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Israel claims disciplinary action against Gaza officers

Reports from Israel claim that the authorities have disciplined two army officers for their role in last year's "Operation Cast Lead" in Gaza. According to Haaretz newspaper, the news of the disciplinary action was hidden deep in the Israeli government's response to the UN's Goldstone Report. Although not named in the response itself, Israeli media claimed that the two men in question are General Eyal Eisenberg and infantry brigade commander Colonel Ilan Malka; both, it is said, went beyond their normal powers by firing artillery at a UN compound in Gaza. Early reports that the officers were disciplined specifically for firing white phosphorus shells – the use of which is illegal in civilian areas – were denied. The incident took place on January 15 last year in Southern Gaza City.

The Israeli response mentioned investigations into other incidents noted by Goldstone, including the killing of twenty Palestinians in al-Zaytoun neighbourhood east of Gaza by Israeli shells. The Israeli army, meanwhile, alleges that it had to use phosphorous bombs during a clash with a cell of Hamas fighters to create a smokescreen making it difficult for the Palestinians to see the Israeli soldiers.

Criticism by many human rights organizations about the army's use of white phosphorous shells (which cause horrific burns in contact with the skin) was dismissed by the Israeli military which claimed that they were only used on the open battlefield in line with international conventions, not in heavily populated areas. Such denials continued despite the existence of visual evidence to the contrary.

According to Haaretz, Israeli investigation committees are also looking into allegations of around 150 crimes committed during the war on Gaza. Five hundred soldiers have been interviewed as well as close to 100 Palestinian civilians who were questioned at the Erez border checkpoint between Israel and Gaza.

Middle EastNews
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