In the wake of a spate of news stories which ran for several days in the New York Times, the Washington Post, the International Herald Tribune and hundreds of newspapers around the world reported the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) killed two Palestinian women in cold blood, which raised a storm of controversy.
According to the media accounts, an Israeli sniper fired at a Palestinian woman and her two daughters, killing them. In a second reported case, Israeli soldiers allegedly shot and killed an elderly person to entertain themselves.
However, leading Israeli legal authorities say, following an independent investigation, the alleged killings never occurred according to eyewitness testimonies.
These incidents were clarified in testimony provided by Danny Zamir, the head of the Rabin pre-military training academy, and were presented to IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi.
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Brig. Gen. Eyal Eisenberg, commander of the IDF’s Gaza Division, as well as, Maj. Gen. Yoav Gallant, head of the IDF’s Southern Army Command, also received the investigation’s findings.
The brigade commander’s investigation affirmed the sniper’s claim he merely fired warning shots.
“I saw the woman and her daughters, and I shot warning shots,” the sniper said. “The commander came up to the roof and shouted at me, ‘Why did you shoot at them?’ I explained that I did not shoot at them, but I fired warning shots.”
Brigade officers suspect Palestinian fighters who remained in the lower story of a nearby house thought he had shot the women, which led to rumors the sniper had killed the mother and her two daughters.
Regarding the second reported incident, the investigation showed it never occurred.
An officer of an elite combat unit that fought deep in Palestinian territory told the Israeli media that “non-combatant civilians were killed without doubt. But there was no deliberate harm done to innocent civilians. I am fully convinced that there was no soldier who shot for no reason out of a desire for revenge. I don’t know of any such cases.”
David Bedein can be reached at email@example.com