US General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said that Israel went through “extraordinary lengths” to prevent civilian casualties during the summer war in the Gaza Strip, Reuters reported.
Speaking Thursday during a forum at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in New York City, Dempsey acknowledged recent reports accusing Israel of war crimes for civilian deaths during the war but said that the Israel Defense Forces “did what they could” to avoid the casualties.
“I actually think that Israel went to extraordinary lengths to limit collateral damage and civilian casualties,” the genera stated. “In this kind of conflict, where you are held to a standard that your enemy is not held to, you’re going to be criticized for civilian casualties.”
Dempsey added that while Hamas terror tunnels “caused the IDF some significant challenges,” the military “did some extraordinary things to limit civilian casualties, to include…making it known that they were going to destroy a particular structure.”
One of the more impressive methods that Israel utilized to prevent civilian deaths was, according to the general, the “roof-knocking method.” Before a targeted strike, the Israeli Air Force would launch a dud rocket onto the roof of the structure, giving fair warning to those inside to evacuate.
Dempsey also mentioned the vast efforts of the military of dropping warning leaflets over areas in Gaza before any type of operation in order to save civilian lives.
“The IDF is not interested in creating civilian casualties,” Dempsey argued. “They’re interested in stopping the shooting of rockets and missiles out of the Gaza Strip and into Israel.”
Dempsey added that an American delegation was sent to Israel three months ago to learn important lessons from Israel on how to minimize civilian casualties during war. The general said that the US military is looking “to include the measures they [Israel] took to prevent civilian casualties and what they did with tunneling.”
Dempsey’s comments come in sharp contrast to a recent report published by Amnesty International accusing Israel of war crimes during the 50-day conflict with Hamas. The report accused Israel of “callous indifference” while carrying out attacks in Gaza as well as purposely targeting civilian homes.
“Israeli forces killed scores of Palestinian civilians in attacks targeting houses full of families, which in some cases have amounted to war crimes,” the report stated.
Amnesty’s director for the Middle East and North Africa, Philip Luther, said that Israel showed a “shocking disregard for the lives of Palestinian civilians” and failed to give “no warning” of incoming military operations.
The report made small mention of war crimes committed by Hamas and other terror organizations.
Israel rejected the findings of the reports, saying that the IDF went through great lengths to save as many lives as possible. Israel’s Foreign Ministry said that the report provided “no evidence” to back up its claims and accused Amnesty of being a “propaganda tool for Hamas.”