The United Nations Human Rights Commission recently released a report on Israel’s war in Gaza. The report severely criticizes Israel for documented and verified reports of violations “too numerous to list.”
According to CNN, the report gave an account of how in a town southwest of Gaza City, Israel Defense Forces (IDF) soldiers ordered an 11-year-old boy to open Palestinians’ packages, presumably so that the soldiers would not be hurt if they turned out to contain explosives.
They then forced the boy to walk in front of them in the town, it said. When the soldiers came under fire, “the boy remained in front of the group”.
The report cited two alleged incidents from January 3. In one, it said, after a tank round struck near a house, a father and his two sons — both younger than 11 — emerged to look at the damage.
“As they exited their home, IDF soldiers shot and killed them (at the entrance to their house), with the daughter witnessing,” the report said.
In the second, it said, “Israeli soldiers entered a family house in the Zeitoun neighborhood of Gaza City. Standing at the doorstep, they asked the male head of the household to come out and shot him dead, without warning, while he was holding his ID, hands raised up in the air, and then started to fire indiscriminately and without warning into the room where the rest of the family was huddled together.
“The eldest son was shouting in vain the word ‘Children’ in Hebrew to warn the soldiers. The shooting did not stop until everyone was lying on the floor. The mother and four of the brothers, aged 2-12 years, had been wounded, one of them, aged 4, fatally.”
In a separate report by Israeli newspaper Haaretz, a group of Israeli soldiers said that Palestinian civilians were killed and Palestinian property intentionally destroyed during Israel’s recent 22-day offensive in the Gaza Strip.
In one account, a squad leader from a brigade serving in Gaza described an incident in which he said an elderly Palestinian woman was shot and killed at the orders of a company commander:
“One of our officers, a company commander, saw someone coming on some road — a woman, an old woman. She was walking along pretty far away, but close enough so you could take out someone you saw there. If she were suspicious, not suspicious — I don’t know. In the end, he sent people up to the roof, to take her out with their weapons. From the description of this story, I simply felt it was murder in cold blood.”
According to the Haaretz transcript, the squad leader protested the rules of engagement, which he said allowed soldiers to fire on Palestinian homes without giving residents a warning. After the rules were changed, his soldiers complained that “we should kill everyone there [in the center of Gaza]. Everyone there is a terrorist.”
According to Haaretz, the squad leader went on to say that, “You do not get the impression from the officers that there is any logic to it, but they won’t say anything. To write ‘death to the Arabs’ on the walls, to take family pictures and spit on them, just because you can. I think this is the main thing: To understand how much the IDF has fallen in the realm of ethics, really. It’s what I’ll remember the most.”
All these war crimes remind me of the evils perpetrated by another occupying force – the Japanese Imperial Army during World War Two, and what they did to the Chinese and other Asians in China, Korea and Southeast Asia.