Earlier this week, Ha’aretz began a series of reports on the behavior of Israeli Defense Force soldiers in Gaza based on accounts from the soldiers themselves.
These reports confirm many of the stories that were reported in the Palestinian media – and also in international press reports, as well as in our coverage. The reports were shocking, and the testimonies given by the soldiers involved adds to the shock since soldiers appear to see nothing wrong with things like this:
"There was a house with a family inside …. We put them in a room. Later we left the house and another platoon entered it, and a few days after that there was an order to release the family. They had set up positions upstairs. There was a sniper position on the roof," the soldier said.
"The platoon commander let the family go and told them to go to the right. One mother and her two children didn’t understand and went to the left, but they forgot to tell the sharpshooter on the roof they had let them go and it was okay, and he should hold his fire and he … he did what he was supposed to, like he was following his orders."
According to the squad leader: "The sharpshooter saw a woman and children approaching him, closer than the lines he was told no one should pass. He shot them straight away. In any case, what happened is that in the end he killed them.
The squad leader later says:
“To understand how much the IDF has fallen in the realm of ethics, really. It’s what I’ll remember the most."
Today, another story in Ha’aretz makes it very clear how very far from “the realm of ethics” the IDF really is. In Israel, when IDF units finish their training or a mission, they have t-shirts printed up to wear at home and on their bases. These t-shirts are designed and drawn by the soldiers, and approved by their officers. And what is on those t-shirts?
A sharpshooter’s T-shirt from the Givati Brigade’s Shaked battalion shows a pregnant Palestinian woman with a bull’s-eye superimposed on her belly, with the slogan, in English, "1 shot, 2 kills."
For example, the Lavi battalion produced a shirt featuring a drawing of a soldier next to a young woman with bruises, and the slogan, "Bet you got raped!"
What is the idea behind the shirt from July 2007, which has an image of a child with the slogan "Smaller – harder!"?
"It’s a kid, so you’ve got a little more of a problem, morally, and also the target is smaller."
The IDF has now announced that they will investigate the reports in the soldiers’ accounts (a transcript of some of these can be found here), though they received a full report on the discussion two weeks ago. They have known about the t-shirts all along.