Gaza 2014: “They weren’t sure it wasn’t some family they just took down in there.”

06 Aug
7:27 PM
Breaking the Silence is an organization of veteran combatants who have served in the Israeli military since the start of the Second Intifada, and have taken it upon themselves to expose the Israeli public to the reality of everyday life in the Occupied Territories. They endeavor to stimulate public debate about the price paid for a reality in which young soldiers face a civilian population on a daily basis, and are engaged in the control of that population’s everyday life. Their work aims to bring an end to the occupation.
testimony catalog number: 805611
rank: First Sergeant
area: Northern Gaza strip
period: 2014

“We identified a few [figures]. Something black moving through the house – ‘black’ meaning hot. It took some work to secure a firepower source that could be used against the house. An aircraft was directed at it – and later we spotted ambulances [arriving] at the area and some kind of crowd. The soldier and the officer weren’t sure they understood what had happened there, they weren’t sure it wasn’t some family they just took down in there. And later on the news there were reports of five deaths in that neighborhood. There was no way to know, one doesn’t know for sure – but there was no way we could have [determined the figures in the house] were armed, or posed some kind of threat. It was clear to everyone that the possibility [of determining whether or not they were armed] was nonexistent, and it was clear to everyone that this was a gray zone where you say to yourself, “That could very well be an innocent person.” If that’s an innocent person, what’s he doing there? It could be that a second later he’ll pull something out and endanger a soldier who is somewhere out there. It’s perfectly clear this was the situation there. This dilemma is always present, throughout the operation. You don’t know who’s innocent and who isn’t, and there are cases when you will never know. Seen in this light, [that incident] was very significant.”

 

What was the distance between the forces and [the figures they spotted]?

“I don’t know. We knew there were forces there, you could see tank rampart enclosures (Defensive compounds made of rubble embankments) here and there. But it wasn’t like there was a detailed update about where there were forces and what the distances were between them and the identification. You verify with the operation rooms that there are no [IDF] forces there, you inform the battalion, the battalion is supposed to arrange firepower from the division, that’s where the circle closes. It took a long time until they addressed that report, that’s why it took, like, two hours.”

And what happens after those two hours?

“They (the forces conducting the fire) get in touch with us for precise details, exact location, which window, which floor. It’s the most precise fire there is. And then they fired, and [reported] a hit.”

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