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Group posts photographs it says show misconduct by Israeli soldiers

By the CNN Wire Staff
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The images were reportedly taken during an Israeli offensive in Gaza that began in late 2008
  • They reportedly show soldiers of the IDF vandalizing a wall, posing with potential detainees
  • The IDF says "anomalous incidents are investigated"
RELATED TOPICS
  • Israeli Defense Forces
  • Gaza
  • Hamas

(CNN) -- An Israeli rights group has posted three photographs it says show misconduct by soldiers of the Israel Defense Forces during a three-week offensive in Gaza in 2008 and 2009.

Breaking the Silence, an organization of former soldiers that works to expose what it says are the under-reported costs of sending young soldiers to the West Bank and Gaza, published the images on its Facebook page Sunday.

The group says the images were likely taken during the course of Operation Cast Lead, a three-week Israeli offensive in the Gaza Strip that ended in January 2009.

In one image, a solider is seen pointing a rifle at what appears to be a possible Palestinian detainee, who is blindfolded. In another, a solider is posing with his weapon in the kitchen of a home where a woman appears to be preparing food. A third photograph shows a solider using spray paint to draw the star of David on a wall, along with a message written in Hebrew: "We'll be back."

The faces of the soldiers are blacked out in all the images.

"Our fight is to let people know that this is a norm -- that these things are very widespread and common in all units that serve in the territory," said Yehuda Shaul, who heads Breaking the Silence. "We believe that our society needs to be told the truth."

He said all indications point to that the images were taken during Operation Cast Lead, but that the organization cannot be 100 percent certain. Breaking the Silence has more photographs like these and will release them from time to time, he added.

"Anyone who served is not really shocked by these images because this is something we are used to seeing," said Shaul.

His group did not identify the source or sources of the photos.

Gaza is run by Hamas, the Palestinian Islamist movement that is considered a terrorist organization by the United States, Israel and the European Union.

Israel launched Operation Cast Lead in late December 2008 to stop Hamas and other militant groups from firing rockets into the southern parts of the country, the military said. Conflicting death tolls from the operation have fueled debate and controversy.

The Israel Defense Forces expressed regret that Breaking the Silence posted the photographs publicly rather than contact the IDF directly.

"As in all previous cases, anomalous incidents are investigated by the Military Investigative Police," the IDF said in a statement. "The IDF stresses that in no way, shape or form do pictures such as these reflect the values that the soldiers and commanders who fill our ranks are taught beginning with basic training and up through the most senior level courses."

CNN's Kareem Khadder and Kevin Flower contributed to this report.

 
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