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    15 July 2009

    Israeli soldiers: ‘Shoot first, question later’

    The Israeli military has rejected outright claims that the assault on Gaza last winter was conducted on a ‘shoot first, ask questions later’ basis.

    Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and UN agencies said the destruction of Gaza and its human cost was unjustified. And some Israeli soldiers, from a group called Breaking the Silence, say they were told to shoot first and to worry about separating fighters and civilians afterwards.

    “At any obstacle, any problem, we opened fire and didn’t ask questions, said a soldier known as Sergeant Amir. “Even if it was firing in the dark, firing at unknown targets, firing at things we couldn’t see, there was no problem.”

    The Israeli military rejected the claims as unsubstantiated, and said they were based on hearsay.

    “Yet another human rights organisation is presenting to Israel and the world a report based on anonymous and general testimony, without fully investigating the details or credibility,” said Israeli Defence Force spokesman Avital Leibovitch.

    Israel’s armed forces are banned from speaking to the media. Even so, the report from Breaking the Silence includes testimony from 30 soldiers who fought in Gaza and who are said to be deeply distressed at the morality of the operation.

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