Israeli veterans say lax rules of engagement led to destruction in Gaza


(JTA) — Testimonies from over 60 Israeli soldiers who fought in last summer’s Gaza war said that “permissive” rules of engagement led to indiscriminate artillery fire that caused unnecessary damage to Palestinian civilians.

The 237-page report released by the group Breaking the Silence on Monday called the Israel Defense Forces’ behavior during the military operation titled Protective Edge an “ethical failure … from the top of the chain of command.” The report features interviews with combatants and soldiers who served in command centers.

The soldiers described shooting at innocent civilians and aimlessly destroying property and vegetation.

“If we don’t see someone waving a white flag, screaming, ‘I give up’ or something — then he’s a threat and there’s authorization to open fire,” said a first sergeant serving in the Mechanized Infantry in Gaza.

The IDF repudiated the report.

“Unfortunately, as in the past, Breaking the Silence has refused to provide the IDF with any proof of their claims,” an IDF spokeswoman told Reuters.

Over 2,100 Palestinians were killed in the conflict last July and August compared to 66 Israeli soldiers and six Israeli civilians. The number of civilian casualties among the Palestinians sparked accusations of war crimes against Israeli soldiers.

Israel has denied any wrongdoing and launched investigations in response to the accusations.

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