On July 18, a bombshell report appeared in the Israeli daily Yediot Aharanot. The article, which has only been published in Hebrew and was buried on page 8 as a small news item, stated that 550 officers and soldiers who participated in Israel’s assault on the Gaza Strip in late 2008 and early 2009 have been questioned by IDF military police about possible war crimes the IDF committed during Cast Lead. Among them is the former commander of the Givati Brigade, Ilan Malka, who was interrogated for an air strike that resulted in the killing of 21 members of one family in Gaza City. At least one other soldier is accused of using human shields, or “use of neighbor” tactics. In fact, nearly all battalion commanders who participated in Cast Lead have been interrogated regarding their conduct. Maybe Judge Goldstone wasn’t so crazy after all.
A full translation of the article is below:
YEDIOT AHARONOT Sunday, July 18, 2010 page 8
Officers under interrogation
550 OFFICERS AND SOLDIERS OF “CAST LEAD” HAVE BEEN INTERROGATED.
By our military correspondent Yossi Yehoshua
Brigadier Ilan Malka is not alone. More than 550 officers and men of IDF who participated in the “Cast Lead” operation have been interrogated by the investigative military police of the IDF in the last 18 months.
Last Friday “Yediot Aharonot” wrote that former GIV’ATI brigade commander [Ilan Malka A.O.] will be interrogated about an aerial attack in “Cast Lead” that killed 21 members of one [Gaza A.O.] family. It now turns out that hundreds more were interrogated, some more than once. Among the interrogated are almost all battalion commanders who participated in the operation and dozens of soldiers in regular service and in the reserves. It is a number without precedent in any other [Israeli A.O.] operation or war. Senior officers expressed their worry that this will create a situation in future wars where commanders in the field will think twice before carrying out problematic operations, due to fear of legal steps taken against them later. Battalion and platoon commanders who participated in “Cast Lead” find it difficult to go through the interrogations. One battalion commander said he had to spend his few days of Leave in interrogation chambers instead of with his family. He said “Even if they try to deny it the damage caused to commanders is immense” adding “It is an unpleasant feeling to risk your life for your country and then be interrogated about it again and again”.
So far the interrogations gave rise to a considerable number of disciplinary – and legal – steps. The most serious one was taken last week when the Chief Military Prosecutor, Aloof Avihai Mandelblit, decided to charge a Giv’ati soldier for committing murder. On another occasion he decided to court-martial a Golani battalion commander for ignoring IDF instructions forbidding “use of neighbor” tactics.
(My note: “Use of neighbor” tactic is the act where soldiers preparing to enter a suspected house force the neighbors to walk in front of them as a human shield.)