'IDF risked civilians to save soldiers'

Officer reportedly says IDF changed policy to minimize its casualties in Gaza.

February 3, 2010 11:24
2 minute read.
Explosion from IDF artillery fire in Gaza during C

Explosion from IDF artillery fire in Gaza during Cast Lead. . (photo credit: AP)


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The IDF risked the lives of Palestinian civilians in order to minimize the risk posed to its soldiers during Operation Cast Lead, the Independent quoted "a high-ranking" IDF officer as saying in a report published Wednesday.

The officer, who reportedly served as a commander during the war in Gaza, acknowledged that following the heavy casualties in the Second Lebanon War, the IDF went beyond its previous rules of engagement on the protection of civilian lives in order to minimize military casualties.

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He reportedly said that he "did not regard the longstanding principle of military conduct known as 'means and intentions' – whereby a targeted suspect must have a weapon and show signs of intending to use it before being fired upon – as being applicable before calling in fire from drones and helicopters."

The Independent claimed that the officer described the IDF rules of engagement to a Yediot Ahronot reporter, but that the paper chose not to publish the article although it was ready five months ago.

When IDF soldiers operated in areas that were supposedly cleared of civilians, "whoever is left in the neighborhood and wants to action an IED [improvised explosive device] against the soldiers doesn't have to walk with a Kalashnikov or a weapon," the officer reporteldy told Yediot. "A person like that can walk around like any other civilian; he sees the IDF forces, calls someone who would operate the terrible death explosive and five of our soldiers explode in the air. We could not wait until this IED is activated against us."

A more junior officer, who reportedly served at a brigade headquarters during the operation, described the new IDF policy as one of "literally zero risk to the soldiers".

Another IDF soldier told the Independent that the army's conduct in Gaza, particularly by aerial forces and in areas where civilians had been urged to leave by leaflets, had "taken the targeted killing idea and turned it on its head."

Instead of using intelligence to identify a terrorist, "first you take him down, then you look into it," he was quoted as saying.

According to the Independent, the IDF declined to comment on the claims and directed all inquiries to already-published material, including a July 2009 Foreign Ministry document 'The Operation in Gaza: Factual and Legal Aspects.'

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