The Ghosts of Gaza: Israel’s Soldier Suicides

Source: The Daily Beast:

Were Israeli soldiers so haunted by what they saw and did in the last Gaza war that they took their own lives? What role did their zealous commander play?

HAIFA, Israel—More than two months after the end of Israel’s latest offensive in Gaza, Operation Protective Edge, its consequences are still being felt in Israeli society. While the Palestinian territory where the war was waged lies in ruins, for some of the Israelis who fought there the devastation that lingers is in the mind.

In the weeks after Israel and Hamas agreed to an open-ended ceasefire, three Israeli soldiers decided to end their lives with their own weapons. And what was especially striking about their suicides was that all served in the same unit, the Givati Brigade, which had a reputation for its ruthless ferocity, considerable bravery, and the use of Old Testament religiosity to justify the merciless operations of its commander, Colonel Ofer Winter.

The unit spent most of its time in Gaza close to the border with Israel in an area the Israel Defense Forces set out to make a wide buffer zone consuming more than 40 percent of Gaza’s territory. Fighters from Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and other groups did not fall back. Instead they operated out of a vast network of tunnels, and the combat was as ferocious as any the IDF has seen for many years. But the Givati Brigade drew particular attention because of its alleged responsibility for widespread civilian casualties.

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Categories: Asia

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