Amos Harel, writing in Haaretz, reveals the Israel General Staff was quite aware there would be extensive civilian casualties and planned that soldiers would advance behind a “rolling curtain” of aerial and artillery fire with first consideration in the operation the safety of Israeli soldiers. Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkennazi made clear, “unlike in Lebanon, the civilians in Gaza won’t have many places to escape to. When an armored force enters the city, shells will fly because we have to protect our people.” Prime Minister Olmert and Foreign Secretary Tzipi Livni promised to support the plan since they feared heavy casualties would impact the upcoming election.
Israel intelligence Shin Beit defined the “enemy” as anyone connected to Hamas regardless if they worked in a welfare agency or were a member of an armed force. The person who made the final decision to fire at a target was not the commander on site but someone in the command center miles away. Testimonies of members of the IDF reveal forcing civilians to enter homes and get people to come out or firing at medical personnel and killing of innocent civilians.
The only way Israel can fulfill its destiny as a center of moral behavior is to conduct a thorough investigation and punish all those who were responsible for violating international law. Unfortunately, those on top such as senior military commanders will escape unpunished.