IDF Officers Believe Cast Lead ‘War Criminal List” Leaked Internally « Tikun Olam-תקון עולם: Make the World a Better Place

lt col shuki ribak

Lt. Col. Shuki Ribak (pixellated image, right) headline: ‘Us. No. They blamed them for deliberate fire on civilians, for immoral warfare and disproportional use of force. They come forward to say what really happened deep within Gaza.’ ‘We are first and foremost human beings.’ (Yediot 2009)

The IDF magazine, Bamachaneh confirmed today that the list of IDF officers who served in Cast Lead and allegedly committed war crimes, was leaked through an army source.  This contradicts attempts by Israel apologists to rebut the charges and information contained in the list by saying some of those listed didn’t serve in that Operation.

The army’s department of information security is now exploring how such a leak could have occurred but has very few leads.  Some IDF elements are attempting to argue that much of the information was secured through social networking sites and internet forums.  While others believe the leak is internal to Tzahal:

It could be anything [or anyone].  We’re talking about details which are difficult to secure, with numerous [security] obstacles placed in one’s path.  We can’t determine whether the adjutant corps or another party that might have access to the details.

Bamachaneh’s review of the names indicates that the lion’s share (20%) of those exposed serve in the elite paratroopers unit.  Givati and Golani follow just behind.  Most of the Dirty 200 serve in either the infantry or armored units.  85% of the list are officers, most of those, lower-ranking.  A very small number of those named are women (seven).  The article notes that this is the first time that lower-level officers are named as war criminals, thus indicating the battle in the international arena is becoming more comprehensive.

IDF military prosecutor Mark Perry went so far as to say:

It’s not yet to the point that a soldier going into battle needs a lawyer next to him, but perhaps the telephone number of one will suffice.  Every soldier must know that he is likely to be called to give evidence.  I don’t see any reason that anyone will be charged with a crime, but if someone is called in for an investigation it’s a good idea to have an attorney.

Israel’s Justice Ministry released a statement confirming that the IDF operates according to international law and did so during Cast Lead:

The publication of the names of those who supposedly committed war crimes during their service in Operation Cast Lead is a perverse act by those who do not have the good of the State of Israel at heart, but rather seek to damage the good name of Israel, its army and soldiers.  The publication of the name of an officer and soldier does not constitute a legitimate basis for filing a legal action in a foreign court.  The Justice Ministry and military prosecutor will follow such legal proceedings brought against those act on behalf of the nation in its war against terror organizations and will take the necessary steps to the extent they are necessary.

Lt. Col. Shuki Ribak said that while the leak of the names doesn’t trouble him personally:

What does bother me is the fact that the source of the leak comes from the army [itself].  Clearly, this comes from an internal source.  It even includes the name of someone who served in Cast Lead only in the role of a substitute [officer].  It’s not pleasant to have to explain to your son why you appear in a list of war criminals.  But I have no worries about traveling abroad.

I should add that Israeli newspapers collude or at least acquiescse in an IDF demand that they not picture veteran officers of Cast Lead for fear of just the sort of legal campaign outlined in the Bamachaneh story.  That is why his image is pixellated above.  If a reader can find a clear image of him or anyone featured in the Bemachaneh article, please let me know.

Another officer said that he was worried about travel abroad but at peace with what he did [during the war]:

It angers me but there’s nothing to be done [about it].  It’s something you just have to accept [as the price you pay].    The State sent me to protect the residents of southern Israel and I don’t regret that.

A junior officer whose name was revealed said:

Deep inside I worry whether this will have a harmful impact in the future for example during a travel tour or work interview.

The IDF is warning its soldiers not to publicize their private information at social networking sites.  It seems that this is yet another constraint placed upon the lives of Israeli soldiers; yet another price they pay, albeit small, for participating in morally tainted acts on behalf of their country.

With every new revelation like the Dirty 200 list, the moral noose is tightened that much more around those who engaged in misdeeds during Cast Lead.  The shroud of impunity is lifting every so gradually.  The notion of accountability is affirmed in an ever-stronger fashion.  This is a battle of inches on behalf of international law and Israeli responsibility.  Gradually and eventually every Israeli soldier will realize the price they are paying for their nation’s futile, failed folly in pursuing all-out war against Palestinian civilians in Gaza during Cast Lead and the inevitable next war as well.

The notion of Israeli immunity from judgment is cracking ever so slowly like the shards of an ancient mirror.  Eventually, anyone who looks into the mirror will see the distorted fragmented version of their own self-image mutilated by this disintegration.  Let anyone placed in such a position take notice.  There is a way to face justice and do the right thing.  Tell your superior officer that you will serve to defend Israel but not project its aggressive policies onto defenseless Palestinian civilians in Gaza or elsewhere beyond Israel’s borders.  Yes, the IDF makes servuvniks pay a high price for their refusal, but what is the alternative?  To face justice in a foreign land for a crime you committed on behalf of a depraved policy advanced by your own government, its politicians and generals?  What kind of devil’s bargain is this?

And the fact that such a list was leaked from within the IDF indicates a further erosion of that self-confidence, even hubris for which the officer corps is known.  When the guy standing next to you could be the very one “ratting you out” to the world, it kinda puts a damper on things.

IDF Officers Believe Cast Lead ‘War Criminal List” Leaked Internally « Tikun Olam-תקון עולם: Make the World a Better Place.