Back in the days when U.S. politicians wanted to prove they were tough on crime there used to be a slogan: “Use a gun, go to jail.” Now, Tzahal has improved on that with news that if you were a Gazan using a cell phone during Operation Cast Lead, you were in some cases targeted for death by the IDF. If you were a local resident talking on a cell phone you were a target for any IDF soldier who happened to see you.
So reports the Israeli news portal Walla, noting that the Givati brigade had standing orders to shoot any Palestinian using a cell phone. It was called the “Pelephone [an Israeli cell phone brand] rule.” Apparently, soldiers believed that either the cell phones might be used to activate bombs or to report positions of IDF soldiers. There are no known reports that Gazans actually used their phones for any of these purposes. Nor is there any evidence of any general IDF warning to Gazans that they would be shot if they were seen using such equipment.
Interesting that the IDF seems not to have taken account that Gazans might be using their cell phones for legitimate purposes like making desperate calls to the Red Crescent Society to evacuate their dead or injured loved ones from homes assaulted by missiles, and from which the IDF refused to allow evacuation till many of the living had bled to death. Or that they might be trying to ensure that their loved ones might have found safe shelter from the IDF onslaught.
According to the officer who first related the rule to military investigators, it specified that a warning was to be given the Palestinian to stop using the phone. If the warning was ignored, then a warning shot was to be fired over his head. If this too was ignored, then shooting at the victim was permitted. This sounds suspiciously like a post facto justification. I’d guess that in the field, in the rush of battlefield adrenalin, the niceties of the procedure might’ve been fudged and a frightened boy soldier might’ve shot first and asked questions never. Not to mention, that very few Givati soldiers would know enough Arabic to be able to communicate this message to a potential victim. Walla reports that a number of Gazans were injured by such fire. Investigators are trying to match up reports of deaths mentioned in the Goldstone Report with this procedure to discover whether Gazans were actually killed due to it.
Lt. Col. Ilan Malka, commander of the brigade, has also been questioned about the rule to determine whether it was sanctioned at the highest command level. Malka has also been investigated for approving the slaughter to the al-Samouni family in their home which resulted in the murder of 21 clan members and grave injuries to many more.