JERUSALEM — The Israeli military said Tuesday that it had indicted “a number of” officers and soldiers for their actions during Israel’s three-week offensive in Gaza in the winter of 2008-9, including a staff sergeant accused of deliberately targeting at least one Palestinian civilian who was walking with a group of people waving a white flag.
The announcement came nearly 18 months after the end of the war, and on the day that Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, was scheduled to meet in Washington with President Obama in an effort to improve strained ties. A spokesman for the Israeli military denied any link between the timing of the announcement the prime minister’s trip.
According to the army statement, the chief military prosecutor has decided to take disciplinary and legal action in four separate cases, including some highlighted by human rights groups and by a scathing United Nations report on the war. The report, by a committee led by Richard Goldstone, a South African judge, was published in September 2009 and pointed to evidence of possible war crimes.
The offensive came as a response to years of rocket fire against southern Israel from Gaza, and after Hamas, the anti-Israel Islamic militant group, took full control of Gaza in mid-2007. Up to 1,400 Palestinians and 13 Israelis were killed in the war.
Israel refused to cooperate with the Goldstone mission, arguing that the mandate was biased from the outset, and it rejected the report. It also resisted calls by Israeli and international human rights organizations for an independent Israeli investigation outside the military framework.
In a third case, the chief of staff ordered disciplinary action against an officer who ordered an aerial strike on a militant involved in launching rockets. The man was standing outside the Ibrahim al-Maqadma mosque, the army said, and the shrapnel caused what it called unintentional injuries to civilians inside. The Goldstone Report said that an Israeli projectile struck near the doorway of the mosque, in northern Gaza, during evening prayers, killing at least 15 civilians who were mostly inside.
The military said that the officer had “failed to exercise appropriate judgment,” adding that he would not serve in similar positions of command in the future and that he had been rebuked.
In addition, the chief military prosecutor ordered a criminal investigation by the Military Police into an air strike on a house that held about a hundred members of the extended Samouni family in Zeitoun, a district of Gaza city.
That case stirred particular outrage around the world as Palestinian paramedics were prevented by Israeli forces from reaching the house for days after the initial strike. Red Cross officials then publicized their discovery of four emaciated Samouni children who had been trapped in the home with the corpses of their mothers. In all, up to 30 Samounis died.
The white flag episode has been widely publicized. According to Palestinian witness testimony gathered by Human Rights Watch, the Goldstone mission and others, a group of 28 Palestinian civilians from two families set out on Jan 4, 2009 in the Juhr al-Dik area, south of Gaza city, trying to evacuate the area after their homes were shelled.
According to the witnesses, the group was fired on from the direction of some Israeli tanks. They said that Majida Abu Hajjaj, in her 30s, was killed while waving a white flag. Her mother, Rayya, was also fatally shot.
New York Times
Can't wait to hear all those denunciations from lawmakers that will never come and see all the outrage from pundits on my TV that will never be shown.
And remember that if you even so much as suggested that anything like this happened in the aftermath of the Israeli seige on Gaza you were deemed anti Semetic or insufficiently supportive of Israel.