In a new report, Israeli soldiers described situations where their military’s rules of engagement went horribly wrong

Gaza strip israeli air strike
Smoke and flames are seen following what police said was an Israeli air strike in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip July 8, 2014 Ibraheem Abu Mustafa/Reuters

An Israeli drone strike killed two Palestinian women armed only with cell phones, a new report alleges.

The 2014 attack, which occurred in a Gaza Strip orchard, was detailed along with dozens of other, similar incidents in a series of testimonies from Israeli soldiers published by Breaking the Silence, an Israeli organisation that collects first-hand accounts from Israeli soldiers involved in conflicts with Palestinians.

According to an unidentified soldier cited in the report, the two women were first spotted about half a mile from an Israeli patrol during Operation Protective Edge, a 2014 campaign against militants firing rockets into Israel from the Gaza Strip.

“They were two young women … The lookouts couldn’t see well so the commander sent a drone up to look from above, and the drone implicated them,” said the soldier.

“They directed fire there, on those girls, and they were killed,” the soldier continued. “After they were implicated, I had a feeling it was bulls — t.”

Three tanks soon checked the dead women. They were unarmed, but were still listed as “terrorists” by the soldiers on hand, according to the report.

“They were fired at — so of course, they must have been terrorists,” the soldier said.

This is one of a number of incidents described by the dozens of soldiers that Breaking the Silence says came forward to detail potential Israeli abuses during Protective Edge. The operation lasted 50 days and killed 2,100 Palestinians, with civilians accounting for between 50% and 80% of the death toll.

“What the hell, why did you have to shoot him again?”

In a separate incident, a soldier recalled seeing a guard fire a warning shot at an elderly Palestinian man before being shot twice in the leg by a separate soldier.

“I went up to a window to see what was going on out there, and I saw there was an old man lying on the ground, he was shot in his leg and he was wounded,” said the soldier. “It was horrible, the wound was horrible, and he looked either dead or unconscious to me.”

The soldiers then began arguing about whether he was dead or alive — and whether to continue shooting him.

“What makes you an expert on death? What are you, some doctor?” The soldier remembers being asked.

“After that, some guy from the company went out and shot that man again, and that, for me, was the last straw,” he continued. “I don’t think there was a single guy in my platoon who wasn’t shocked by that. It’s not like we’re a bunch of leftists, but — why?

“Like, what the hell, why did you have to shoot him again?”

In at least once instance, a neighbourhood was “reduced to piles of powdered sand,” another soldier claimed.

The testimonies were released Monday morning just hours after a “60 Minutes” report showed horrific scenes from the aftermath of Protective Edge.

Of the 2,100 Palestinians killed during last summer’s Israeli military operations, more than 500 were children, according to “60 Minutes.”

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