This is a press release issued by Israel’s Foreign Ministry:
Military Police investigation on Rabin Center statements: Based on hearsay
(Communicated by the IDF Spokesperson)
The Military Advocate General, Brig. Gen. Avichai Mendelblit, decided to close the Criminal Investigation Department of the Military Police case of the statements made by soldiers at the Rabin Military Preparation Center about Operation Cast Lead. This decision was made after the Military Police investigation found that the crucial components of their descriptions were based on hearsay and not supported by specific personal knowledge. In particular, this includes the two alleged stories that raised suspicion of acts in which uninvolved non-combatants were fired upon.
Additionally, it was found that once the claims were checked, they were not supported by the facts as determined by the investigation.
The investigation was initiated by the Military Advocate General after reviewing claims made during a conference at the Rabin Military Preparation Center in which soldiers who participated in Operation Cast Lead were present. The Criminal Investigation Department of the Military Police was ordered to investigate the claims made, with an emphasis on the alleged firing at uninvolved non-combatants.
The investigation concluded from the soldiers who participated in the conference that the stories told were purposely exaggerated and made extreme, in order to make a point with the participants of the conference.
For example, the story in which a soldier was claimed to have been given orders to fire at an elderly woman was clarified during the investigation. In fact, the soldier witnessed no such thing, and was only repeating a rumor he had heard. In an unrelated investigation, it was found that in a similar incident, a woman, suspected as being a suicide bomber, approached an IDF force, which opened fired towards her after repeatedly trying to stop her from advancing.
This same soldier admitted that he had not witnessed the additional disrespectful and immoral incidents he had described during the conference.
A claim made by a different soldier who had supposedly been ordered to open fire at a woman and two children was also clarified as an incident that he had not witnessed. After checking the claim, it was found that during this incident a force had opened fire in a different direction, towards two suspicious men who were unrelated to the civilians in question.
During the Military Police investigation, two additional claims arose regarding improper conduct. These claims were separate from those made at the Rabin Military Preparation Center. It was found that these incidents do not raise suspicion of unjustified opening of fire. This finding is based on a debriefing which had occurred close to the time of one of the incidents and upon further investigation conducted by the Military Police.
It must be stated that during these investigations, the participants at the Rabin Center said that they had based their claims relating to the use of phosphorous munitions on what they had heard in the media and not on their personal knowledge.
The Military Advocate General, Brig. Gen. Avichai Mendelblit, concluded the findings of the Military Police investigation:
“It is unfortunate that none of the speakers at the conference was careful to be accurate in the depiction of his claims, and even more so that they chose to present various incidents of a severe nature, despite not personally witnessing and knowing much about them. It seems that it will be difficult to evaluate the damage done to the image and morals of the IDF and its soldiers, who had participated in Operation Cast Lead, in Israel and the world.”
The IDF Spokesperson Unit wishes to stress that the Military Advocate General’s conclusions refer solely to the investigations that focused on the transcripts of the Rabin Military Preparation Center conference, in addition to the two separate aforementioned claims. This investigation is additional and not a substitute for the investigations conducted on all levels of the IDF, following Operation Cast Lead.
General Mendelbit writes, “It seems that it will be difficult to evaluate the damage done to the image and morals of the IDF and its soldiers, who had participated in Operation Cast Lead, in Israel and the world.”
I don’t think it’s that difficult to evaluate. The General could, for example, make a scale with 1 being the lowest number and 10 being the highest. He can be confident that the results to his question will appear low, in the lower half of the scale. The damage these idiot soldiers have caused is severe, and that is saying a lot considering how Israel was viewed after Gaza. Nobody will believe the IDF investigation (“Oh, they conveniently shut it down…”), and within Israel, soldiers who put themselves at risk to preserve the lives of others and to be ethical in war, will wonder why they bothered and whether they should put themselves in such risk again. These soldiers, and the man who led the publication of their stories, Zamir, should be punished in some way for the libel.