"We No Longer Saw Them As Human"
Under the category of "but it can't happen here" from Reuters:
Israeli special forces killed 15 Palestinians, including police, in a 2002 shooting spree ordered to avenge comrades slain in a West Bank ambush, an Israeli newspaper said on Friday, citing testimony by troops.The irony of Israelis using this sort of language to describe their own murderous rampage is chilling enough. But politicians instructing troops to become judge, jury and executioner, taking pleasure in committing outrages, and no longer seeing a supposed "enemy" as human? Just incredible.
The army, commenting on the report in the Maariv daily, said Israeli forces had targeted "checkpoints manned by Palestinian policemen who facilitated the passage and actively assisted ... terrorists" who killed civilians and soldiers.
Two former commandos, their names withheld, told Maariv that after Palestinian militants killed six Israeli soldiers at a checkpoint near Ramallah in February 2002, they were told to attack Palestinian-run checkpoints elsewhere in the West Bank.
"'We are going to liquidate Palestinian policemen at a checkpoint in revenge for our six soldiers that they killed'," one ex-commando, quoted his commander as saying. He added that "the feeling was that this would be 'an eye for an eye.'"
The report was the latest public challenge to Israel's official insistence that its forces have abided by a strict code of ethics in battling a 4-1/2-year-old Palestinian uprising.
In a statement, the army said that at the time, it had been "instructed by the political echelon to change the mode of operation and adjust it to the harsh reality on the ground."
That entailed "hunting down all those involved in terror activities, including members of the Palestinian Authority security apparatus" until the PA prevented "terror attacks emanating from Palestinian towns and cities," the army said.
The other interviewee described taking part in a raid on a group of Palestinian policemen drinking coffee at a checkpoint near where the Israeli soldiers had been ambushed.
"The moment we knew we were going to eliminate them, we no longer saw them as human," the ex-commando, now a student, said.
He said that after the first volley felled the Palestinians, he delivered a coup-de-grace to one of them, a man in his 50s.
"It was the first time I had killed and the first time I saw someone die. It was simply a pleasurable day," the former commando said.