Israeli soldiers have described the use of "permissive" rules of engagement that cost civilian lives during the recent military campaign in Gaza.
The troops said they had been urged to fire on any building or person that seemed suspicious and said civilians were sometimes used as human shields.
Breaking the Silence, a campaign group made up of Israeli soldiers, gathered anonymous accounts from 26 soldiers.
Israel denies breaking the laws of war and dismissed the report as hearsay.
Breaking the Silence described most of the testimonies of soldiers who took part in Operation Cast Lead as "sober, regretful and shocked".
Many of the testimonies are in line with claims made by human-rights organisations that Israeli military action in Gaza was indiscriminate and disproportionate.
According to testimonies from the 14 conscripts and 12 reserve soldiers:
• Rules of engagement were either unclear or encouraged soldiers to do their utmost to protect their own lives whether or not Palestinian civilians were harmed.
• Civilians were used as human shields, entering buildings ahead of soldiers
• Large swathes of homes and buildings were demolished. Accounts say that this was often done because the houses might be booby-trapped, or cover tunnels. Testimony mentioned a policy referred to as "the day after", whereby areas near the border where razed to make future military operations easier
Israeli soldiers deployed on the Israel-Gaza border 28 Decmeber 2008
Soldier testimonies appear to contradict official Israeli statements
• Some of the troops had a generally aggressive, ill-disciplined attitude
• There was incidents of vandalism of property of Palestinians
• Soldiers fired at water tanks because they were bored, at a time of severe water shortages for Gazans
• White phosphorus was used in civilian areas in a way some soldiers saw as gratuitous and reckless
• Many of the soldiers said there had been very little direct engagement with Palestinian militants
The report says Israeli troops and the people who justify their actions are "slid[ing] together down the moral slippery slope". Read more...