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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Soldiers Feel No RegretAt Shelling Of UN Base

JERUSALEM -- Israeli gunners said the shelling of a UN base at Qana, south Lebanon was a mistake but they had no regrets over killing more than 100 civilians sheltering there because they were "just a bunch of Arabs."


A soldier identified as Sergeant "Y" was quoted by the Jerusalem weekly Kol Ha'ir as saying: "It's a war, in a war these things happen ... It's just a bunch of Arabs."


"Y," in his reference to Arabs, used the Hebrew derogatory term "Arabushim," which has no English equivalent.


The soldiers said they were firing at guerrillas near the UN camp and that it had been a mistake to hit the camp where hundreds of refugees were sheltering.


An official army statement issued Friday in reaction to the report questioned its accuracy.


"It is impossible to know whether this is an accurate version or a distorted hearsay testimony," the statement said.


"Either way, anonymous comments by one speaker or another don't change the fact the tragic shooting was done by mistake since the army didn't know there were civilians at the Qana camp."


A UN report this week said it appeared unlikely the slaughter was by accident. The report, issued Tuesday, said the shelling of Qana, where 800 Lebanese civilians had taken shelter, was unlikely to have been the result of gross technical or procedural errors, as Israel maintained, though that could not be completely ruled out.


Another soldier from the artillery battery told the weekly the commander gathered his troops after the shelling for a talk.


"He told us, 'This is war. For God's sake, [they] are shooting at you. What are you going to do?' He said we were shooting well and to continue this way, and that Arabs, you know, there are millions of them," the soldier, identified as "A," was quoted as saying.