Military Police investigation on Rabin Center statements: Based on hearsay

Here is the official statement of the IDF concerning the allegation of Human rights violation during the Gaza operation.

Military Police investigation on Rabin Center statements: Based on hearsay

(Communicated by the IDF Spokesperson)

The Military Advocate General, Brig. Gen. Avichai Mendelblit, decided  to close the Criminal Investigation Department of the Military Police case of the statements made by soldiers at the Rabin Military Preparation Center about Operation Cast Lead.

This decision was made after the Military Police investigation found that the crucial components of their descriptions were based on hearsay and not supported by specific personal knowledge. In particular, this includes the two alleged stories that raised suspicion of acts in which uninvolved non-combatants were fired upon. Additionally, it was found that once the claims were checked, they were not supported by the facts as determined by the investigation.

The investigation was initiated by the Military Advocate General after reviewing claims made during a conference at the Rabin Military Preparation Center in which soldiers who participated in Operation Cast Lead were present. The Criminal Investigation Department of the Military Police was ordered to investigate the claims made, with an emphasis on the alleged firing at uninvolved non-combatants. The investigation concluded from the soldiers who participated in the conference that the stories told were purposely exaggerated and made extreme, in order to make a point with the participants of the conference. For example, the story in which a soldier was claimed to have been given orders to fire at an elderly woman was clarified during the investigation. In fact, the soldier witnessed no such thing, and was only repeating a rumor he had heard.

In an unrelated investigation, it was found that in a similar incident, a woman, suspected as being a suicide bomber, approached an IDF force, which opened fired towards her after repeatedly trying to stop her from advancing. This same soldier admitted that he had not witnessed the additional disrespectful and immoral incidents he had described during the conference.

A claim made by a different soldier who had supposedly been ordered to open fire at a woman and two children was also clarified as an incident that he had not witnessed. After checking the claim, it was found that during this incident a force had opened fire in a different direction, towards two suspicious men who were unrelated to the civilians in question.

During the Military Police investigation, two additional claims arose regarding improper conduct. These claims were separate from those made at the Rabin Military Preparation Center. It was found that these incidents do not raise suspicion of unjustified opening of fire. This finding is based on a debriefing which had occurred close to the time of one of the incidents and upon further investigation conducted by the Military Police.

It must be stated that during these investigations, the participants at the Rabin Center said that they had based their claims relating to the use of phosphorous munitions on what they had heard in the media and not on their personal knowledge.

The Military Advocate General, Brig. Gen. Avichai Mendelblit, concluded the findings of the Military Police investigation: “It is unfortunate that none of the speakers at the conference was careful to be accurate in the depiction of his claims, and even more so that they chose to present various incidents of a severe nature, despite not personally witnessing and knowing much about them. It seems that it will be difficult to evaluate the damage done to the image and morals of the IDF and its soldiers, who had participated in Operation Cast Lead, in Israel and the world.”

The IDF Spokesperson Unit wishes to stress that the Military Advocate General’s conclusions refer solely to the investigations that focused on the transcripts of the Rabin Military Preparation Center conference, in addition to the two separate aforementioned claims. This investigation is additional and not a substitute for the investigations conducted on all levels of the IDF, following Operation Cast Lead.

February 1st, 2009 – good morning qassams

Again the booms.

This morning I was just finishing off my morning exercises and thinking about the next step in my daily routine, when first one Boom and then another. The dog next door, Laila, began to bark which is always an indication that something has landed very close by. (It used to be peacocks shrieking, but now Laila is the best alert I’ve got).

My daughter slept through it. I quickly dressed and called for information. Soon enough I learned that the qassams had landed between two of our Children’s Houses. These buildings are extremely close to my house, which was rather unsettling. Post-Trauma, anyone?

Neither of them exploded, apparently, which is why the booms weren’t deafening. But another one exploded on a neighbouring kibbutz.

The news says this: http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1060562.html

Gaza militants fire barrage of rockets, mortar shells at Negev

 

By Yuval Azoulay, Haaretz Correspondents, Haaretz Service and The Associated Press

 


Palestinian militants fired at least four Qassam rockets and four mortar shells from the Gaza Strip into the western Negev on Sunday, with one rocket landing in between two kindergartens.
Three rockets struck the Eshkol region, two of them landing in open fields and the third close to the kindergartens. A fourth rocket struck an open field in the Sdot Negev Regional Council area. No casualties or damage were reported in any of the strikes.
Four mortar shells struck the Eshkol region of the western Negev later on Sunday. No injuries or damages were caused.
Later on Sunday morning, Israel Defense Forces soldiers exchanged fire with militants near the Kissufim crossing on the border with the Gaza Strip. No casualties were reported in the incident. 

Post-Trauma

Just when we were getting used to a qassam here, a grad missile there, trying to digest the daily fears of where and when, the close-to-home hit truly hits below the belt. There’s a vast reservoir of anxiety that we’ve all just pretended to leave behind. An incident such as today shows that just below the surface, it’s all there. Nothing’s calm, nothing’s assured.

The Operation Cast Lead era is behind us with its beginning and end, and now we’re back to where we were – the unknowing, the state of being unprotected.

The qassams landed between a kindergarten and a Children’s House. The hour was perfectly attuned to when parents walk their children to their daycare.

I don’t want to continue with this description mostly because I have nothing to add. Miraculously, no one was hurt. There were many who were there at that time.

I turned on the T.V. to see Rafi Reshef’s news programme and saw one of our kibbutz members, Avner Goren, being interviewed. He related how he’d just passed the spot where the qassam landed, he and his daughter were on their way to Kindergarten. He told the reporter how he’d had his doubts whether or not the military operation would have much effect on our daily life, and now those doubts were confirmed. Nothing was new. The kindergarten, though fully reinforced, could hardly provide protection to those enroute.

Quiet pastoral February has opened with nerves and needs for de-stressing.

Fields of Nir-Oz, looking towards Aza

Fields of Nir-Oz, looking towards Aza

 

Jan 17th…ceasefire or no ceasefire? till the decision

Noisy morning

We’ve been hearing some booms and constant planes (surveillance, mostly, I imagine) and I keep turning to the online newspapers to see what’s going on.

This morning we are hours before the Cabinet meeting to discuss the ceasefire agreement.

Check out Ynet:  (headline here)

Ahead of truce: Gaza op continues in full force

 

Less than 24 hours before cabinet meets to decide whether to accept ceasefire draft, IDF continues to strike in Strip. Dozens of Palestinians killed Friday, some of them civilians. Commanders, soldiers not ordered to slow down activity

Hanan Greenberg

Published:  01.17.09, 08:16 / Israel News

_____________________________________________________________________

Check out Ha’aretz:  (marqee update first)

08:32 Color Red rocket alert sounds in Ofakim (Haaretz)

Last update – 06:41 17/01/2009
Cabinet to vote Saturday on unilateral Gaza truce
By Barak Ravid, Haaretz Correspondent, and The Associated Press
Tags: Gaza, Israel News, Hamas, IDF

 

 

 

 

The cabinet will hold a vote on Saturday evening to decide whether to enact a unilateral cease-fire with Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

 
 

The deal would also call for cooperation between Israel and Egypt on matters relating to the Gaza Strip in which they have shared interests, without the interference of Hamas.

The decision would mean Israel has put an end to the three-week-long Operation Cast Lead without an agreement with Hamas, relying instead on the support of the United States and Egypt in battling arms smuggling into Gaza.

A government source emphasized that there has been great progress with Egypt in reaching an agreement on fighting arms smuggling. The deal would require the combined use of technological measures on the border between Gaza and Egypt, operations against smugglers in the southern Gaza town of Rafah and the use of international experts to identify smuggling tunnels on the border.

On the ground on Kibbutz Nir-Oz

We’re listening to neighbours sweep away pecan leaves as other neighbours crunch among the leaves searching  for fallen nuts, the usual early Saturday morning sounds. Life goes on as usual.

pecans on tree

January 15th – Ma’ale Habsor

I was awakened by booms and I could hardly open my right eye.

Tidings of things to come? No, who believes in ‘tidings’. I lay in bed for a while, letting tears flow, letting my eye clean itself, while I waited for the booms to identify themselves. Truth is that I’m not very good at sensing the sorts of booms we have. There are booms from our cannons, booms from qassams hitting the ground, booms from explosions of underground tunnels, mortar fire booms and sound-barrier explosive booms. There are sounds of rapid-fire gun shots and tank fire.  

On top of that, there are planes and helicopters and drones. 

So, this morning I woke up from unspecified booms and hoped that if my right eye would offer vision, I’d be able to read something from the morning paper about what was happening where.

Only now, this afternoon, after having returned home from teaching an English tutorial at Ma’ale Habsor, do I see what’s going on in Gaza City. On our walk we could see the landscape and the smoke.

This Operation has not yet ended.

I’ll talk about school. 

Out of 9 students expected to show up to study in a shelter, 5 arrived and 2 were otherwise engaged. Two remained unaccounted for. I think that those numbers are surprisingly good. Who knew that we’d be able to attract kids! We expected them  to give up sitting inside by themselves to venture to the forbidden school zone. And they did!

And they studied and were glad to be together.  I was glad to see them. Walking home, I saw two students on the school side of the fence. We were talking about what I would do if there were to be a “Tzeva Adom” while walking, when suddenly there was. I crashed to the dirt road and covered my head – they ran to the nearest shelter. After 15 seconds, there was no boom, and it wasn’t clear if I should get up and go on my way, or stay down. I waited another 15 seconds or so and then I got up. They came back to see if I’d heard the boom. There had been none.

Later on, we discovered that the qassam had fallen on Tze’elim, a location that usually is safe from qassams. One of those two students was from Kibbutz Tze’elim. I wonder how he’s taking things.

School Construction

School, Jan 15th

School, Jan 15th

The school buildings are looking promising. Last week at this time, a qassam had fallen 5 meters or so from the construction workers, but today they were back on the job.

We’re going to be resuming studies next week. 

Word is beginning to be passed around that we’ll be studying in shifts. This should be interesting.

May the day be safe. If you can reach shelter, do so.

Judih

Jan. 13th, Kibbutz Nir Oz

In Otef Aza, we’re trying to begin the process of easing into a regular schedule.

Teachers at Ma’ale Habsor are meeting today to prepare for welcoming back our students. That exact date is to be decided. What will we be told in a three-hour session?  I know what I’m expecting to hear: to legitimize all feelings, to listen to those who need to talk, to look for signs of anxiety beyond the anxiety that is considered normal for these times. I’ll see what 3 hours brings.

My children are on the kibbutz again which is a great relief to me. All these relief packages to various locations left me wondering how they were, and now that they’re back, they don’t ‘feel’ like talking about what they did. The important thing is that they’re fine, still filled with humour and usual appetites and still fly to the computer to check in with their itunes and friends.

The noises at night are less in terms of quantity. The booms are larger in terms of volume. My dreams continue to accompany the sounds with images of travel, music and super-powers. (Boom. As I write this.)

One note: Back in the old country, January 13th was celebrated by those who followed the philosophy of George Ivanovich Gurdjieff. Happy Birthday, Mr. G.

George Ivanovich Gurdjieff

George Ivanovich Gurdjieff

And to everyone reading this, how are you today?

Judih, Jan 13/09, 6:43 a.m.

Jan 12, Kibbutz Nir Oz, 1st update of the day

Quiet – absolute peace. Then. Boom. Echo. Boom. Helicopters. Boom. Morning has arrived.

In the old days when I’d lazily read my Michigan friend’s blog about Cosmo and the inanities of her dog and make-up, I’d never have let a little boom stop me. Now, who can read about the Golden Globes awards and the attire of the folk when there are floor shaking booms going on. (Even though I really tried)

You see, this is my sense of humour these days. Sad. I’m a squeezed out orange hoping to find a drop of juice.

What’s new?

The ‘Neurim’ (kids from ages 13-18 ) are back home from their various excursions away from the booms. They chose to sleep together in one of the reinforced Children’s Houses. Being together makes this time a little more palatable. They can jump at each sound and laugh at each other’s nervousness. Together they can phone their various friends on various kibbutzim to find out how their booms are going. Anything to relieve the tension.

My son’s back from his satellite location. He arrived before 7 and is about to experience home sweet home. Boom.

Today there are new sounds. We have total surround sound from the air and ground. Machine gun fire (excuse me, but I don’t know the kind of weapon)  I might need some more coffee.

There will be news today and I’ll come back and post. Meanwhile, have a good day.

Judih, Jan 12, 7:08 a.m.

January 11/09 – Kibbutz Nir-Oz – 1st update

The night was loud.

Windows rattled, walls shook. My daughter appeared home at 1:00 a.m. after having taken the first train from Nahariya down to Be’er Sheva and then being driven home to the kibbutz as there are no buses at that hour.

Daughter asleep

She’s piled under blankets on our living room couch and still blissfully sleeping, heedless of the noise outside. But I was awakened many times last night by the noises going on outside. We don’t know exactly what we’re hearing but we remember that the Army stated they were going to escalate the operation, so my imagination is working overtime.

What can I say?

I’m shaking at the thought of what the Palestinians are going through. Yes, they ‘voted’ in the Hamas. Yes, the Hamas doesn’t recognize Israel’s right to exist. Yes, they have sworn to obliterate us. Yes, they’ve been throwing rockets on our schools, our children, our civilians for the past 7 years. Yes, diplomatic intervention hasn’t made a dent in their policy of hurling qassams at civilians. Yes. But, but, but!

How much more trauma must we all endure till we can sit down and discuss peaceful co-existence? That’s the question that screams through my brain.

Down here in the South, we speak of resumption of kindergartens, of school, of normal living within protected buildings. We hope to return to work, to earn our living, to spend our earnings. Yes, we will study and teach and work and laugh, of course. But!

The almighty But! hovers over all. Will this operation secure peace? Will our neighbours be able to re-group and re-build and overcome the heavy tolls of body and mind? Will we? How many of us are suffering and will continue to suffer long after this operation ceases? How many of us are now re-living traumas suffered from the original shock of qassams, mortar fire and/or suicide bombers. Re-living trauma exacerbates original trauma, as is commonly accepted. Will we emerge from this able to build a peaceful middle east?

This is my question, a huge question.

Judih, Jan 11/09

Jan 7th update, Kibbutz Nir-Oz + update (x2)

Another fairly quiet night in Nir-Oz.

This morning there’s word that 4 qassams have been fired into Ashdod and the Eshkol area, but we’ve had no Tzeva Adom here, so I guess it’s safe to say that it’s still quiet in this immediate area.

There’s talk that school will soon resume.

This is both good and bad. Good because, well, it’s good that the year won’t be a total write-off, and that we can show how flexible we all are by adapting once more to classrooms and bells and horrendous tests and book reports. It’s bad because I was just getting used to the artist’s life. Waking up, drinking coffee, showering, exercising then reading, writing and heading into a sunny room to play with contact cement, foam rubber, scissors and paint. I’ve made a lot of progress on my therapy puppet faces.

Now, hopefully, I’ll still have time to actually engage in some needed therapy before I have to be a pillar of strength and calm to students. By the way, though I haven’t been to the school grounds since the operation began, our Ma’ale Habsor Principal, Vered Tal, has assured us that building is continuing. I know this because the workers come to Nir-Oz to eat lunch and haven’t missed a meal this whole time.

Latest puppet photo (still mid-process)

2 puppets mid-process

2 puppets mid-process

My son says they’re scary. He says all my puppets are scary. I feel that  ‘scary’ is good when it comes to therapy. A mask that depicts strength allows the inner voice of the puppeteer to speak in whatever tone or manner is required. You should try it sometime.

Kids on the Road

Again my children are going back on the road after a brief stay on the Kibbutz. My son and his friends slept in the protected Beit Yeladim (Children’s House), while my daughter decided to spend the night on our living room couch.

Today they’re headed in two separate directions. My son will be on Kibbutz Revivim (“it’s like a Country Club,” he’s pointed out), and others might know it as Golda Meir’s kibbutz,  and my daughter will be travelling with a few Nir-Oz kids up to Ein HaMifratz, known for its cardboard factory and once in the heart of the most polluted part of the country. Hopefully, those numbers have veered downward since the peak in the 80’s. (If anyone from Ein HaMifratz is reading, could you set me straight?)

I’ll be back. How are you doing wherever you are?

Judih, 9:50 a.m.

Update: 13:32

We’re now in a 3-hour ceasefire. This halt in the ‘Operation’ is to allow for free passage of supplies into Aza. Ha’aretz puts it this way. And Ynet says this.

We’re going to take a walk around the area in about half an hour. Looks like there’s a good chance for a quiet, pastoral trek. Let’s see what the rest of the day brings.

Second Update: 18:41

We heard a boom, we heard the planes. It was 3 minutes past 4 p.m. and the war was back on. I expected it but my heart sank.

We lived those few hours of blissful quiet and that was enough to stimulate unrestrained optimism. Hope begat hope. Peace? Could there be fast talks of peace? Could it be that things will turn from nightmare to negotiation?

If you’re reading the newspapers, then you know that negotiations, though taking place, are far from being successful.

Let’s see what the evening brings.

May you be safe

Judih

Nir-Oz, January 6th, Operation Cast Lead

Noisy, noisy night

The Air Force was busy last night, and all this morning. The sound  of constant thuds and booms. We’ve had one Tzeva Adom this morning, a few booms about a minute later,  and I’m not sure what else I’ve been hearing on this side of the Strip.

Our kids are returning this evening from their various locations. They’ve been offered another trip to a more northerly kibbutz, but mychildren are utterly tired of being away from home. If we’re here, they want to be as well.

It’s definitely time to start some kind of learning program here on the kibbutz. How else will things ever start to come back to regular living?

The Ma’ale Habsor Principals are setting up an online learning system, where each teacher will be able to direct students and supervise assignments. Teachers will have at their disposal a site with a forum for discussions.

This puts the onus on me to snap into educational frame of mind and set up worksites with some Hebrew instructions for easier accessibility. I’d already set up something but through the initial stages of building and re-building, that work has been lost.

Meanwhile, the noise outside continues. Today’s news is not great. Soldiers have been wounded due to ‘friendly fire’ from a tank which misfired and hit a structure where soldiers were meeting.

On the sweet side of life, the aloe is growing, and the weather is absolutely gorgeous. What a strange time this is.

aloe vera, january 6/09

aloe vera, january 6/09

Will check in later,

Judih, 9:59 a.m., January 6

Kibbutz Nir-Oz, Otef Aza, 1st update of the day, Jan 5/08

Good morning, January 5th

The morning arrived – 3:30 a.m. with a huge boom.  My partner assured me that everything was okay. Still thinking of the previous night when I was prepared for a sudden warning to head down to the shelters, I had to shake myself back into calm. I took a walk, looked at the time, and buried myself under the blanket.

Everything’s alright. A phone call at 5:30. No one was there. Everything’s fine. Mymind rolls over all the possible phone callers, as I dial the code to discover the caller’s number. Nothing but the number ‘9’ a code for who knows what? Recently our kibbutz switchboard (or however it’s called these days) is a little bizarre.

So, it’s now 9:20 a.m. and I’ve checked out 5 TV stations for news. I’ve looked at 2 newspapers and read a few blogs.

What’s new?

Everyone’s asking how long Operation Cast Lead will continue. What will be the next phase? When will life get back to normal here in the south. When will schools resume. When will businesses get back to work. When will we be given the all-clear from the Army to start our life.

Will our life re-start before a viable peace agreement has been reached? Will there be such an agreement?

We, kibbutzniks, moshavniks, city dwellers all believe that of course, there’ll be some form of written agreement so that we’ll be able to continue to live, breathe, raise our children and our crops all to the tune of regular life sounds.

Therapy

What are you doing in the meantime? One friend is cleaning the house, working on her garden, doing the long-form of her DVD Pilates. Another friend is accomplishing tons of work. Two others are in the city, looking after others, taking care of their children.

As for me, I believe in therapy. I believe in puppet therapy,and always have. So, I’m working on my puppets, investing more time than usual on rounding the foam rubber corners, smoothing out the scissor sculptures. I listen to music, whether country-rock, jazz or Roderigo guitar. I try to ignore the TV, but sometimes I’m swept into a TV movie. More therapy, of course.

On Thursday, I’ll be heading out to the Trauma Seminar in Kibbutz Sheffayim, hosted by NATAL,the Israeli organization for Trauma Rehabilitation for Victims of Terror and War. I’ll be attending lectures and a workshop devoted to my favourite form of expressive therapy, Psychodrama. I’ll be happily partaking in any trauma rehabilitation methods offered. I’m ripe for rehab!

The day is sunny, quite beautiful. Booms have been limited. I’ll be back.

Here’s a map of the area. Nir-Oz is just to the right of the label “Gaza Strip” :

Otef Aza - focus on Nir-Oz & neighbours

Otef Aza - focus on Nir-Oz & neighbours

mushroom cloud over in Aza

mushroom cloud over in Aza