Israel condemns naming of 200 IDF soldiers on website

Names, photographs, addresses and ID numbers of commanders and soldiers claimed to have taken part in 2008 Gaza offensive are posted on US web service.

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

Alongside the photographs, the site 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 Defence 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 name ended up on the list."

It was put up earlier this week by anonymous activists in Britain and hosted by a US-based web service, which took it down by today, claiming "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 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 cancelled 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 today, Gaza militants fired a military-grade rocket into southern Israel, causing light damage and no casualties.

Militants usually fire mortar shells or small rockets they manufacture themselves and only rarely use military-grade projectiles like the relatively powerful Grad launched today.

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