This post was edited by dostoevskydr at 2018-5-30 15:03|
Write down: I, Uri Avnery, soldier number 44410 of the Israel army, hereby dissociate myself from the army sharpshooters who murder unarmed demonstrators along the Gaza Strip, and from their commanders, who give them the orders, up to the commander in chief.
We don’t belong to the same army, or to the same state. We hardly belong to the same human race. Is my government committing ‘war crimes’ along the border of the Gaza Strip?
I don’t know. I am not a jurist.
It seems that officials of the International Criminal Court believe that the acts of our soldiers do constitute war crimes. They demand an international investigation.
To prevent that, our army command proposes an Israeli military investigation. That is manifestly ridiculous – an army investigating itself about acts committed on direct orders of the Chief of Staff.
As was published in advance, sharpshooters were posted along the border fence and ordered to kill ‘ringleaders’ of the unarmed protesters on the other side of the fence. The Gaza leadership had announced that these unarmed protests were to take place every week, after Friday prayers, until Naqba Day.
During the first two Fridays, 29 unarmed people were shot dead and more than a thousand wounded by sharpshooters.
For me this is not a judicial question. It is a crime, not only against the unarmed protesters. It is also a crime against the State of Israel, against the people of Israel and against the Israeli army.
Since I was a member of that army on the day of its foundation, I think that it is also a crime against my comrades and me.
This week a short video, recorded by a soldier at the time of such an action, was widely seen in Israel.
It shows the action from the angle of a soldier who was obviously standing next to a sharpshooter. The sharpshooter sees the demonstrators from a distance of hundreds of yards. The hairs of his sights move at random, than settle on an individual. He shoots. The person drops on the spot.
A joyous cry “Yesh” is heard all around from unseen soldiers who have been watching. “Yesh” means “got him”, a jubilant yell, such as would accompany a hunter’s success in killing a rabbit.
Many hundreds of thousands of Israelis have seen this film by now, since it was shown for the first time on TV. Except for a few articles and letters to the editor (in Haaretz), there has been no protest.
This did not happen overseas, in some remote colony. It happened right next to us, 45 minute’s drive from my home.
The killer was not a hardened mercenary. He – and the joyous soldiers around him – were just ordinary youngsters, drafted at the age of 18 like most Jewish Israelis.
All of them were just “following orders”. (Remember?) We have not heard of one single case of a soldier refusing orders.
Until two weeks ago, I had the highest respect for our highest officer, the Chief of Staff, Gadi Eizenkot. Surrounded by officers who are mere military technicians, he seemed an officer who, in spite of his unmilitary appearance, was well capable of upholding the dignity of the army against the punk who serves as Minister of Defense.
No more. Eizenkot has given the murderous orders. Why, for heavens sake?
Like the British in India and the white racists in the US, the Israeli government does not know how to deal with unarmed protest. It has never encountered it. It does not exist in Arab tradition.
By chance this week I saw the classic movie about Mahatma Gandhi. The British tried everything – they beat him and myriads of others into pulp, they shot thousands of others. When Gandhi and his followers suffered this torment and did not hit back, the British eventually admitted defeat and went away.
So did the white racist opponents of Martin Luther King in Alabama. A Palestinian follower of his came to this country at the beginning of the occupation and tried to convince his countrymen to try this method. The Israel army opened fire, and the Palestinians reverted to the armed struggle.
Not this time. The (violent) Islamic Hamas in the Gaza Strip calls on the population to try unarmed protest, tens of thousands follow. This can lead to unforeseen results. One of them is the sharpshooters’ order to kill more or less at random.
When I stated publicly that I am ashamed, a reader accused me of hypocrisy. He cited from my two books about our (1948) War of Independence, in which I had described atrocities to which I was a witness.
Sure, there were atrocities (as in every war). The perpetrators were soldiers of all ethnic and social groups. But they were denounced by some of their comrades (also of all ethnic and social groups). Most soldiers were in the middle, following the most persuasive.
Now the picture is different. Not only is the shooting of the unarmed protesters, far from the fence, done by order, but there seem to be no other voices. The military and political leadership is united. Even in civilian society, voices against the mass murder are very few.