The IDF has borne out a comment by Defense Minister Ehud Barak that it is “like no other army” and will file charges against a soldier who allegedly violated guidelines in the killing of two Gaza women during the Operation Cast Lead war against Hamas.
Army spokesmen said that it has not been decided whether murder charges or a lesser indictment will be filed. Arabs charge that the two women, a mother in her 60s and her daughter, were among a group of 31 who raised white flags before they were shot and killed.
The soldier, who was on the ground at the time, allegedly shot without an “open fire” order from his commander. He now is a civilian, having ended his three-year obligatory term in the army.
Other details of the shootings have not been disclosed, but previous charges against soldiers fighting on the front lines often have raised questions considering the ability of troops to defend themselves and the country optimally under the threat of punishment for a wrong split-second decision.
After the conclusion in January 2009 of the three-week campaign against the terrorist infrastructure in Gaza, the IDF said it was conducting an internal investigation of several possible violations. After the probe began, the United Nations Human Rights Commission appointed retired South African Judge Richard Goldstone to head an inquiry, which ultimately accused Israel of war crimes while virtually acquitting Hamas.
President Shimon Peres labeled the report as being a “mockery of history” and accused Goldstone of being “a small man, devoid of any sense of justice, a technocrat… [who] was on a one-sided mission to hurt Israel."
Despite the damning Goldstone report, the IDF has continued with its investigations of the “white flag shooting” which, like many others that the IDF was and is investigating, was mentioned in the Goldstone Report.
Israeli soldiers are commanded to uphold high standards of morals. Barak, a former IDF Chief of Staff, has stated that no army in the world compares with the IDF, “both from a moral standpoint as well as from a professional standpoint."