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Israeli Army Investigates 'Atrocity' Rumors

Chief Of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi: "If any Israeli soldiers deliberately harmed Palestinian civilians they will be prosecuted"

"I do not believe soldiers of IDF harmed civilians in cold blood"

Hamas prisoners in Israeli jails consider how to break the deadlock between Hamas and Israel over release of Gilad Shalit

IDF Chief Of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi

IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi has reacted to recent reports that some IDF soldiers deliberately harmed Palestinian civilians during January's "Cast Lead" operation in the Gaza Strip. While visiting an IDF enlistment base, General Ashkenazi said if an investigation uncovered any wrongdoing those soldiers involved would be prosecuted. In another development, senior Hamas members being held in Israeli prisons have met to consider how to break the deadlock between Hamas and Israel over a prisoner exchange for captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shavit.

"I do not believe soldiers of the IDF would harm Palestinian civilians in cold blood" - that's the reaction of IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi to recent rumors that some IDF soldiers deliberately attacked Palestinian civilians during Israel's recent incursion into the Gaza Strip to halt the Hamas rocketing of Israeli towns and villages. However, Gen. Ashkenazi was awaiting the results of an investigation by the military police. In his view, the IDF was one of the most moral armies in the world and operated with a very high code of combat ethics. The IDF Chief of Staff stated that all incidents would be investigated thoroughly and if warranted soldiers would be prosecuted.

The IDF Chief of Staff stated that all incidents would be investigated thoroughly and if warranted soldiers would be prosecuted

Israel's top commander noted that Hamas had fought behind Palestinian civilians in Gaza. The terrorists had turned residential neighborhoods into battlegrounds. He noted that schools and public buildings were converted into military positions as well as arsenals for rockets.In attacking the terrorists, the IDF had taken all possible measures to limit Palestinian civilian casualties.(In this context, it should be noted that due to the complexity of the fighting inside populated areas on Gaza, several IDF soldiers were also killed and wounded by 'friendly' Israeli fire. D.E.)

Infantry soldiers in ground operation in the Gaza Strip

General Ashkenazi declared that it was a privilege to command the IDF and he was proud of its achievements. He noted there has been a drop in the sporadic rocketing of Israel from Gaza lately. If it did not stop altogether, Israel would not hesitate to react.

As for captured IDF soldier Gilad Shalit, General Ashkenazi said that he as commander as well as the entire state of Israel bore a moral responsibility to bring him back home. Although Israel and Hamas had reached a deadlock over the prisoner exchange, the effort was continuing at this very hour.

Israeli authorities have reportedly permitted five Hamas members to be driven in an Israeli police car to the Keziot prison to discuss in private where they stand on the prisoner exchange

In a new development, a press report said that senior Hamas members, being held in Israeli prisons, have been allowed to meet to discuss the prisoner exchange that affects them. Israeli authorities have reportedly permitted  five Hamas members to be driven in an Israeli police car to the Keziot prison to discuss in private where they stand on the prisoner exchange. According to the report, the Hamas members have drafted a document that will be forwarded to the Hamas leadership both in Gaza and in Syria.

Meanwhile, Israeli demonstrators tried to prevent Palestinian relatives from visiting Hamas terrorists being held in an Israeli prison today. The demonstrators charged that Israel grants these prisoners such exceptional rights as Arabic television, sports activities and even allows them to take university degrees by correspondence with the Open University! This is above and beyond the basic prisoner rights ensured by international law. But on the other side, Hamas has not allowed even one Red Cross visit with Gilad Shalit in flagrant violation of international law. In fact, nothing is known about the soldier's condition and his confinement. Be that as it may, Israeli police were on hand to stop the demonstrators from preventing the Palestinian relatives from entering the prison for their usual visits with the terrorist inmates.

David Essing

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