MKs read testimonies by soldiers about the lengths to which the military goes to avoid civilian casualties during their weekly one-minute speeches on Tuesday.
The initiative of MK Yoav Kisch (Likud), an IAF pilot, was a response to the UN’s report on Operation Protective Edge, which claimed that the IDF may have committed war crimes. Kisch collected testimonies from members of the NGO “My Truth,” which seeks to defend IDF soldiers’ image around the world.
Kisch recounted that, as a pilot, he made sure there were no civilians in every target before setting off to bomb it, and there were several times in which he turned around and did not drop a bomb because there was a suspicion that there were civilians at the target.
MK Eitan Cabel (Zionist Union), who still does reserve duty as an infantry soldier, also spoke of his experiences: “I never received or heard an order meant to harm civilians. We often received orders that put our lives in danger, in order to prevent harming civilians.”
“The IDF followed all the rules to clear areas of civilians, but Hamas cynically forced some to stay,” MK Dani Atar (Zionist Union) said, reading the testimony of a Golani soldier. “[Palestinians] were killed by explosives they didn’t know were there that Hamas planted.”
“We lost our element of surprise, the best of our sons, to make sure we wouldn’t kill civilians that the enemy used as human shields,” he added.
MK Oren Hazan (Likud) read the testimony of a soldier named Shahar Ilanberg, who said that he saw children in an area that had been cleared of civilians for a week and a half. When he told them to leave, they said they were looking for food, and he and other soldiers gave them food.
Later, the soldiers found that they had miscalculated and they did not have enough food for themselves.
When they asked if they could make some pasta from one of the Gazan homes, their officer told them no, “that is looting, and we are not an army that loots.”
MK Merav Ben-Ari (Kulanu) read a testimony by Dror Dagan, who was injured while arresting a terrorist, and listened from the visitors’ gallery, sitting in his wheelchair.
“When we burst into the house and quickly scanned the rooms, the wife of the terrorist, a senior Hamas member, fainted. As a medic, I did not hesitate and started taking care of her,” Dagan wrote. “Not two minutes passed and it turned out that it was a trap. It was all pretend, a trick to gain time so the suspect could get organized.”
“I was injured, because I was taught the values of the IDF, to take care of anyone who is injured, even if it is the wife of a terrorist,” Dagan added.
MK David Bitan (Likud) read the testimony of a soldier who brought food to Gazans to break their Ramadan fast. When journalists tried to take photographs, Hamas forced them to put their cameras away.
“As a medic, I have to treat all people, even terrorists,” MK Yinon Magal (Bayit Yehudi) read from Gal Shmul’s testimony from his IDF service not during Protective Edge. “I took care of a Syrian rebel who was missing a hand. I saved his life. Once he was better, he said, he’ll be back to conquer Jerusalem.”
In his own words, Magal said: “One day the world will apologize to us... Look at any other country dealing with terrorism – the US, UK, anyone – and try to find an army that is more moral than the IDF. There isn’t one.”
Other lawmakers who participated were MKs Nava Boker, Nurit Koren and Miki Zohar of the Likud, Ayelet Nahmias-Verbin and Revital Swid of the Zionist Union, Yaakov Peri and Haim Jelin of Yesh Atid, Sharon Gal (Yisrael Beytenu), Yoav Ben- Tzur (Shas) and Uri Maklev (UTJ).
“A year since the end of Operation Protective Edge is the right time for the world to know and hear the true stories of fighters that were never told before. There is no army in the world that is more careful about its morality and purity of arms like the IDF,” Kisch said.
My Truth said that it’s glad MKs joined the efforts of “fighters from across the political spectrum, Right and Left, who fought in the battlefield in the spirit of the IDF and its ethical and moral code, who will not let extremist organizations like Breaking the Silence slander our names and present a false story in Israel and around the world, in which the IDF and its soldiers are the worst offenders.”