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Saturday, May 5, 2018

Now I've heard it all: israel's IDF claims most Gazan casualties were ‘accidental’

A “senior officer” told Haaretz reporter ‘Amos Harel that most Gazans killed by the IDF since March 30th were killed accidentally, claiming that IDF snipers were aiming to wound them but that the protesters either bent down just as the sniper was pulling the trigger or were killed by shrapnel from the ground.
This claim directly contradicts IDF’s official statement of 31st March, in which the army claimed that “nothing was carried out uncontrolled, everything was accurate and measured, and we know where every bullet landed.” The IDF later deleted the statement, presumably because of the legal culpability it carries, but a screen capture was taken in time.
IDF statement of March 31, since removed, saying that every bullet’s destination was known to command, in Gaza.
It’s worth noting that this is a usual practice by the IDF Spokesman: making an official claim and then having a “senior officer” giving another version, this time anonymously, so that it cannot be attributed to the IDF – and the army can hold both positions.
A notorious case was that of Jawaher Abu Rahma, who died as a result of inhaling CS teargas in occupied Bil’in in late 2010; the IDF Spokesman had one official position (“we’re investigating”) while senior officers spread malicious rumors anonymously – Major General Avi Mizrahi, for instance, was exposed briefing friendly media and claiming Abu Rahma died of cancer.
The “senior officer’s” claim also takes Israelis on a trip down memory lane: the claim that Palestinians bent down just as they were shot and as a result were killed was common in the 1980s. I cannot recall when the claim was last made by an official with a straight face.
Since March 30th, IDF gunmen have killed 44 Palestinians near the Gaza Defense Parameter, and the number of wounded is near 2,000. The shootings of Palestinians in the legs, maiming them, made the front page of the Washington Post over the weekend.
The Israeli media slowly begins to discuss the question of whether the IDF snipers are using hollow point ammunition, whose legality is questionable. The High Court of Justice will hear today an appeal by several human rights organizations, including ‘Adala, Association for Civil Rights in Israel, and Yesh Din demanding that the IDF stop its policy of shooting unarmed protesters with live ammunition. (Full disclosure: I worked for Yesh Din until about a year ago.)
The government presented its position yesterday, refusing to expose the ROE (rules of engagement) used by the IDF in the Gaza Strip, but claiming the ROE “is consistent with Israeli and international law.” The government further claimed that the ROE are classified, and in case it would have to be discussed, it should be done ex parte.

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