I have periodically defended Israel’s response to rocket fire from Gaza (e.g., here and here), so I think it is only fair that I post on this story from the New York Times on Israeli soldiers’ accounts of what appear to be incidents of war crimes that took place during the recent Israeli incursion into Gaza. For instance, a soldier recounted a sniper attack that killed a woman and children who mistakenly came too close to a “no-go” zone, and a soldier recounted receiving instruction from his officers that suggested a “shoot first, ask questions later” attitude towards civilians.
To be sure, some soldiers have disputed such accounts. But still, the Israeli government must investigate these incidents and, if it finds that crimes were committed, it must punish the people responsible accordingly.
I do think that it is important to note that these incidents have been reported in Israel’s free press, that they are being openly debated in Israeli civil society, and that the IDF’s chief advocate general has already ordered an inquiry. I am confident that Israel will deal with the accusations in a fair and open way. Indeed, I’m much more confident of that than I am that any other state or non-state actor in the region would do the same.