Israeli Army Accused
Of Cruelty

By Chris McGreal
The Guardian - UK

JERUSALEM -- A leading Israeli human rights group has accused Israeli soldiers of "malicious and cruel" treatment of Palestinians and the military leadership of indifference to widespread abuses. The Association of Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) issued its annual report yesterday with denunciations of violence by Palestinian groups and the army during the intifada, but the spotlight fell on the Israeli military.
"Most of the abuses occur not as a result of operational necessity on the part of the army, but from vindictiveness on the part of soldiers, who receive implicit approval to denigrate the dignity, life and liberty of innocent Palestinians," it says.
The report notes that in the year to June, the military's "targeted assassination" policy killed 80 alleged militants but 90 innocents also died in the process.
The ACRI is also strongly critical of the hundreds of Israeli army roadblocks. It states that they are intended as a collective punishment, rather than to prevent bombings as the army claims.
The report also lists numerous individual abuses by troops, including a case in which a soldier carved a Star of David on a Palestinian's arm. It concludes that the military's failure to prosecute encourages further abuses.
The army issued a written statement rejecting the charge. "The opposite is true," it said.
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