General Yitzhak Pundak commander of Givati Brigade 53rd Battalion justifies war crimes committed during the Nakba.
On Thursday June 13, 2013 in an interview on IDF Radio the commander of the 53rd Battalion of the Givati Brigade, Yitzhak Pundak, confirmed that forces under his command ethnically cleansed Palestinian villages in 1948.
The following day, June 14th, the Associated Press broke a story that’s spread like wildfire accusing 94 year old Ukrainian immigrant Michael Karkoc, an American citizen and Minnesota resident since 1949 of being a Nazi war criminal who commanded a unit of the Ukrainian Self Defense Legion responsible for committing atrocities during World War II.
Israel National News has the story – Nazi Commander Found Living in the United States:
The Associated Press has uncovered that a top commander of a Nazi SS-led unit, accused of burning villages filled with women and children, lied to American immigration officials to get into the United States.
The evidence uncovered by the news agency on Friday finds that Michael Karkoc, 94, has been living in Minnesota since shortly after World War II.
Efraim Zuroff, the director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Jerusalem, said that based on his decades of experience pursuing Nazi war criminals, he expects that the evidence showing Karkoc lied to American officials and that his unit carried out atrocities is strong enough for deportation and war-crimes prosecution in Germany or Poland.
“In America this is a relatively easy case: If he was the commander of a unit that carried out atrocities, that’s a no brainer,” Zuroff told AP. “Even in Germany … if the guy was the commander of the unit, then even if they can’t show he personally pulled the trigger, he bears responsibility.”
Minneapolis’s NBC affiliate KARE 11: Karkoc case brings Ukrainian fighters back into focus
“This was a unit of volunteers, and people were volunteering ideologically not because they were Nazis but because they were Ukrainian nationalists,” Ofer Ashkenazi, an expert on modern European history at Hebrew University told KARE.
Ashkenazi, who is a visiting professor at the University of Minnesota, said the Ukrainian fighters hoped to shake off Soviet oppression and sided with the Germans after being told the country would regain its autonomy.
“They formed these units under the command of the SS, or the Waffen-SS, and basically did whatever the SS wanted them to do.”
The AP story maintains Karkoc eventually became an officer in the SS Galician Division, which was formed from remnants of the Self Defense Legion in the closing year of the war.
The AP’s investigation found no record that Karkoc directly committed any war crimes, but said he commanded a unit that was known to massacre civilians in Poland.
And here’s Israel National News reporting on former Israeli general Yitzhak Pundak:
Brig. Gen. (res.) Yitzhak Pundak: If we hadn’t done it, there would be a million more Arabs and there would be no Israel………when asked if he feels proud of his country, he said that his pride runs “as high as the rooftop.”
Mondoweiss commenter Hostage sent along this note “It’s a good thing that the Simon Wiesenthal Center and the AP aren’t investigating Zionist war criminals, eh?”.
I’ll say. Curiously, aside from the Israel National News, there’s not a peep anywhere in the press about the Givati Brigade general’s revelations on the radio Thursday. Nothing about war crimes committed during the Nakba, his justifications, his pride, or…. anything.