Thursday, April 2, 2009

Opinion: Israel's Most Moral Army - Rachel Shabi

The Guardian, April 1, 2009 - You could all but hear the leftwing jaws thudding to the ground. Shortly after opening an investigation of war crimes in Gaza, the Israeli military police has just snapped it shut.

Those soldiers who described unlawful practices in the Palestinian strip were just relaying "hearsay" and rumours, was the swift conclusion. And just as fast came the stunned reaction from those who wondered if the investigation was, well, just a bit too swift. Amos Harel of Ha'aretz newspaper pointed out that it took just 11 days, including two non-work days. Israeli human rights groups deemed it suspicious and called for an independent investigation. Others pointed out that the review focused only on the veracity of soldier testimonials – without examining copious evidence from other quarters.

Now, some Israelis are questioning the purpose of the inquiry. "It doesn't seem like they were trying to find out the truth, but more that it's an attempt to silence the debate," says Yehuda Shaul of Breaking the Silence, a group of army veterans that collates the experiences of soldiers who serve in the occupied West Bank. The fact that the military police knew about those soldier testimonials but did not activate an inquiry until there was a public furore over them seems to back Shaul's observation....

See also:

Either troops are liars or the IDF is pure as the driven snow, Haaretz, March 31, 2009 - One would be hard-pressed not to express astonishment at the speed and efficiency demonstrated by the Military Advocate General, Brigadier-General Avichai Mendelblit, and the Military Police investigation unit in probing the "combat soldiers' testimonials affair" that took place at the Rabin pre-military training academy. The investigation into Moshe (Chico) Tamir's all-terrain vehicle accident made its way from desk-drawer to desk-drawer over the course of almost 18 months, yet the military advocate general needed just 11 days (including two Saturdays) to probe the accounts of combat soldiers in order to completely dispel the allegations.

There is something soothing in the exhaustive investigation by the military advocate general. The IDF emerges from it (and from the Gaza Strip) as pure as snow. Yet at the same time there is a disconcerting message emanating from the closure of the investigation, one which, at least according to Brig. Gen. Mendelblit, a group of combat soldiers and officers serving in some of the finest units in the IDF has proven to be nothing but a bunch of liars and exaggerating storytellers, men who have not uttered one truthful word....

Barak welcomes IDF decision to end Gaza probe, Haaretz, March 31, 2009 -....In a press release issued Monday, the army said that Brig. Gen. Avichai Mendelblit instructed the Military Police Investigation unit to close the case after a preliminary investigation into the testimonies revealed that they "were based on hearsay and not first-hand experience."

"There is no other army in the world that is as introspective as the IDF, that scrutinizes its conduct in such a genuine and serious way after an operation," Barak continued. "I'm happy these as the results [of the investigation], and that once again our claim that the IDF is the most moral army in the world ? top commanders and low-ranking soldiers alike ? has proved truthful." [verbatim from original post - Ed.]

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