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May 8, 2015 6:11 pm

Israeli Soldiers Call ‘Breaking the Silence’ Report on Gaza War a ‘Total Lie’

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Israel soldiers. Photo: Israel Defense Forces.

IDF soldiers from various units who fought in last summer’s war between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip called a recent report by NGO Breaking the Silence a “total lie.”

The soldiers spoke to Israel’s Channel 2 to tell their side of the story, and to counter the testimonies compiled by Breaking the Silence.

One soldier called the report “a wicked story” and a “stab in the back.”

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Another soldier, Lt. Oren (a pseudonym), was a platoon commander in the 7th Brigade during the previous Operation Cast Lead, which began in late 2008. The Breaking the Silence report claimed that one of the tank commanders in Oren’s platoon carried out a “revenge attack” by targeting civilian houses in Gaza.

Oren refuted the claim, saying “this nonsense about ‘fire on the house that you want for revenge’ is simply a total lie.”

He said “it is very hard for me to believe that one of ours said something like that, definitely not someone who was there.”

Oren, who was personally involved in the operation, told a different story.

He said that any “revenge” incident might have occurred after Armored Core Capt. Dmitri Levitas (26) was killed in battle, but that the Breaking the Silence testimony “simply is not true.”

He said despite the fact that he and his fellow soldiers were severely affected by the death of Levitas, “we maintained combat ethics.”

“While it’s true there was heavy [IDF] fire, this fire was directed at positions from which we were being fired upon, or suspicious locations,” he recalled.

IDF tanks only fired “in accordance with procedure, and after a very strict identification process,” he said.

Oren emphasized that despite “losing a great commander and friend … we still abided by shooting procedure.”

He said that field commanders operated according to very accurate and high quality intelligence regarding almost every single home.

Oren said, “They knew where the majority of the tunnels were located and where there were no civilians … Every shell was fired only after going through the proper procedure in which we had been trained long before the Operation.”

He added that, “Before the Operation and also after it, we conveyed to the commanders and we conveyed to the soldiers the importance of precise fire, the importance of identifying the target and not to fire on innocents.”

Oren said that this was not the only instance where his soldiers exercised extreme caution when it came to Palestinian civilian lives. “I can tell you about two instances where we could have fired upon what we suspected was a dispatcher, but we didn’t out of concern for innocent lives.”

Lt. Oren was not the only soldier to speak out, nor was his story unique. Another soldier, who was a battalion commander during Protective Edge and an officer with the rank of Lt. Col., also came forward. He said that before entering Gaza, “we were provided with a large amount of intelligence, and we requested permission after permission, verification after verification.”

The officer said that when he was notified that he and his soldiers would be entering Gaza, “I conveyed to the fighters the importance of precise fire and avoiding harming innocents.” According to him, this is a message that he and many other officers conveyed to their soldiers not just before entry into Gaza, but during ground operations as well.

He said that every round fired received either his approval or that of another responsible officer, and that “every entry we made into an area was done after we told [civilians] to leave the area.”

“Come now, tell me one example in history, one, of an army in the entire world that notified the enemy where it was planning to act or what they are planning to do. This is something entirely irrational,” he said.

Channel 2 said many more soldiers and high ranking officers stepped forward to present a very different story from the one conveyed in the Breaking the Silence report, emphasizing the IDF’s strict adherence to international law — which sometimes goes beyond the requirements of the Law of Armed Conflict – and the caution the army exercised to prevent Palestinian civilian deaths.

Breaking the Silence offered a response to the interviews, saying, “in the book that was published this week, testimonies of dozens of soldiers and officers who served in Protective Edge are presented. We welcome every discussion taking place among the public over the fighting in Gaza and we are proud that the publication of these testimonies encouraged other soldiers to step forward and relate what happened throughout the operation.”

“Among all of the testimonies that have been published in the last few days by those other than us, not a single one of them disproved the central point related to the policy of indiscriminate fire which led to the harm of innocent civilians,” the statement read, even though the Channel 2 testimonies seemed to indicate otherwise.

“Many different soldiers came out with different feelings about the operation, and it is our duty as the public to listen to them, and to ask ourselves if such a policy is acceptable to us, and what our moral limits are as a community,” said Breaking the Silence.

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  • kris kristian

    FIND THE NAMES OF ANY ISRAELI SOLDIER WHO MADE SUCH STATEMENT.
    CHECK HIS BANK ACCOUNT.
    IMPRIISON HIM FOR A MINIMUM OF 10 YEARS WITHOUT ANY POSSIBLITY OF PARLOE.
    IT SEEMS TO ME, THAT THIS WHOLE STORY WAS A LIE SPREAD FROM THE MUSLIMS.
    NO JEWISH SOLDIER, NOR CHRISTIAN SOLDIER IN THE IDF WOULD MAKE UP STORIES LIKE THAT.

  • Lynne T

    “duty to listen to them”?

    No, more like 40+ well paid staffers working for Eurpean NGOs who provide funding under a very specific mandate intended to blacken the name of the IDF and Israel.

    And those same wealthy NGOs all turned Bassem Eid down when he sought funding for his observatory to investigate abuses by Fatah and Hamas that keep Palestinians pretty much under police state conditions where the PA has full control and Gaza. That’s fundamental part of the conflict that for some reason, these NGOs and the media would rather the world didn’t know about.

    • Lauren Goldman

      For visual examples of IAF’s painstaking target identification protocol, click ‘IAF air strikes.’ Before any ordnance is fired, there is constant communication between personnel on the ground, other aircraft in the area, and a central communication center.

      Two examples come to mind. First, there are terrorists launching a rocket toward Israel, the pilot has them on visual, yet he checks to get verification that this vehicle they entered is not a civilian vehicle. When he gets clearance to fire, the vehicle gets into traffic. The strike is aborted. Second, a group of terrorists launch a rocket from a field, the identification protocol is observed and a missile is fired. The pilot has the targets locked-in and the missile is approaching. Then the terrorists run among a group of civilians. At this point the pilot guides the missile into a field to avoid civilian casualties.

  • yehudi

    “Breaking the Silence” should be called Faking the Violence.

  • HaroldT

    The attorney general should order a thorough investigation, and take appropriate action against any defaulters as well as those spreading treasonable lies.

  • GungleGeorge

    Where are the comments?

  • Abu Nudnik

    Defend yourselves and we have the right to kill you! A very common refrain from Gaza to Baltimore.

  • Atilla

    NO Israeli soldier should be killed as a result of trying to minimize civilian casualties fighting these Palestinian vermin.

    War is hell, collateral damage is a fact of life.

  • Everett Benson

    There is a further very serious problem with the Breaking the Silence Report. It was paid for by a Palestinian NGO based in Ramallah, to the tune of US$300,000, according to a report by Im Tirtzu that tracked down the data on funding provided by the NGO itself. See the article “IDF Tattle-Tales Funded by Arab Foundation, Says Report,” which appeared on the Arutz Sheva website last week, and the Im Tirtzu Report itself, “Political Terrorism,” available as a free download PDF, at the Im Tirtzu website.

    BtS is also funded by other Arab sources, the New Israel Fund (NIF which as is well-known funds BDS groups and other far-left anti-Israel NGOs), and various EU countries aid programs. It turns out that several EU countries are attempting to interfere in Israel’s internal affairs to delegitimize its self-defense. None of those countries can provide better figures than Israel in counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency warfare, and they ignore Palestinian human rights violations or rather support Palestinian terrorism by their funding P.A. anti-Israel activities.

  • Everett Benson

    Breaking the Silence is not a reliable observer. Some of the alleged “witnesses” to abuses were far-left IDF soldiers in the pay of Breaking the Silence, who may not even have been present at the so-called abuses to begin with or just made them up. This was found to be the case in regard to a number of BtS accusations at the time of the 2009 Cast Lead Gaza campaign. All of the so-called evidence is hearsay. It is valueless — or worse than that.

    Breaking the Silence has actually tried to thwart IDF investigations of the abuses it alleges, by withholding from IDF investigators information essential to identify when, where and to whom those abuses occurred. The chief investigator of the IDF has even said BtS does not want any abuses corrected, it merely wants to discredit the IDF. So it is worse than useless in actually preventing abuses — it encourages them.

    It is actually a crime to withhold evidence that might help save lives or redress abuses and punish perpetrators; it makes the withholder an accessory to criminal acts. It is also explicitly against the IDF code of conduct. Breaking the Silence is such an accessory, if any of its claims are actually true — which its refusal to cooperate will make very hard to determine.

    The NGO has as its guiding aim to discredit the IDF by any means possible. Israeli self-defense should be rendered immoral, by definition. On the actual agenda of Breaking the Silence, with documentation to support it, see the website maintained by NGO Monitor, and Gerald Steinberg its director.

    Amos Harel, a journalist for the far left Haaretz, wrote back in 2009 that “Breaking the Silence … has a clear political agenda, and can no longer be classed as a ‘human rights organization.’ Any organization whose website includes the claim by members to expose the ‘corruption which permeates the military system’ is not a neutral observer. The organization has a clear agenda: to expose the consequences of IDF troops serving in the west Bank and Gaza. This seems more of interest to its members than seeking justice for specific injustices.”

  • My prayers go to our brave soldiers of the IDF, these great men deserve the Respect and Love of all Israelis and Jews worldwide !
    Their Courage and Honor are above reproach!
    May G_d guide them and protect them as they protect Israel !
    I as an old Jew Love you all, even though we have never met, or at this stage of my life may never will, but know in your heart of hearts you are our Hero’s, our shield and spear against those who would do Israel harm.
    Shalom

  • Richard

    It seams the IDF Soliders did all they could to minimize civilian deaths. They did the best they could under trying conditions.

  • I truly believe that the IDF conducted themselves above and beyond and that they are the only army in the world that does.

  • Dean

    Let’s face it, Leftists are out to destroy Israel, endanger its soldiers and its people. They are aligned to the Islamist terrorists. Leftists in Israel and provocateurs from abroad are enemies of the Jewish people – they spend hundreds of millions to demonize and vilify. I wonder how these same Leftists would react if Hamas were to fire on their homes and communities or enter their houses with intent to kill their families.

  • Peter

    There is a reason the NGO is called breaking the silence.

  • Per Ardua

    The important question is: Who paid them to tell the lie?

  • Robert Twic

    Even the truth won’t change the minds of those willing to believe the worst of the Israeli side-of-the-story.

  • Paul

    We should stop applying our morals to this situation, since our TOO MORAL behaviour traps us in a trap set by HAMAS.
    When the enemy fires rockets across the border, that is an act of war. Targetting our civilians makes this a war crime.
    We should stop trying to surgically distinguish between civilians and troops on the other side: we should simply flatten the regions from which fire has been initiated, in keeping with international law.
    WE are the ones who try to prevent civilian casualties, and are continually accused of war crimes by saying we have not done so well enough.
    We should state clearly that there is NO reason to suspect them of commiting war crimes by firing from civilian sites, nor should we be given the responsibility for this being done. We should just do what every army in the world is entitled to do by law – return fire at the source of their fire. If there are civilians there, THEY should explain why THEY fired from civilian sites.
    To prevent their expected lie that we chose to fire at civilian targets that were NOT sources of fire, it IS necesary to invite foreign war correspondents to accompany our troops at every place there is action, to make it clear we are telling the truth.
    We keep playing the game according to the rules set up by the enemy, who is the REAL side that has no consideration for innocents, and who continually gets us to be blamed for his treacherous behaviour. It is time to change the rules – for the sake of the future innocent Palestinians who will be killed because it suits HAMAS to have Palestinians killed by Israelis.

  • KMan

    Breaking the silence… What silence exactly??? The IDF investigates every bullet shot! Haven’t you had enough with your BS: Line 300, Sabra and Shatila, Jenin, Cast Led, now this? do you want to continue and survive in the midlle east, or you rather move to Alaska? Enough already, in a war like in a war!!!

  • Naftali

    Let’s be clear here. It has been proven that BTS signed a contract with their European funders to uncover “immoral” IDF behaviour, so of course, to get and maintain that funding they have to deliver, even if it’s fall.

    I served in Tzanchanim 40 years ago, and even then we had strict rules and attitudes about firing at civilians.

    BTS is politically motivated to cast Israel in a bad light, and in my opinion act as enemies of Israel

  • Michael Levy

    We all know the ethics of the Israeli army and there is no other army in the world which holds such ethics but then let’s see what ‘ethics’ the Palestinians have by training young children to sings songs about killing Jews and also building tunnels from which to carry out surprise attacks on Israelis (Jews)and to also kidnap them. The Israelis (Jews) at least warn the (enemy) of impending attacks. Anyone who reads anti-Semitic newspapers, which the majority of them are, and believes the lies which they read are either idiots or both idiots and anti-Semites themselves.

  • glenda urmacher

    Iy is unbelievable that Saudia Arabia is bombing the hell out of civilian positions to route out
    enemy terrorists and the world says nothing
    Only Israel has to account for its action in self defense.
    Its about time to level the playing field.

  • nelson marans

    Unfortunately, as always for leading newspapers, anti-Israel accusations receive major coverage and the rebuttal is ignored. Witness the false reports about a massacre when Israeli soldiers entered Jenin and practiced considerable care in searching for the terrorists,resulting in substantial loss of Israeli personnel. The media spent days in reporting the alleged massacre, but when proven false rarely a mention.

  • dante

    the names and photographs of the cretins who slander Israel should be publicized. these enemies should be shunned. and, the sources of funding for the swine behind “breaking the silence” should be publicized. if the funds come from the norwegian embassy or the swiss or the swedish, etc., the responsible embassy personnel should be have the light of full publicity turned upon them. where these activities violate diplomatic protocol, Israel should expel the individuals involved. and, expulsion should also be ordered for “journalists” who are enemy propagandists. that would include the contemptible harridans of afp, bbc, nyt, npr, etc.

  • There will always be those who act to discredit the IDF.

    I am proud of those who serve in the admirable way they do.

    Without the IDF there would be no Israel.

  • Larry

    Sorry, War Is Hell. If we fought WW2 as it is suggested Israel fight their opponents, we would have lost.

  • Lyone

    Someone needs to make a movie called “Breaking the Balls” detailing Hamas’ policies and techniques when fighting wars, and during peace time too (if there ever is such a time for Hamas).

  • Saba

    The NGO story is horrible and those soldiers who participated in those stories should be dismissed from the IDF. This type of propaganda is for the benefit of Israels enemies. It is so demoralizing it reach down to the deepest soul.

  • New israel fund

    New israel fund and Alisa doctoroff and Karen Adler and Jewish communal fund paid for this

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