Colonel (res.) Bentzi Gruber, a deputy commander of an Israel Defense Forces division, was at a training base in Tze'elim last week. His wife called to tell him that he had received a letter from Spain, which didn't particularly surprise him. But when she opened the envelope, she was shocked.
"Unfortunately, I've gotten used to curses and scathing words against me, but when such a thing arrives at your doorstep, it's very unpleasant," he tells Ynet.
Gruber is just one of the officers who received a threatening poster from Spain, after his name appeared on a website
referring to IDF soldiers involved in Operation Cast Lead
as "war criminals".
The poster includes a picture of a young child buried in the sand. His head is the only thing sticking out and he appears to be dead. Two hands in the background, apparently belonging to a soldier, are directed at him. The picture's caption reads, "How will you explain this to God?'
The letter was sent in an envelope from Madrid to the homes of Colonel (res.) Gruber and several other IDF officers, including Central Command Chief Avi Mizrahi and outgoing Military Intelligence Director Amos Yadlin. Some of the posters include a picture of an injured or dead young woman being held by a soldier. The English sentence is similar.
The army does not know at this stage the exact number of letters sent to the officers' home. The website included dozens of addresses of IDF officers, most of whom are believed to have received such letters.
"When my wife told me what it was all about, I felt bad," recounts Colonel (res.) Gruber, an Armored Corps officer who played an active role in the Gaza operation due to his senior position. "It's disgusting. It's really unpleasant when such a thing reaches your doorstep, but it won't make me stop doing what I do."
Since the end of the Gaza operation, Gruber has delivered more than 150 lectures in many countries on the IDF's activity and ethical code. He admits that he has been met with curses and signs reading "wanted" quite a few times.
"I've gotten used to this attitude in some places, but such a letter is much more difficult to deal with," he says.
Gruber's exact home address appeared on the same website that was later removed. The letter was signed by "Rodriguez", and the address is handwritten on the envelope.
"There's no doubt that it could get worse," the reserve officer says. "It might even result in real harm to one of the officers. I've been thinking about it a lot. I'm supposed to travel to the United States for a series of lectures, and this is something that cannot be ignored. It's extremely troubling."
After Operation Cast Lead, the army placed a gag on the identity of brigade commander for fear of legal proceedings against them. The prohibition was lifted later on, but fears that the information will be misused remain.
The IDF is also checking whether the details published on the website were revealed by a military source. Officials estimate, however, that the information was collected on the Web and did not originate in the army.
"The phenomenon of classifying IDF officers as 'war criminals' is unacceptable, and it's even worse when their homes and relatives are targeted with this filth. We must do all we can to back this officers, while working to reduce this phenomenon," says a senior military source.