occurred and maintained they could not be eliminated entirely. But he said every alleged military excess brought to the attention of authorities was investigated and handled. He reiterated that “beatings are not administered as a form of punishment.”