Rassegna Stampa Elezioni Israeliane 2009

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Israeli Military Closes Probe into Gaza Misconduct

Posted by valecardia su 30 marzo, 2009

WASHINGTON POST

JERUSALEM, March 30 — The Israeli military’s top lawyer on Monday closed an investigation into alleged misconduct during the recent three-week war in Gaza, concluding that charges made by graduates of a military preparation school were “based on hearsay” and had been “purposely exaggerated.”

In a statement, the Israel Defense Forces said that Brig. Gen. Avichai Mandelblit concluded there was no evidence to support the most serious charges, including alleged instances where civilians were shot without cause and soldiers unnecessarily destroyed or defaced property.

“Once the claims were checked, they were not supported by the facts,” the statement said.

Mandelblit was quoted in the release criticizing the soldiers who had made the allegations during a forum set up at the Rabin Military Preparation Center earlier this year.

“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,” Mandelblit said. “It seems that it will be difficult to evaluate the damage done to the image and morals of the IDF and its soldiers” as a result of the allegations.

The head of the center forwarded the allegations to military officials after the conference, and later published them in a newsletter distributed to the center’s alumni. The center is one of a number in Israel where future recruits can spend a year on a variety of educational or other projects before doing their mandatory military service.

The charges made at the Rabin center are part of ongoing controversy that has developed within Israel and internationally over the country’s 22-day Operation Cast Lead in Gaza. Launched to quell rockets fired by Islamist groups from Gaza into Israeli towns and villages, the military operation involved hundreds of air strikes, mortar and artillery fire, and the movement of several thousand Israeli soldiers into Gaza.

Between 1,200 and 1,400 Palestinians were killed — the two sides differ in their estimates. Israel acknowledges there were at least 295 civilian deaths, though it says the bulk of those killed were fighters associated with the Islamist Hamas movement and other groups. Palestinian officials say the deaths were mostly civilian.

In the release today, the IDF said the charges raised at the Rabin center appeared to be secondhand versions of events that “were purposely exaggerated and made extreme, in order to make a point.”

For example, a soldier who relayed the alleged shooting of an elderly woman “was only repeating a rumor he had heard.”

The IDF statement said that an unrelated investigation had discovered a “similar incident” in which a woman “suspected as being a suicide bomber” advanced towards Israeli soldiers.

The soldiers “opened fire towards her after repeatedly trying to stop her from advancing,” the IDF release said.

The release did not say whether the woman was killed or whether she was carrying explosives. An official with the IDF said no further information was available.

Washington Post Foreign Service
Monday, March 30, 2009; 1:47 PM

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/03/30/AR2009033001240.html

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