For the first time since accusations were reported in the daily Haaretz, alleging immoral behavior by IDF soldiers during Operation Cast Lead, IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-General Gabi Ashkenazi responded, defending the IDF as a “moral army”, adding if there are isolated cases of unacceptable behavior, they will be addressed appropriately. Ashkenazi added “I do not believe soldiers intentionally targeted Palestinian civilians in cold blood” as is being alleged by soldiers affiliated with the Yitzchak Rabin pre-IDF course affiliated with Oranim Academic College. (See earlier report – http://www.theyeshivaworld.com/article.php?p=32093).
The commander made his remarks while visiting the Bakum induction base on Monday morning, speaking with new inductees of the combat engineering corps. Regarding Gaza and the accusations, he promised a thorough investigation, adding “the IDF is the most moral army in the world, maintaining an extremely high standard. We must remember the area in which we operated, a civilian are turned into a battlefield by Hamas. Public facilities and warehouses converted to weapons storage areas by Hamas.”
The IDF’s commander stressed everything possible was done to minimize injury to innocent civilians. He stated his years in the military and what he saw firsthand during the Gaza operation bear witness to the standard upheld by fighting forces in Gaza.
Ashkenazi declined comment regarding a possible prisoner exchange, but stated he does believe Gilad Shalit’s commanders must work towards obtaining his release. “Efforts towards his release continue at present and I do not wish to say more than this. Gilad is still in captivity”. (Yechiel Spira – YWN Israel)