Following the release of damning testimony by soldiers and officers who took part in Operation Cast Lead at the beginning of 2009, which told of unethical, if not criminal, conduct on the part of the military, the IDF announced on Thursday that it was launching an investigation into the matter. In a statement released by the IDF Spokesperson's Office, the IDF Military Advocate General, Brig. Gen. Avichai Mendelblit was said to have instructed the Criminal Investigation Division of the IDF Military Police to investigate the soldiers' claims. The testimonies included reports of shooting at people known to be non-combatants, evacuating families to zones the military had defined as no-entry zones and therefore would open fire at any person entering, acts of vandalism and abuse of humanitarian aid. The testimonies were given during a gathering at the Rabin Pre-Military Academy about a month ago and were alter published in an academy pamphlet. An IAF pilot and infantry soldiers participated in the gathering. Most participants said commands from higher echelons who were not present in the theater were sometimes taken as almost unlimited license to act as the soldiers in the field saw fit. One soldier recounted an incident in which a squadron commander ordered a family to leave its house, go out to the street and turn right. "One mother and her kids didn't understand and they turned left... [the commander] forgot to tell the sniper on the roof that [the family] was released and that he should hold fire so he... you can say he did what he should have, according to instructions... the sniper sees a woman and children coming at him and crossing no entry limits, so straight away, he fired at them. "I don't know if he fired at their legs first, but eventually they died. I don't know if he felt too bad. After all, he was just doing his job." Another testimony described wholesale destruction of Palestinians' property: "We just threw everything through the window in order to make room. The entire house's contents just flew out: Fridge, plates, furniture. The order was to extract the house's contents." Infantrymen described an unusually high intervention by both IDF and non-military rabbis in the fighting, including distribution of booklets and pamphlets which described the war in religious terminology. "All the articles had one clear message," one soldier said. "We are the people of Israel, we arrived in the country almost by miracle, now we need to fight to uproot the gentiles who interfere with re-conquering the Holy Land... many soldiers' feelings were that this was a war of religion." The quotes from soldiers in the gathering recount the troops' individual interpretation of events and do not represent official IDF policy. The head of the academy, Dani Zamir, a retired officer, turned to the office of the chief of staff and presented it with the material. Initially, the military said no testimonies similar to the ones collected by Zamir were collected by the army's internal documentation departments. But the IDF Spokesperson's Office issued a statement saying the matter would be looked into in depth. The IDF's Chief Education Officer Brig. Gen. Eli Shermeister told Zamir that the military conducted ethical and operational briefings to soldiers before, during and after the operation, in order to instill in soldiers the ethical aspects of the campaign, but would re-examine its findings in light of Zamir's report. Defense Minister Ehud Barak told Israel Radio that he was certain the IDF would examine the findings "with all necessary seriousness." "I still say we have the most moral army in the world. I have seen what happened in Yugoslavia, I read reports of incidents in Afghanistan and Iraq, and I nevertheless maintain that ours is the most moral military. Of course there may be exceptions [in the conduct of some soldiers and officers] but I have absolutely no doubt this will be inspected on a case-by-case basis," the defense minister said. IDF orders probe of Cast Lead accounts | Israel | Jerusalem Post Say.. WHO ELSE WAS JUST DOING THEIR JOB IN GERMANY?