CBNNews.com - JERUSALEM, Israel - IDF (Israel Defense Forces) Chief of General Staff Lt.-General Gabi Ashkenazi said claims of war crimes during the three-week military operation in the Gaza Strip were utterly unfounded.
"We were all, myself included, disturbed by the 'testimonies' attributed to soldiers regarding inappropriate actions and the ostensible intentional harm visited upon the civilian population," Ashkenazi stated in a Passover holiday greeting to IDF reservists.
"These testimonies were exhaustively examined and investigated by military police and military advocacy and, to my satisfaction, have been proven to be unfounded and lacking any factual base," the IDF chief stated.
Ashkenazi was addressing claims made by graduates of the Rabin Pre-Military Academy during a February conference, printed and distributed by the academy, which then became headlines both in Israel and around the world.
The IDF chief said any deviations would be appropriately dealt with.
"When the investigations are [fully] concluded, isolated deviations from this norm will be discovered and they will be investigated and thoroughly dealt with. The IDF is determined to safeguard its values and ethical and normative image. This is the source of our strength. We will never adapt the norms and values of our enemies and will always remain loyal to the values and heritage of our nation," he wrote.
"[The] IDF is based on the pairing of strength and justice, the need to brandish a sword in order to deter those who would destroy us, and our incessant striving for peace with our neighbors….This ethos has withstood the test of all the wars we have know and, recently, also of Operation Cast Lead," Ashkenazi wrote.
"We went to war with Hamas and other terror organizations after an extensive period of restraint, determined to defend our homes and our citizens and to remove the terror threat to the residents of the South."
Hamas, he wrote, "has turned their own people into human shields and chose to rain down fire and death from their homes, from inside schools, hospitals and mosques and forced us into an arena stepped with civilian populace.
"We insisted on focusing our war effort on terror organizations and their infrastructure, while remaining determined to…take every possible measure in order to safeguard the lives of our soldiers and refrain from harming the noncombatant civilian population."
Source: The Jerusalem Post