FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

Israeli Human Rights Group Assails IDF

An Israeli human rights group is charging in a new report that its country’s army is behaving with “blatant disregard for the lives of Palestinian civilians” and a “complete lack of military accountability” as tensions in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict appear to be heightening.

The report, by the Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories, or B’Tselem, covers the fatal shootings of 15 Palestinians, at least nine of whom were unarmed, by the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) after the army’s incursion into the Palestinian-controlled Bethlehem region last October 19-25.

B’Tselem’s investigation found that “in all the cases described in the report, no shots were fired toward IDF soldiers from the immediate vicinity of the civilians who were killed.”

That record demonstrated that the IDF’s pledge to make every effort to avoid harm to innocent civilians amounted to an “empty promise,” according to the report. “Even if there was no intention to harm civilians, no real effort was made to avoid it,” the report said, adding, “These are not isolated incidents.”

The report was issued amid a renewed U.S. effort to mediate a permanent ceasefire between Israel and the Palestinians as a prelude to a resumption of long-stalled peace talks. The effort is being led by Washington’s special envoy, retired General Anthony Zinni, who has returned to Washington after a four-day shuttle mission between the two sides during which they both agreed to try to maintain a tenuous truce.

But the truce was apparently broken this morning when two Palestinian gunmen killed four Israeli soldiers and wounded six others at an army post just outside the Gaza Strip before themselves being shot and killed. The Palestinian Islamist group Hamas claimed responsibility for the attack.

The attack, which was denounced as “extremely grave” by the IDF, ended three weeks of relative quiet and is considered almost certain to be followed by military retaliation by the government of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, quite possibly including new incursions into Palestinian Authority-controlled areas. The incursion into Bethlehem and other Palestinian territories on the West Bank and Gaza last October followed the assassination of Israel’s Tourism minister October 18.

More than 1,000 people have been killed–some three-quarters of victims Palestinians in the occupied territories–during the 16-month-long intifada which started after Sharon, then leader of the opposition, made a controversial visit to the site of one of Islam’s holiest shrines, the al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem.

The IDF’s response to B’Tselem’s latest report was that it was “unfamiliar” with most of the cases described, despite the fact that they have been previously reported by journalists and human rights groups.

The IDF has insisted that its soldiers in the field are instructed to return fire “only after identifying the source of the fire” precisely to minimize casualties among non-combatant civilians.

But B’Tselem says such orders are “difficult to reconcile…with the fact that, in the cases described, the IDF only kill civilians who were not involved in the hostilities.”

Among the cases covered are the killings of four unarmed Palestinians in their homes in the ‘Aida refugee camp by IDF gunfire from the Intercontinental Hotel. Another Palestinian was killed in his home in nearby Beit Jala.

It also cites damage inflicted by IDF shelling of Bethlehem’s two major hospitals, the killings of two Palestinians by “indiscriminate gunfire” from IDF armored personnel carriers as the army entered Bethlehem, and the killing of a 16-year-old boy in the square of the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, “far away” from the Latin Cemetery from where Palestinian gunmen were firing at IDF positions.

“The fact that the IDF has yet to investigate the cases presented in the report once again demonstrates the IDF’s blatant disregard for the lives of Palestinian civilians,” B’Tselem said, adding that the army, “since the beginning of the current intifada, has shirked its obligation to conduct serious investigations” into such incidents.

B’Tselem is not alone in criticizing the IDF on this score. A Los Angeles Times review published last week found “a pattern of questionable Israeli military action and minimal inquiry into what went wrong, as well as little if any disciplinary action.”

Some left-wing Israeli lawmakers and former army officers have also argued that the lack of serious investigations and accountability were undermining morale and discipline in the IDF.

More articles by:
August 12, 2020
Melvin Goodman
Trump’s War On Arms Control and Disarmament
P. Sainath
“We Didn’t Bleed Him Enough”: When Normal is the Problem
Riva Enteen
Kamala Harris? Really? Desperate Times, Desperate Measures
Kenneth Surin
The Decrepit UK Political System
Robert Hunziker
Freakish Arctic Fires Alarmingly Intensify
Ramzy Baroud
The Likud Conspiracy: Israel in the Throes of a Major Political Crisis
Sam Pizzigati
Within Health Care USA, Risk and Reward Have Never Been More Out of Kilter
John Perry
The US Contracts Out Its Regime Change Operation in Nicaragua
Binoy Kampmark
Selective Maritime Rules: The United States, Diego Garcia and International Law
Manuel García, Jr.
The Improbability of CO2 Removal From the Atmosphere
Khury Petersen-Smith
The Road to Portland: The Two Decades of ‘Homeland Security’
Raouf Halaby
Teaching Palestinian Children to Love Beethoven, Bizet, and Mozart is a Threat to a Depraved Israeli Society
Jeff Mackler
Which Way for Today’s Mass Radicalization? Capitalism’s Impending Catastrophe…or a Socialist Future
Tom Engelhardt
It Could Have Been Different
Stephen Cooper
Santa Davis and the “Stalag 17” Riddim
August 11, 2020
Richard D. Wolff
Why Capitalism is in Constant Conflict With Democracy
Paul Street
Defund Fascism, Blue and Orange
Richard C. Gross
Americans Scorned
Andrew Levine
Trump and Biden, Two Ignoble Minds Here O’erthrown
Patrick Cockburn
The Rise of Nationalism Has Led to the Increased Repression of Minorities
Sonali Kolhatkar
Trump’s Presidency is a Death Cult
Colin Todhunter
Pushing GMO Crops into India: Experts Debunk High-Level Claims of Bt Cotton Success
Valerie Croft
How Indigenous Peoples are Using Ancestral Organizing Practices to Fight Mining Corporations and Covid-19
David Rovics
Tear Gas Ted Has a Tantrum in Portland
Dean Baker
There is No Evidence That Generous Unemployment Benefits are Making It Difficult to Find Workers
Robert Fantina
War on Truth: How Kashmir Struggles for Freedom of Press
Dave Lindorff
Trump Launches Attack on Social Security and Medicare
Elizabeth Schmidt
COVID-19 Poses a Huge Threat to Stability in Africa
Parth M.N.
Coping With a Deadly Virus, a Social One, Too
Thomas Knapp
The “Election Interference” Fearmongers Think You’re Stupid
Binoy Kampmark
Mealy-Mouthed Universities: Academic Freedom and the Pavlou Problem Down Under
Mike Garrity
Emperor Trump Loses Again in the Northern Rockies in Big Win for Bull Trout, Rivers and the ESA
Alex Lawson
34 Attorneys General Call to Bust Gilead’s Pharma Monopoly on COVID Treatment Remdesivir
August 10, 2020
Gerald Sussman
Biden’s Ukrainegate Problem
Vijay Prashad – Érika Ortega Sanoja
How the U.S. Failed at Its Foreign Policy Toward Venezuela
Daniel Warner
Geneva: The Home of Lost Causes
Mike Hastie
The Police Force Stampede in Portland on August 8, 2020 
Jack Rasmus
Trump’s Executive Orders: EOs as PR and FUs
Rev. William Alberts
Cognitive Without Conscience
David Altheide
Politicizing Fear Through the News Media
F. Douglas Stephenson
Is Big Pharma More Interested in Profiteering Than Protecting Us From Coronavirus?
Evaggelos Vallianatos
The Money Plague
Howard Lisnoff
Revolutionaries Living in a System of Growing Fascism
Ralph Nader
Donald Trump is Defeating Himself
Lynnette Grey Bull
The Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women Human Rights Emergency is Not a Photo-Op for Ivanka Trump
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail