JERUSALEM (May. 29)
The senior Israeli army commander in the Gaza Strip personally witnessed brutality against Palestinian civilians and did nothing to stop it, an Israeli colonel has testified.
On one occasion, Maj. Gen. Yitzhak Mordechai personally beat the face and neck of an elderly, well-dressed Arab who had refused to remove a roadblock for which he had not been responsible, the colonel charged.
The Israel Defense Force officer, identified only as Col. A., was called to testify at the trial of four reserve soldiers charged with brutally beating two Palestinian prisoners in the Gaza Strip in February 1988, two months after the intifada began. One of the prisoners died of his wounds.
At the time, Mordechai was head of the IDF Southern Command, which includes the Gaza Strip. He now heads the IDF Central Command, which includes the West Bank.
Col. A., who served on Mordechai’s staff at the time, said he was disgusted by the fact that “senior officers do not stand behind the order which they themselves gave,” and allowed their subordinates to face judicial proceedings for obeying such orders.
He said orders were given to inflict such beatings as punishment, and the only restriction imposed was to not cause death by beating.
“And every junior officer did as he saw fit within that framework,” he said.