The Israeli military deliberately targeted Palestinian civilians and their homes during the Gaza war last year, according to a damning report released on Monday.
The report contains the graphic, first-hand accounts of more than 60 combatants describing how soldiers in certain areas were told to assume anyone left was a target.
Israel has repeatedly lied on the matter, denying that its forces purposely targeted civilians during the 50-day conflict which killed more than 2,100 Palestinians.
The stunning revelations show both the contempt the country, which experienced its own genocide, has for the life of another race and the hopelessness of peace in the region. Former president Jimmy Carter dismissed the possibility of peace in the regiona over the weekend.
The testimony of the soldiers focused heavily on ground forces but included air force personnel as well, indicating the order to murder civilians came from the very top and not unit-level commanders. The names of the soliders have been withheld in the 240-page report compiled by Breaking the Silence, an organisation of veteran Israeli soldiers which documents misconduct by the military.
The report catalogs a series of statements where soldiers were told that any Palestinians they saw were classified as “terrorists” and they could “shoot any person positively identified as not belonging to the IDF [Israeli Defence Forces]”.
One soldier based in central Gaza, said a commander told him: “Anything there is as good as dead. Anything you see moving in the neighborhoods you’re in is not supposed to be there. The civilians know they are not supposed to be there. Therefore whoever you see there, you kill.”
In another cold-blooded account, a lieutenant who was deployed in one of the worst-hit neighborhoods in Gaza, said soldiers were given a list of targets that could not be fired at unless authorization had been given from a commander. These included schools, nurseries, the Palestinian refugee agency UNRWA, hospitals, petrol and power stations and community centres.
“They were marked in green, very clearly” the soldier said.
And yet when asked if these were bombed the lieutenant replied: “Yes, take the neighborhood of Shujaieh – almost all locations on the forbidden list there were bombed. Each one had its own particular story, but ultimately they were bombed”.
The report also contains startling testimony of how Palestinian houses were entered, used and then destroyed by the military.
“When we entered this house everything inside was already a mess. Anything that could shatter had been shattered, because everything had been shot at. Anything made of glass – windows, a glass table, picture frames – it was all wrecked. All the beds turned over, the rugs, the mattresses.”
According to the report, once the military left Gaza the houses were then blown up.
Throughout the report soldiers outlined mass destruction of civilian infrastructure and homes, often without clear operational justification.
When asked about the targeting of civilians in Gaza, IDF spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Peter Lerner said he could not comment on anonymous information.
Breaking the Silence have called for an independent review of Israeli conduct during the operation as nearly all the 2,100 Palestinians killed were civilians.
The shocking allegations show just how impossible peace is and how little regard for Israel its neighbors in the region have for it. By slaughtering Arab civilians the country further ostracizes itself from those in its own backyard, who increasingly possess significant military might.
It also shows a stunning lack of regard for human life, the very reason the Israeli state was established in the first place.