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News :: International
IDF Soldier - Officers Encouraged Soldiers to Kill Civilians as 'Collective Punishment'
06 Aug 2014
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Israel Defense Forces soldiers condemn destruction of Gaza ( from World Socialist Web Site ) 6 August 2014

As the bloodbath continued in Gaza last week, a member of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), Eran Efrati, exposed on social media classified information concerning the tactics and targets of the devastating attacks on the Palestinian people who are trapped in the war zone. He explicitly stated that his superiors encouraged IDF soldiers to take revenge on Palestinian civilians for their fallen comrades.

Efrati, a company sergeant, posted to his Facebook page on Tuesday, July 29 that Palestinian civilians killed during the Shuja’iyya massacre of July 20 were deliberately targeted in order to “punish” the population for the killing of seven Israeli soldiers serving in the Golani Brigade by sniper fire.

“The official command that was handed down to the soldiers in Shujaiyya was to capture Palestinian homes as outposts,” Efrati wrote. “From these posts, the soldiers drew an imaginary red line, and amongst themselves decided to shoot to death anyone who crosses it. Anyone crossing the line was defined as a threat to their outposts, and was thus deemed a legitimate target.”

Efrati, who has previously investigated similar attacks on Palestinians, continued, explaining that “the unofficial reason was to enable the soldiers to take out their frustrations and pain at losing their fellow soldiers on the Palestinian refugees in the neighborhood. Under the pretext of the so-called ‘security threat,’ soldiers were directed to carry out a pre-planned attack of revenge on Palestinian civilians.”

Efrati has also stated that illegal weapons are being used by the IDF in Gaza but has not identified what these weapons are.

Following the public posting of these claims, Erati was detained, arrested, and interrogated for his posts to social media. Afterward, Erati discovered that his Facebook and email accounts had been blocked through the censorship of his Internet Service Provider. He has also received threats of death should he decide to continue revealing information about the IDF and its operation in Gaza.

Despite threats to his life, Efrati has not remained silent. He has explained he will continue to find ways to divulge information to the world concerning Israeli war crimes.

Richard Silverstein, the creator of a political blog that exposes “excesses” of the Israeli national security state, has told reporters the revelations of Efrati can be compared to the massacre of My Lai. Referencing the Shuja’iyya massacre, some of which has been captured on video, he explains, “the man in green murdered in cold blood in the YouTube video wasn’t killed by a lone gunman operating on his own. His murder was approved as an act of vengeance on all of Gaza. Let’s remember that 120 Palestinians died that night in Shejaia. This was no accident. They weren’t collateral damage. They were the targets.”

News of the intentional targeting of civilians by the IDF has also come from the Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth, which published a statement on July 18 reporting that during one particular ground invasion, “The tanks, which serve as the heart of the assault force, received an order to open fire at anything that moved.”

Efrati is not the only Israeli soldier to defy his superiors. Sahar Vardi, a member of the organization New Profile has told news reporters that more than 100 Israelis have contacted his network seeking to avoid serving in the current operation in Gaza.

“We don’t see a lot of people that want to publicly refuse this war at the moment,” Vardi said. “But war radicalizes people, and they begin to see the occupation [in the West Bank] in a new light.”

In Israel, mandatory military conscription is required for all citizens upon reaching the age of 18 for two to three years, after which they are required to remain ready to serve when called up until the age of 45.

One soldier, 1st Sgt. A., who prefers to remain anonymous, refused to take part in the current operation in Gaza until he was jailed for disobeying orders. Previously, he had been jailed for two or three days for refusing to serve a round of reserve duty in the West Bank. This time, his punishment was more severe.

A. explained, “Many Tel Aviv-type people that preferred partying over fighting in Gaza showed up to the base a week late, and were also put in jail. But they were given three or four days. I was given 18 because my commander wanted to make an example out of me for refusing the premise of this war.”

Although he may go back to jail at any moment for this same offense, he is determined to maintain his position. “I see no alternative,” he said. “I can’t be a part of this cycle of blood and gore, where every two or three years we go into Gaza. I either refuse or I participate. There is no in-between.”

On July 23, the Washington Post published a statement submitted by a group of 50 Israelis who refuse to be part of the IDF reserves. According to the statement, their disdain for the current military operation is only part of the reason for their refusal.

“To us, the current military operation and the way militarization affects Israeli society are inseparable,” they declared. “In Israel, war is not merely politics by other means—it replaces politics. Israel is no longer able to think about a solution to a political conflict except in terms of physical might; no wonder it is prone to never-ending cycles of mortal violence. And when the cannons fire, no criticism may be heard.”
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New Snowden leak highlights collaboration between NSA and Israeli intelligence
06 Aug 2014
6 August 2014 ( World Socialist Web Site )

Documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden highlight the extensive collaboration between the US National Security Agency (NSA) and Israel’s SIGINT National Unit (ISNU). The documents were published in the Intercept by journalist Glenn Greenwald.

One document, dated April 13, 2013, shows that the NSA works with ISNU to collect and analyze raw data, including data acquired from US citizens. According to the document, the NSA “maintains a far-reaching technical and analytic relationship with the Israeli SIGINT National Unit, sharing information on access, intercept, targeting, language, analysis and reporting.”

“This SIGINT relationship has increasingly been the catalyst for a broader intelligence relationship between the United States and Israel,” the document states.

“The Israeli side enjoys the benefits of expanded geographic access to world-class NSA crypto analytic and SIGINT engineering expertise, and also gains controlled access to advanced US technology and equipment via accommodation buys and foreign military sales,” the document states.

The same document shows that the NSA and the ISNU work together to acquire intelligence on targets in North Africa, the Middle East, the Persian Gulf, South Asia and the former Soviet Union, sharing “a dedicated communications line” for the “exchange of raw material, as well as daily analytic and technical correspondence.”

“The single largest exchange between NSA and ISNU is on targets in the Middle East which constitute strategic threats to US and Israeli interests…Within that set of countries, cooperation covers the exploitation of internal governmental, military, civil and diplomatic communications,” the document states.

Documents leaked by Snowden also expose the substantial support enjoyed by Israel from Western intelligence as it coordinates war crimes against the Palestinians.

During late 2008 and early 2009, as the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) subjected the Palestinian population to a massive terror campaign—codenamed Operation Cast Lead—US, British and Canadian intelligence engaged in extensive spying on specific email addresses and telephone numbers inside the Occupied Territories on behalf of the ISNU. GCHQ noted in an internal document that ISNU has “thanked us many times over” for intelligence provided during the assault on Gaza.

The documents also expose the joint efforts by the Israeli and US authorities to sabotage Iran’s uranium enrichment program and target the Assad regime in Syria. The document boasts that “NSA and ISNU continue to initiate joint targeting of Syrian and Iranian leadership and nuclear development programs with CIA, ISNU, SOD and Mossad. This exchange has been particularly important as unrest in Syria continues, and both sides work together to identify threats to regional stability.”

“NSA’s cyber partnerships expanded beyond ISNU to include Israeli Defense Intelligence’s SOD and Mossad, resulting in unprecedented access and collection breakthroughs that all sides acknowledge would not have been possible to achieve without the others,” the document states. “Target sets include, but are not limited to Iran Nuclear, Syrian Foreign Fighter movements, Lebanese Hizballah and Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps activities.”

Another NSA document leaked by Snowden highlights the involvement of Jordan with the machinations of US imperialism throughout the region. According to the document, the Jordanian Electronic Warfare Directorate (EWD) has maintained a “well established, long-standing and trusted relationship dating back to the early 1980s” with the NSA.

The EWD provides US and Israeli authorities “high-interest, unique collection on targets of mutual interest, such as the Palestinian Security Forces,” the document states. “EWD is the sole contributor to a large body of NSA’s reporting on this target,”
New York Times clears stories with Israeli military censors first
06 Aug 2014
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New York Times Reporter Addresses Israeli Censorship On Soldier Story

NEW YORK -- Jodi Rudoren, the Jerusalem bureau chief for The New York Times, addressed the paper’s decision Friday to withhold a biographical detail about an Israeli soldier at the Israeli military's request.

“Any censorship is a huge compromise," Rudoren wrote Monday night on Times Insider, a feature accessible to Times Premier subscribers. "In these cases, though, the actual cost to readers’ understanding was limited."

In the first-person piece, Rudoren recalled how a military censor named Udi informed her Friday that articles about Second Lt. Hadar Goldin –- originally reported as captured by Palestinian militants and later declared killed in action -- needed to be submitted for review before publication.

Rudoren said the censor's request came after confirming Goldin was related to Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, a detail she expected the government did not want made public. In deciding to withhold the detail, she wrote:

Lieutenant Goldin’s relationship to a high-ranking politician was a different kind of story. The Times, in the past, has withheld information that might jeopardize the life of a captive soldier at the request of American authorities. Editors in New York would have wanted to discuss if The Times should break news about the captured Israeli soldier’s family ties in any case, as the paper has policies in place that require careful consideration of the circumstances before we release information about hostages.

Even so, a colleague in New York did prepare an article in case we changed our journalistic calculations, or the information about the soldier was widely reported by other media outlets. Meanwhile, the international editor, Joe Kahn, and I decided that we should mention the censor’s call in our web story, for transparency. We were leaving something out of the article, and felt we needed to signal that to readers. The inserted paragraph noted the rarity of the censor’s intervention.

The acknowledgement Friday of the military’s censorship notification drew attention to the fact that foreign reporters must agree to such requests in order to receive press accreditation in Israel.

Kahn told The Huffington Post on Friday that the Times would not submit entire articles for the censor to review, which Rudoren confirmed in her piece. On Friday, Kahn said the Times did not report on a “very narrow issue” that concerned “the background of the captive soldier.” The Times reported on Goldin’s relationship to Ya’alon on Sunday after the government announced the soldier had been killed.

There was also speculation this past weekend that the Israeli military censor ordered the Times to cut a mention of the "Hannibal" directive, an operation in which Israeli soldiers can pursue a captured soldier even if it means firing in the soldier's direction and thereby risking his or her life.

Greg Mitchell, who writes on media issues, noted the reference was cut as the Times story was updated during the day. Rudoren wrote Monday that the censor did not order that reference to be cut, but also did not explain why it didn't appear in a later version of the article.

Rudoren also acknowledged Monday that the Times abides by court-imposed gag orders in Israel, an issue that Public Editor Margaret Sullivan in April.