JERUSALEM, March 20 (Reuters) – Rabbis in the Israeli army told battlefield troops in January’s Gaza offensive theywere fighting a “religious war” against gentiles, according to one army commander’s account published on Friday.
“Their message was very clear: we are the Jewish people, we came to this land by a miracle, God brought us back to this land and now we need to fight to expel the gentiles who are interfering with our conquest of this holy land,” he said.
The account by Ram, a pseudonym to shield the soldier’s identity, was published by the left-leaning Haaretz newspaper in the second day of revelations that have rocked the Israeli military. (www.haaretz.com “Shooting and Crying, 2009”).
They were leaked from a Feb 13 meeting of armed forces members to share their Gaza experiences.
Some veterans, alumni of an Israel Defence Force (IDF) military academy, told of the killing of civilians and their impression that deep contempt for Palestinians pervaded the ranks of the Israeli forces.
Haaretz and the daily Maariv, which also published the accounts, quoted over half a dozen soldiers and airmen. The institution’s director, Danny Zamir, confirmed that Thursday’s published accounts were authentic.
In longer excerpts in its Friday “Week’s End” edition, the daily quoted ‘Ram’ as saying his impression of the 22-day operation was “the feeling of an almost religious mission”.
There was a “huge gap between what the Education Corps sent out and what the IDF rabbinate sent out”, he said. The corps’s pamphlets told the history of Israel’s fighting in Gaza from 1948 to the present, but the rabbinate’s message imparted the sense that “this operation was a religious war”. Continue reading