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Army Accused by Knesset Member of Human Rights Abuses in Gaza

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Knesset member Dedi Zucker of the left-wing Meretz bloc has sent a report to Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin charging Israeli soldiers with human rights abuses in the Gaza Strip.

Zucker presented Rabin, who also serves as defense minister, with a firsthand report of the situation, based on a trip he made to the Gaza Strip last week.

Zucker decided to investigate personally, after hearing rumors of abuses by the Golani Brigade since a general closure of the territories was imposed three weeks ago.

During his visit to Gaza, Zucker gathered testimony from Gaza residents and said he heard stories of violent and excessive behavior by the brigade during searches of Palestinian homes.

The Knesset member said the stories should not be accepted at face value but should be checked, and that he hoped the army would investigate them.

“I’m concerned because it shouldn’t have been done, and I’m worried because other units have conducted the same searches without harassment,” Zucker said.

“Even though the army is obligated to carry out such ugly tasks, I would like to see a different type of army.”

A spokeswoman for the Prime Minister’s Office had no comment on Zucker’s report, saying she was not sure it had been received.

The Zucker report followed a letter last week also sent to Rabin by the human rights group, B’Tselem, calling for an end to “the arbitrary illegal acts” committed by soldiers in Gaza during the closure.

According to testimony taken by the group’s field researchers, residents were “punched, slapped and/or beaten with clubs by soldiers during house-to-house searches without any provocation by those beaten.”

B’Tselem called for a thorough investigation of the cases reported to its investigators.

An army spokesman said charges of abuse during the closure were being reviewed.

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