A report has revealed that Israel sought to completely destroy Palestinian neighborhoods in the Gaza Strip during its war on the coastal enclave by the turn of 2008.
The report published on Sunday by the British daily Telegraph indicates that Israeli commanders used to "psych up" soldiers before an operation so that they were ready to shoot indiscriminately.
"The order was very clear that if a car came within 200 meters of me I could simply shoot at it. Shoot a shell at it," the report says, quoting Ohad, an Israeli tank commander, who cited ‘unambiguous’ orders to use "disproportionate" force during the Gaza onslaught.
"We needed to cleanse the neighborhoods, the buildings, the area. It sounds really terrible to say ‘cleanse’, but those were the orders….I don’t want to make a mistake with the words," he added.
Tel Aviv staged an all-out war on the densely populated coastal sliver three days before the turn of 2009. Twenty-two days of land, sea and air strikes left more than 1,400 Palestinians, including at least 300 children, dead and nearly 5,000 more injured.
The offensive leveled 4,000 houses in the blockaded territory and devastated a large portion of infrastructure. The war also saw targeting of UN-run schools and centers by Israeli army forces.
More than 50,000 people were displaced as a result of the three-week war.
In September 2009, a UN fact-finding team released a report, accusing Israeli military forces of war crimes against the Palestinians during the offensive.
The report accused Israel of deliberate attacks on the civilian population of Gaza and of willful destruction of civilian infrastructure, a violation of international law.