IDF reservist Matan Katzman tells EU human rights subcommittee: “[IDF] policy is so concrete and clear that Hamas is an expert on it and uses it to their advantage. They place snipers in schools and hospitals, they stock weapons in homes.”
Israel Defense Forces Capt. (res.) Matan Katzman spoke Wednesday before the Human Rights Subcommittee of the European Parliament in an effort to counter recent testimony by Breaking the Silence, an organization dedicated to exposing alleged wrongdoings by the Israeli army.
“The IDF is a moral army fighting in an immoral neighborhood,” said Katzman, who serves in the Givati Brigade and was speaking on behalf of StandWithUs, an educational organization for Israel advocacy, and the My Truth initiative, which gathers IDF soldier testimonies.
Katzman co-founded My Truth with fellow soldier Avichai Shorshan in response to a damning report released by Breaking the Silence about IDF conduct during last summer’s Gaza conflict. When the group sought to export their testimony to European audiences, the My Truth organizers felt something needed to be done about the unfair portrayal of the IDF.
“Behind every Israeli soldier there is a human being, a human being that has to go out and defend his country, although he faces the complexities of war,” Katzman said to the EU subcommittee.
He went on to say that “in Gaza, our mission was clear: It was to stop the rocket fire that put over a million Israeli children in bomb shelters last summer.”
The subcommittee that Katzman addressed is expected to arrive in Israel soon as part of an investigation into Operation Protective Edge.
Katzman has fought in every major Gaza conflict since 2005. He told the lawmakers that the IDF has a clear policy to protect Palestinian civilian life, even at the expense of compromising the safety of its own missions, as it does when it repeatedly warns civilians about incoming attacks.
He clarified that the most important rule of engagement in the IDF is that “in cases of doubt, don’t shoot. If there is doubt, there is no doubt — we don’t shoot.”
Describing Operation Protective Edge, Katzman said,”During last summer’s war, the Israeli army aborted and cancelled multiple missions from air and from ground in cases where Palestinian civilians were present, or we even thought they were present.
“Our policy is so concrete and clear that Hamas is an expert on it and uses it to their advantage. They place snipers in schools and hospitals, they stock weapons in homes. U.N.-funded medical clinics are used to booby-trap and to harm soldiers.”