Breaking the Silence, a group of former Israeli soldiers, has published a 237-page report with testimonies describing the assault on Gaza last summer, a shocking account that exposes the deliberate killing of innocent civilians. The release of this report is news everywhere—in Israel, Europe and the United States—but it received a cold shoulder in The New York Times.
The Guardian published three pieces on the report: a news story, excerpts from the report and a videotaped testimony. The Israeli magazine 972 ran two stories (here and here), and articles appeared in the BBC, The Washington Post, Al Jazeera, Newsweek, Agence France Presse, The Jerusalem Post, The Independent and beyond.
The Times, however, has virtually ignored this bombshell [see note below on news of an AP story], which presents the firsthand accounts of more than 60 Israelis who served in the army, air force and navy with ranks up to the level of major. They spoke of their experiences in the assault, which left some 2,200 Gaza residents dead, the vast majority civilians. Seventy-one Israelis, died, including 66 soldiers.
The headlines of many media stories about the report strike a harsh tone: “Israeli soldiers admit Gaza war atrocities” (Al Jazeera), “Samples of Israeli Horrific Brutality and War Criminality in Gaza” (The Intercept), “Israel Did ‘Massive and Unprecedented Harm’ to Civilians in Gaza, Report Says” (Newsweek), “Gunning for destruction in Gaza: ‘You want to see people in pieces’” (972).
The report is titled “This is How We Fought in Gaza: Soldiers’ testimonies and photographs from ‘Operation Protective Edge’ (2014)” and provides transcripts of 111 testimonies from more than 60 “mandatory and reserve” troops on the ground, at headquarters and in command centers. About a quarter of the testifiers were officers, and Breaking the Silence maintains that all accounts were subjected to “a meticulous investigative process.”
Soldiers reported that they were ordered to shoot anyone who appeared in certain areas, whether the person posed a threat or not. “Anything you see in the neighborhoods you’re in,” a commander told an armored corps staff sergeant, “is dead on the spot. No authorization needed.”
They told of the shooting of civilians who posed no threats, such as an elderly man who had been wounded and was lying on the ground. An infantry staff sergeant reported that he watched while “some guy from the company went out and shot that man again,” leaving him dead in the street.
“The most disturbing picture that arises from these testimonies,” Breaking the Silence states, “reflects systematic policies that were dictated to IDF forces of all ranks and in all zones.”
During the operation, Israeli officials insisted that the armed forces took pains to avoid civilian casualties, but the testimonies expose these claims as pure spin. As the report declares: They “close the yawning gaps between what IDF and government spokespersons told the public about the combat scenarios and the reality described by the soldiers.”
Media outlets around the world recognized the importance of this meticulous report, with its disturbing detail told by the men and women who carried out the attacks on Gaza. Times editors undoubtedly realized the significance of this news as well; yet they have deliberately chosen to turn their backs on the story, preferring loyalty to Israel over responsibility to the public.
[A reader informs me that the NYT ran an online AP story about the report. (It never appears in print.) I searched frequently and never found either AP or Reuters articles, so it was intentionally hidden from readers. In other words, it was censored. Here’s the link to the short and biased AP piece, which the Times chose to run in some hidden corner of its website: http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2015/05/04/world/middleeast/ap-ml-israel-palestinians-.html?_r=1 ]