Matti Friedman
The Statesman
November 19, 2010 - 1:00am

Israel's military on Friday condemned the publication of names and photographs of 200 Israeli soldiers on a website that called them "war criminals."

Militants in Gaza, meanwhile, fired rockets at southern Israel, causing no casualties, but sparking retaliatory Israeli air strikes that wounded five.

The website also published the home addresses and ID numbers of many of the Israelis. They included senior commanders and low-ranking soldiers who the site claimed participated in the three-week offensive Israel launched in Gaza in late 2008.

The accuracy of the published details could not be confirmed. A statement from the Israel Defense Forces said the military "deplores the publication of personal details of hundreds of IDF soldiers and officers, without any factual basis whatsoever."

The military said, however, that the information "poses no real threat to those whose names ended up on the list."

It was put up earlier this week by anonymous activists in Britain and hosted by a U.S.-based Web service, which took it down by Friday citing "breach of terms," according to the Israeli daily Haaretz.

The website said the information came from an anonymous source who was "presumably" serving in the Israeli military. The military is investigating the possibility that the information was leaked by a soldier, according to a report in the daily Maariv.

"The people listed here held positions of command at the time of the attack," the website said, "therefore, not only did they perform on behalf of a murderous state mechanism but actively encouraged other people to do the same."

It also included what appeared to be an implied threat to harm the soldiers, urging readers, to "do your bit so that this virtual list may come to bear upon the physical."

Israel began its Gaza offensive in December 2008, after years of intense rocket fire from the coastal strip ruled by the Iran-backed militant group Hamas. The fighting devastated the crowded Palestinian territory, killing around 1,400 people, most of them civilians, according to Palestinian and international human rights groups. Thirteen Israelis were killed.

In Britain and elsewhere in Europe, anti-Israeli activists have sought to use the principle of universal jurisdiction to pursue past and current Israeli officials linked to military operations that killed civilians. No cases have gone ahead, but Israeli officials have canceled trips abroad over concerns they could be arrested. The matter was discussed during a visit by Britain's foreign secretary to Israel earlier this month.

The Gaza offensive sharply reduced the rocket fire but did not end it entirely.

Early on Friday, Gaza militants fired a Grad rocket into southern Israel as well as seven mortar shells and crude homemade rockets, causing light damage and no casualties.

Militants usually fire mortar shells or rockets they manufacture themselves and only rarely use military-grade projectiles like the relatively powerful rocket launched early on Friday.

None of the armed groups in Gaza immediately claimed responsibility for the attack.

Hamas police in Gaza said Israel carried out three retaliatory airstrikes in Friday afternoon, one of which targeted a militant training facility, lightly injuring at least five Palestinians, some of them militants.

The Israeli military said in a statement that it had targeted "three terror sites in the Gaza Strip." The air raids were carried out in reaction to the Palestinian "firing of rockets at Israel's southern communities."


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