CBNNews.com - JERUSALEM, Israel - Israel Defense Forces (IDF) Chief of General Staff Lt.-General Gabi Ashkenazi responded to the recent media assault alleging war crimes during Israel's military operation in the Gaza Strip.
His remarks were addressed to new recruits to the Engineering Corps at the Tel Hashomer base on Monday.
"I don't believe that IDF soldiers cold-bloodedly targeted Palestinian civilians," Ashkenazi said. "We have opened an investigation into the recently published statements," he said.
"We will wait for the results of the investigation, but my impression is that the IDF behaved in a moral and ethical manner. If there were any incidents, they were isolated," he said.
"I can say that the IDF is the most moral military in the world, with high values. We must remember what region we were operating in: a place in which Hamas turned residential neighborhoods into fighting zones and public facilities into warehouses for storing ammunition," Ashkenazi said.
Despite the setting, the IDF made every effort to protect the civilian population.
"We distributed leaflets prior to the operation, warned the citizens using the media, telephoned more than 200,000 households and used the technique of firing warning shots in order to avoid harming civilians. It can definitely be said that we did everything imaginable in order to avoid harming civilians who were not involved in the fighting," he said.
"I have known the IDF for many years. I accompanied the preparations for this operation. I was also in the field and I saw the moral and ethical army operating properly, according to my impressions," he said.
"It is a great privilege to stand at the head of this army. We received a mission and fulfilled it. I believed we gained deterrent power vis-à-vis Hamas, and we can see that there has not been any shooting from the Gaza Strip recently. I hope it will stay this way. But if it doesn't, we will not hesitate to take action," Ashkenazi said.
The chief of staff said despite the most recent breakdown in negotiations for the release of captured IDF Cpl. Gilad Shalit, he is personally committed to his return.
"As Gilad's [Shalit] commander, I see it as my duty to take action to bring him home. The efforts to do so are continuing, and I don't want to go into any more detail than that. It is clear that as long as Gilad is in captivity, our mission is not over," he said.
Source: YNet news