Government Says Two 'Cast Lead' Officers Disciplined

Independent of Goldstone report, the government wrote the UN that two IDF officers were disciplined for endangering the lives of Arabs in Gaza.

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Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu, | updated: 11:04

Smoke billows in Gaza
Smoke billows in Gaza
Israel news photo: Flash 90

Israel’s official response to the United Nations on the Goldstone report revealed that two senior officers were disciplined for endangering the lives of Gaza Arabs in Operation Cast Lead last year, but it added no details on what action was taken. An initial IDF response contradicts the government response.

Defense Minister Ehud Barak sent the United Nations the 46-page report last week as a response to charges by U.N. Human Rights Commission Judge Richard Goldstone that Israel committed war crimes in the counterterrorist campaign. Barak told the international body that the military already had conducted its own probe on alleged violations before the publication of the Goldstone report, which he termed totally inaccurate.

The two officers supposedly charged are Maj.-Gen. Eyal Eisenberg, commander of the Gaza division, and former Givati brigade commander Col. Ilan Malkah. They were reportedly accused of exceeding their authority by ordering the firing of three artillery shells that accidentally exposed Gaza Arabs to white phosphorous, a substance forbidden in civilian zones. However, an initial IDF statement denies that any disciplinary action was taken.

During the three-week Operation Cast Lead battles, the IDF fired artillery shells to hinder the ability of Hamas terrorists to fire advanced anti-tank rockets at soldiers. The revelation of disciplinary action contradicts earlier IDF reports that the firing of the artillery shells did not violate orders from the upper echelon of the IDF.