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Ashkenazi: IDF – Still World's Most Moral Army

Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi addresses serious allegations of IDF misconduct, says Israel's army “the most moral in the world.”
By Maayana Miskin
First Publish: 3/23/2009, 6:56 PM

Israel News Photo: file

Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi has affirmed that he sees the IDF as “the most moral army in the world” despite recent allegations of human rights abuses in Gaza. Addressing new recruits this week, Ashkenazi said the army will investigate all claims of improper behavior, but that if there were such incidents “they were isolated.”

Ashkenazi confirmed that any soldier found guilty of violating the IDF's moral code would face trial.

He rejected claims that soldiers had killed civilians in “cold blood,” saying, “We must remember where we were operating: in a place where Hamas turned a residential neighborhood into a battleground, public facilities into weapons storehouses.”

Allegations that soldiers killed civilians were made last week by two soldiers who graduated one of Israel's few non-religious pre-military academies. The soldiers said they witnessed fellow soldiers shooting civilians who accidentally strayed into closed military zones.

The founder and director of the academy at which the soldiers studied, Danny Zamir, opposed the recent Cast Lead operation in Gaza before the allegations surfaced, and in January accused soldiers who participated in the operation of killing children.

Other soldiers have publicly accused the two finger pointers, whose names have not been revealed, of lying. Several commanders came forward to say their troops had scrupulously avoided harming civilians, and had gone out of their way to protect private property.

UN Reveals New Accusations
Meanwhile, the United Nations has released a series of new accusations. In a report published Monday, UN experts who visited Gaza to take testimony from locals accused IDF soldiers of shooting Arab children, using a child as a human shield, bulldozing a home with civilians inside, and shelling a building used as a civilian shelter.

Radhika Coomaraswamy, the UN's Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, said the incidents in the report were “documented and verified.” The report concludes that Israel must open Gaza crossings and allow Gaza residents to travel freely to Judea and Samaria.

The UN was unable to verify reports that Hamas had abused civilians in Gaza during the fighting, because the terrorist group refused to cooperate. Coomaraswamy said.