[url=http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5ioi_0jtO9RjMwPNRoXNCnd...Israel to probe reported abuse by soldiers in Gaza[/url]
JERUSALEM (AP) — Israel's military on Thursday ordered a criminal inquiry into its own soldiers' reports that some troops killed Palestinian civilians, including children, during the Gaza war by hastily opening fire, confident that relaxed rules of engagement would protect them.
Their accounts, published in a military institute's newsletter, echo Palestinian allegations and feed into human rights groups' contention that Israel violated the laws of war. Soldiers also reported the wanton destruction of civilian property.
The troops spoke at a get-together with students enrolled in a military preparatory course. The transcript of the session appeared this week in a newsletter the institute publishes, Israeli newspapers reported.
The head of the course, Danny Zamir, told the Haaretz daily he was "shocked" and relayed the reports to Israeli military chief Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi because he feared serious ethical lapses among troops.
The military said it was not aware of the reported incidents but that its top lawyer has ordered military police to investigate.
In one published account reported by Haaretz and the Maariv newspaper, an Israeli sniper killed a Palestinian woman and her two children after they misunderstood another soldier's order and turned the wrong way. The sniper was not told the civilians had been released from the house where they were confined and, in compliance with standing orders, opened fire when they approached him.
In another account given at the military institute, an elderly woman was shot dead while walking on a road, even though she was close enough for the soldiers to see whether she posed a threat, Maariv said. Haaretz said the woman was shot from 100 yards away.
Soldiers quoted in the transcript also reported wholesale destruction of Palestinian property.
"We would throw everything out of the windows to make room and order," Maariv quoted a soldier as saying. "Everything in the house was tossed out the windows: Refrigerators, plates, furniture. The order was to throw all of the house's contents outside."
Troops felt they could write "Death to the Arabs" on the walls of private homes and spit on family pictures "just because you can," another soldier said.
"I think this is the main thing: To understand how much the army's ethics have sunk, really. It's what I'll remember most," Haaretz quoted him as saying.
Wow. From the soldiers themselves.
I'm impressed, and I hope they keep up the honesty despite the pressure to keep quiet they are no doubt about to get, in the form of an 'investigation'.