For weeks, the Israeli government has dismissed widespread allegations that its soldiers committed war crimes in Gaza.
Now Israel is facing serious and specific allegations from soldiers who fought in Gaza and say they killed civilians under permissive rules of engagement in which all Gazans were essentially treated as threats.
The allegations from the soldiers are unfolding in Israeli newspapers that got hold of transcripts of talks by soldiers who described shooting unarmed women and children, vandalizing Palestinian homes and lax rules of engagement.
"There was a lot of thirst for blood," one Israeli commander said.
The allegations have already created a furor in Israel and the Israeli military has opened an investigation into two specificclaims that Israeli soldiers killed two women and two children trying to escape the fighting.
"When statements came only from Palestinian witnesses or 'the hostile press,' it was possible to dismiss them as propaganda that served the enemy," Haaretz journalist Amos Harel wrote in his analysis of the allegations. "But what can be done when the soldiers themselves tell the story?"
Haaretz says it will publish the full transcripts on Friday...