Wednesday, July 29, 2015

  • Wednesday, July 29, 2015
  • Elder of Ziyon
Amnesty International today is releasing yet another report that tries to prove Israel committed war crimes in last year's Gaza war, this time regarding the events surrounding the kidnapping of Lt. Hadar Goldin in Rafah - who was abducted during a ceasefire.

Just like the Gaza Platform, the upcoming report uses the services of the anti-Zionist "Forensics Architecture" team to take one-sided evidence and twist it to make it look like an impartial investigation.

At the moment, only the executive summary is available. Yet even its use of sources proves its bias.

It quotes two IDF soldiers who were interviewed by "Breaking the Silence" to prove purposeful Israeli fire into civilian areas.

An Israeli infantry officer described to Israeli NGO Breaking the Silence the events that
ensued after the Hannibal Directive was announced on the radio:
“The minute ‘Hannibal Directive’ is declared on the radio, there are consequences. There’s a fire procedure called the ‘Hannibal fire procedure’ – you fire at every suspicious place that merges with a central route. You don’t spare any means.”
Here's the entire testimony:

So I heard that the reconnaissance platoon got into a confrontation, and that it looked like we were talking about two [IDF soldiers] dead and one captured. That’s when the mess got started. The minute ‘Hannibal Directive’ is declared on the radio, there are consequences. There’s a fire procedure called the ‘Hannibal fire procedure’ – you fire at every suspicious place that merges with a central route. You don’t spare any means. A thousand shells were fired that Friday morning, at all the central intersections. The entire Tancher [Route] (the continuation of Highway 4 in Gaza) was bombed. The air force attacked places inside Rafah City, places in which we knew there were Hamas militants. Was there collateral damage to houses? I’m sure there was. It was very intense, that incident. After the area was hit by 1,000 shells that Friday morning, I saw Tancher in ruins. Everything totally wrecked.
Even the BtS soldier says that there was no intent to hurt civilians and that no civilian structures were directly targeted..

Here's Amnesty's second quote:
An artillery soldier said his battery was “firing at a maximum fire rate” right into inhabited areas.

The full testimony:
During occasions when there was a significant amount of fire [directed at our forces], or during the ground incursion to Gaza – to Shuja’iyya – I know my unit fired a lot. One of the senior officers in my unit talked about how we had fired [at targets] that were in very close proximity to our forces, how we had really saved them. He said it was an important mission and that apparently during it we had also killed a number of civilians. They said that tragically, some uninvolved civilians were apparently hit, but that it was a situation where it would either be our troops or civilians [being harmed]. He said that it wasn’t even a question, that it was obvious that our troops [came first]. They emphasized the fact that that was obviously not done on purpose.

Did he say what the mission itself was, what the role of the [artillery] battery was?
To assist them with artillery fire. If they need flare shells, or if they need smoke to conceal themselves, or, of course, if they need explosive shells to evacuate [forces from the field]. The battery fired 900 shells [that night], and the battalion fired about 1,200 or 1,500, I think. There were certain stages during which we were firing at a maximum fire rate – after Goldin was kidnapped, (an IDF soldier captured near Rafah) and in Shuja’iyya.
Keep in mind that breaking the Silence itself cherry picks IDF soldiers' testimonies already to make the IDF look as bad as possible. Amnesty is further taking the BtS quotes out of context as evidence of war crimes.

It is not a war crime, or a violation of international law, to prioritize soldier's lives higher than unintended civilian casualties. On the contrary - it is what a normal military commander is supposed to do in every army on Earth. But Amnesty does not like to tel its readers what actual international law is.

Other quotes that Amnesty supposedly claims as evidence of "war crimes" are not directly quoted in the executive summary - we just have to trust Amnesty that these quotes exist and mean what they claim they mean:

Public statements by Israeli army commanders and soldiers after the conflict provide compelling reasons to conclude that some attacks that killed civilians and destroyed homes and property were intentionally carried out and motivated by a desire for revenge – to teach a lesson to, or punish, the population of Rafah for the capture of Lieutenant Goldin.

There is consequently strong evidence that many such attacks in Rafah between 1 and 4 August were serious violations of international humanitarian law and constituted grave breaches of the Fourth Geneva Convention or other war crimes.
If they have quotes like that, why not use them in this summary? Because the quotes are not nearly as clear-cut as Amnesty wants the world to believe, and they know that reporters will trust their analysis of the quotes rather than evaluate them directly.

Interestingly, the executive summary doesn't mention the number of civilians killed in this operation. BtS said "between 41-150 Palestinians were killed, many of them civilians." That is a very imprecise number. It will be interesting to see if the Forensics Architecture team, supposedly committed to unbiased research, bothered during the past year to determine exactly how many civilians were actually killed during these three days of unbridled firepower in an urban battlefield where Hamas is purposefully hiding among civilians.

Civilians were killed in Rafah. It was tragic. Amnesty wants the world to believe that it was deliberate and they are willing to spend lots of money and effort to twist the truth to reach their pre-determined conclusions.

UPDATE: The final report does not contain a single quote that indicates that IDF soldiers intended to "take revenge." The only quote from a soldier that mentions "revenge" says the exact opposite: '“Anyone who abducts should know that he will pay a price. This was not revenge. "

Amnesty is lying.

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