A report published in the Israeli daily newspaper, Haaretz on Friday revealed harrowing details of the military protocol followed by Israeli army snipers who have killed over 300 Palestinian protesters and wounded thousands more at the fence separating besieged Gaza from Israel.
The report, written by Israeli journalist Hilo Glazer included testimonies of six Israeli snipers who took part in the ongoing army violence targeting peaceful protesters in Gaza, who, starting in March 2018, gathered at the fence demanding an end to the Israeli siege.
‘Eden’, a fictitious name for one of the soldiers, spoke about breaking a record that made him stand out among his fellow soldiers.
“Eden says he broke the ‘knee record’ in the demonstration that took place on the day the new US Embassy in Jerusalem was inaugurated on May 14, 2018”.
“On that day, our pair had the largest number of hits, 42 in all. My locator wasn’t supposed to shoot, but I gave him a break, because we were getting close to the end of our stint, and he didn’t have knees. In the end you want to leave with the feeling that you did something, that you weren’t a sniper during exercises only. So, after I had a few hits, I suggested to him that we switch. He got around 28 knees there, I’d say.”
Another soldier told Haaretz:
“There was a Palestinian who looked like he was about 20, who didn’t stop moving around. Pink shirt, gray pants. What they do is run-run-run, and then end up in the concertina wire. He was really good at it. In that situation you can finish him off or hit someone behind him. I clearly remember being worried about missing his leg – and then feeling relief (sic) that I made a precise hit.”
Referring to the shooting of Palestinian minors, Eden said:
“Sometimes it really is hard to tell the difference (between minors and adults). You look at facial features, height, body mass. Clothing is also a certain index. The younger ones are usually wearing T-shirts. But listen, a 16-year-old can cause you harm, too. If he presents a threat, the age parameter is not necessarily relevant.”
When, after 16 months of protests, the Israeli army allegedly decided to alter its guidelines for snipers and asked them to aim at the ankle to avoid an even higher number of fatalities, Israeli snipers weren’t happy.
“There was a stage when the order really was to aim at the ankle,” Eden said. “I didn’t like that change. Believe in your snipers. To me, it felt like they were trying to make our life harder for no reason.”
Another soldier, Amir: “A terrorist who deserves to die is standing opposite me, but because we have to justify ourselves to Haaretz or to the BBC, he gets out of it without a scratch. Cowardice is created that trickles down.”
“I believe I was on the right side and that I did the right thing,” he insisted, “because if not for us, the terrorists would try to cross the fence. It’s obvious to you that there is a reason that you’re there.”
“Not that we didn’t have enough evidence to indict the Israeli army and government for ordering and executing this kind of human rights violations and war crimes,” Palestinian writer and editor of the Palestine Chronicle, Ramzy Baroud said, “but now we have damning evidence published in Israel’s own media that should be more than enough to put many of these criminals behind bars.”
“The bloodbath that has taken place at the fence of a besieged and war-fatigued Gaza should be the center of the ICC’s investigation of Israeli war crimes,” Baroud said referring to the decision by the International Criminal Court Chief, Fatou Bensouda on December 20, 2019, to investigate alleged war crimes in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.
Aside from the hundreds of dead and thousands of wounded, hundreds of Palestinians in Gaza have been maimed for life.