Judge Advocate General Brig.-Gen. Avichai Mandelblit exonerated the IDF on Monday and decided to close a Military Police investigation into accounts of alleged misconduct and serious human rights violations during Operation Cast Lead in the Gaza Strip earlier this year. Mandelblit decided to launch the investigation last week after "testimonies" from soldiers were leaked to the media by head of the Rabin Pre-Military Academy Danny Zamir claiming that soldiers had targeted and deliberately shot and killed innocent Palestinians during the operation in Gaza in January. On Monday, the IDF said that the so-called "testimonies" raised at an academy conference were rumors and purposely exaggerated in order to make a point to the participants at the conference. The "testimonies" were reported widely in the international media appearing, for example, on the front page of the New York Times. In particular, the results of the investigation referred to a testimony from a soldier named Aviv, who claimed to have been given orders to fire at an elderly Palestinian woman. During his interrogation, the IDF said, Aviv admitted to never witnessing such an incident and to basing his statement on a rumor he had heard. In an unrelated investigation, it was found that in a similar incident, a woman suspected of being a suicide bomber approached IDF troops, who opened fired at her after repeatedly trying to stop her from advancing. Aviv admitted that he had not witnessed additional incidents he had described during the conference. A claim made by a different soldier, Ram, who had supposedly been ordered to open fire at a woman and two children, was also found by the probe to be false. After checking the claim, it was found that IDF troops had opened fire in a different direction, toward two suspicious men who were unrelated to the civilians in question. The army also stressed that soldiers at the academy conference admitted to basing their claims relating on the use of phosphorous munitions during the operation according to what they had heard in the media and not from personal experience or knowledge. Mandelblit said it was "unfortunate" that none of the speakers at the conference were careful to be accurate in their claims and that they chose to present various incidents of a severe nature, even though they did not personally witness the incidents. "It seems that it will be difficult to evaluate the damage done to the image and morals of the IDF and its soldiers who participated in Operation Cast Lead, in Israel and the world," he concluded. IDF: Case closed on Gaza testimonies | Israel | Jerusalem Post as if THIS wasn't predictable!