I don’t know whether this is a case of throwing a piece of meat to howling dogs to get them off your scent or whether this is a meaningful admission by Israel (or both), but I find this story potentially quite important:
An Israel Defense Forces brigadier general and another officer with the rank of colonel endangered human life during last year’s military campaign in the Gaza Strip by firing white phosphorous munitions in the direction of a compound run by UNRWA, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, the Israeli government says.
The finding aknowledges [sic], at least in part, allegations by international organizations. It was contained in a report that the government provided to the United Nations over the weekend in response to last September’s Goldstone Commission report.
Gaza Division Commander Brig. Gen. Eyal Eisenberg and Givati Brigade Commander Col. Ilan Malka, were the subject of disciplinary action by GOC Southern Command Maj. Gen. Yoav Gallant after headquarters staff found that the men exceeded their authority in approving the use of phosphorus shells that endangered human life, the Israeli government report said.
The incident in question occurred on January 15 of last year, two days before the end of Operation Cast Lead, in the southern Gaza City neighborhood of Tel al-Hawa, at a time when the Givati brigade and other Israeli forces were in the area.
…The munitions disperse hundreds of pieces of felt impregnated with phosphorus and at least some of the pieces fell into the UNRWA compound, causing injury to an UNRWA employee there as well as to two Palestinian civilians who took cover at the location.
A few interesting observations: first, Ynetnews adds that hundreds of Gaza civilians were sheltering in the UNWRA compound when it was shelled, which means they all could’ve been burned alive. Second, the facility shelled contained most of the food used to feed Gazans, which also easily could’ve gone up in smoke. Third, endangering human life appears to be the IDF equivalent term for “war crimes,” though you’ll notice that the officers were “reprimanded” for their actions. A reprimand seems quite a lenient judgment for the use of white phosphorus. Fourth, this was the incident which led Israel to pay the UN $10.5 million for damages to the facility. Fifth, nice to see that the IDF acknowledges that Palestinians are “human” life (as in “endangering human life”).
It goes without saying that both the IDF and Israeli government will use this incident to prove that they are policing their own and that IDF internal investigations are sufficient to satisfy the demands of Goldstone. This simply won’t do and the Israelis have got to know this. And it’s in this sense that possibly these two officers are sacrificial lambs thrown to the UN in order to try to save Israel from the worse fate of being hauled before the ICC.
What is interesting about this finding and what must frighten IDF senior command and Israeli politicians is that the admission of “endangering human life” may be a first creeping step toward the admission of war crimes if the uproar over Goldstone doesn’t let up and Israel feels forced to make further concessions/admissions. Given this, it is no accident that Israel’s foremost Doberman Dershowitz has been on the prowl calling Justice Goldstone a “traitor to the Jewish people” and an “evil, evil man.”
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- It’s Official – IDF Finally Admits to Illegal Use of White Phosphorus in Gaza Campaign (themagneszionist.blogspot.com)