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Text testimonies “Shoot, shoot everywhere”
catalog number: 757654
Unit: Infantry
Area: Northern Gaza strip
period: 2014
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“Shoot, shoot everywhere”
Unit: Infantry
Area: Northern Gaza strip
period: 2014

Any fire by the assistance forces goes through a system of authorization. You get on the two-way radio and ask for approval. Most were approved – for us especially, since we were the first to enter [the Gaza Strip]. The commander gets on the radio, says, “There’s this building here,” the threat is assessed, it’s stated, and then comes the authorization. If there’s a hint of concern in someone’s voice – that’s justification for anything. That’s a deciding factor in any judgment call. Approval is clearly necessary if someone comes up on the radio and you can hear shots in the background, and there’s a terrorist. If someone is coming under fire, it’s 100% certain authorization [to open fire] will be granted. Besides that, if there’s a building that poses a threat, if you say, “I feel threatened by that tall building, I want it either smoke-screened or taken down,” then it’s deemed a target, located on the maps, they get on the radio with the brigade and report it. The feeling was that it’s all very much up to the guys on the ground – however they describe the situation to the level of oversight – the response will be in line. If [the soldiers on the ground] say “That building needs to be taken down, it poses a severe threat to my forces,” it will be shelled. In the beginning, we weren’t granted authorization if there was any fear of [harming] civilians. In the beginning there was a lot of concern about the media and that stuff. But it’s all very subject to change because you’ve got drones, and when the artillery coordination officer raises a request [to the brigade], they sit down together and look at the visuals from the drone, and ask military intelligence, “Does anybody know anything about this?” And then say, “Yes, you can go ahead and fire.” As long as there wasn’t any concrete information that [shooting a specific target] would be harmful to us – it’s “fire away.” But the more time that passed [since the operation started], the more immediate authorizations became. The rules of engagement for soldiers advancing on the ground were: open fire, open fire everywhere, first thing when you go in. The assumption being that the moment we went in [to the Gaza Strip], anyone who dared poke his head out was a terrorist. And it pretty much stayed that way throughout the operation. As long as you don’t violate the perimeter of another force’s zone – in other words, risk friendly fire – you are allowed to open fire.