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israeli peace rally cancelled

Israeli left cancels anti-war rally at behest of police

Yesterday, a united Israeli left was supposed to hold a major anti-war rally under the banner of “Changing the Direction Toward Peace: No to the Way of War, a Political Solution is Necessary.”  Among the participants were Peace Now, Meretz, Hadash and other liberal-left groups and parties. But a funny thing happened.  Tel Aviv police told the event organizers that the Home Front Command had forbidden gatherings in the city of greater than a thousand people.  This was supposedly to protect Tel Avivans from being struck by Hamas rockets.  On the strength of this refusal, the political parties decided to postpone the rally.

shimri segal meretz attack on peace activists

Shimri Segal’s attack on Tel Aviv peace protesters

Haggai Matar notes in his article for Mekomit that there were many other events last night in Tel Aviv that attracted even greater crowds than the thousands expected at the peace rally.  Yet somehow they weren’t cancelled as well.  A curious case of selective use of police power to repress inconvenient political expression.

This dysfunction and lack of will is emblematic of the sickness in the soul of the Israeli soft left.  It doesn’t know what it wants, doesn’t know how to get there, and caves at the first sign of rightist opposition.

shimri segal

Shimri Segal

But there were 500 hearty souls who would not be deterred by the refusal of the police.  They marched anyway.  They did so peaceably and wonder of wonders–the police didn’t interfere!  Imagine if the organizers of the original event had stood their ground.  What might have happened then?  Imagine displaying a left that couldn’t be cowed by the security apparatus?

But Shimri Segal, a Knesset aide to Meretz MK Nitzan Horowitz, published a curious diatribe on his Facebook account (since removed but saved for posterity here) which blamed the protesters who demonstrated last night for promoting “violence” instead of peace:

The peace rally which had been planned was postponed.  In its place, people came to the Square supporting armed struggle.

I’ve never understood people who think that violence can solve violence [sic].  I don’t understand it when I see it from the talking heads in TV studios nor when I hear [it from] radicals at a rally in the Square.

We will fill the Square soon with cries for solidarity, opposition to violence, and a demand for peace.

Watch the video and tell me where you see violence.  What disturbed Segal no doubt was the slogan and placards at the rally which called for an end to U.S. military aid to Israel (“U.S. Arms, Israel Kills”) and an end to the Gaza siege.  No doubt cutting off U.S. military aid to Israel could tar the soft left with the brush of being anti-Israel.  So in that sense, cutting off arms to Israel might not allow Israel to ‘defend’ itself (or drop bombs on Gazan babies, depending on your view of the matter).  So you could make an argument (a rather feeble one) that U.S. arms prevent violence against Israel.

Another factor that likely disturbs Segal is that a real left ignored the warning and threats of the security forces and took a brave stance that made freedom of speech a meaningful value in the Israeli context.  The left of political parties, beholden to their sinecures in Knesset, bowed and scraped before the powerful and the police.

After attempting to contact Nitzan Horowitz in several different ways to ask for his comment on his aide’s remarks, instead he forwarded my e mail to Segal, who replied:

I didnt blame Israeli peace activists for promoting violence in Gaza. What i did write, I wrote as a private person.

So the opening remarks in the FB post announcing postponement of the Meretz rally were official.  But the words following in the next paragraph which condemned the “radical” left for fomenting violence were not official.  Are you following?

H/t to Talkaholic.

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samson toppling temple

Samson and Ofer Winter toppling the “gates of Gaza.”

I’ve recounted in several posts here, the exploits of IDF Col. Ofer Winter, commander of the Givati Brigade.  In army lore, he should go down as “Samson, slayer of Philistines,” because he wrote publicly and acted militarily as if he was re-enacting the Samson story and inflicting Biblical vengeance on the latter-day enemies of the people of Israel.

The mythical-historical Samson was a Nazirite (a Joan of Arc-figure endowed with mythical powers) enslaved by the Philistines after Delilah cut his hair and drained his strength.  As any Hebrew or Sunday school child knows, Samson, who’d also been blinded by his captors, waited for the moment when the Philistines held a banquet at which they featured him as the entertaining clown of the evening.  It was at that moment, as they ridiculed him, when Samson regained his strength and toppled the pillars of the pagan temple, taking his enemies down with him.

This is the sort of latter-day Jewish heroism Winter was summoning in the Order of Battle he published just before the ground invasion began.  In a holy war, there is no morality.  Morality is a secular concept.  In such a war, there is only the Lord and His commands, which follow their own sacred code.

That’s why Winter could call on his troops to kill Lt. Hadar Goldin when they couldn’t prevent his capture.  The Hannibal Directive, despite gussying it up in the moral philosophical precepts of Asa Kasher, is a directive to kill captive soldiers so that they won’t hold the entire nation ransom if they’re held hostage by the enemy.

In response to Goldin’s capture, Winter unleashed the hell-hounds of war on the people of Rafah.  Winter is a genuine IDF war criminal.

This riveting Haaretz article by Yagil Levy (not yet translated into English), recounts some of his barbaric military acts following that.  Keep in mind as you read it that “Palestinian” and “Philistine” are almost interchangeable in Hebrew, and settler religious ultra-nationalists deliberately invoke the Bibilical term to conjure Palestinians as latter-day enemies of the nation of Israel:

Givati Brigade Battles Philistines 

The order of battle which the Givati Commander Ofer Winter published at the beginning of Operation Protective Edge aroused a public furor.  There were those who claimed that it should be impossible for someone who represented the battle in Gaza as a religious war–which declared the enemy to be “defamers, abusers and defilers of the God of Israel’s battle campaigns”–to continue in his military position.

…It’s important to remember, in any event, that we’re not speaking of a document having only abstract religious significance.  The perspective of religious war [in the Order of Battle by Winter] guided the Givati brigade on a tactical [practical] level as well.

During battleground tours with journalists of Hirbet Ahza’a [more properly, Khuza'a], hundreds of meters into the depths of Gaza, Winter pointed to a mosque destroyed by an air attack.  The mosque had been destroyed by the directive of Winter in order to neutralize fire that came from it, after Winter rejected the possibility of attacking it with a [less damaging] ground missile rather than an air-to-ground missile.

“Did you see it [the mosque]?” asked Winter pointing to the mosque.  “This was once a mosque.”  He said this giddily, without any hint of guilt, sorrow or apology as he strode through the ruins of the village, whose 13,000 residents were expelled according to the army’s [Winter's] orders.  He continued, saying with pride…: “When I said to you Ahza’a [Khuza'a] once looked different, I was referring to this [the mosque].”

In conversation with another reporter, Winter was proud of the steps he took to protect the lives of his soldiers: a shell or a missile hit every house before his soldiers entered.  These things weren’t presented as part of a unified or obligatory military policy because, by comparison, Winter described incidents in which another unit lost three soldiers entering a booby-trapped house.

The height of this can be seen in his activation of the Hannibal Directive after the “kidnapping” [sic] of Hadar Goldin in Rafah.  According to reports, a massive amount of fire was mounted by the IDF, which deviated from any measure of proportionality–to use military terms–to stop the “kidnapping.”  So they fired directly on homes and killed 150 Palestinians, most of them civilians.  This time no warning was offered to enable anyone to flee.

War crimes are not deterred by religious doctrine.  Rather, the barriers to carrying them out are even easier to overcome, when the battle is seen as a religious war, conducted by someone who believes he kills an enemy which “defiles the name of God.”  And that the command to inherit the land obligates an uncompromising war against the descendants of the Philistines [Palestinians], as Winter’s teacher, Rabbi Eli Sadan, director of the B’nei David pre-army academy, preached in the midst of Operation Protective Edge.  The mission was, according to Sadan, to topple the “gates of Gaza,” like the feat of Samson, which would pave the way to realize Sadan’s ideal, the founding of a Davidic kingdom in Hebron.  After founding such a kingdom “you would not find any more Philistines,” said the Rabbi.  Therefore, for Winter and Sadan, the battle in Gaza isn’t one after which one reaches a compromise, but rather a part of a religious war which must not be ended before decisive victory.

The religious perspective of the Commander attests to a military doctrine that deviates from the official ethical norms of the army.  This “ethics” is developed from the inspiration of pre-army education, which this commander received at the academy which functions under state authority.  The boundary which prohibits expression of such a perspective, and in essence their realization in the field, should have been demarcated by Winter’s commanders.  But they failed in this and instead fully legitimized his actions.  Offering anew the demarcation of such a boundary is critical for the recovery of battle ethics and in order to guarantee that the army realizes a mission identified by the political echelon, in whose name soldiers are ordered to sacrifice their lives.  A mission whose purpose is entirely different than founding a Davidic kingdom in Hebron.

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givati command levels
Satire from today’s Haaretz concerning the Commander of the Givati Brigade, Col. Ofer Winter.  Note which command level is ranked lowest of the five:

The five command levels for the [IDF] Givati Brigade:

1. the Lord of Hosts

2. Deputy Lord of Hosts

3.  Prophets of Israel

4. IDF Chief Rabbi

5. [IDF] Chief of Staff

Of course, what’s even more ironic about this is that this is not just the command level for one IDF brigade, it’s the command level for the entire army and possibly the entire country, which is rapidly turning into a Jewish political-theocracy.

H/t Iftach Shavit

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ofer winter idf war criminal

Col. Winter’s genocidal battle plan for Operation Protective Edge

After Operation Cast Lead, peace activists prepared a list of 200 IDF officers who played major roles in the sowing the killing fields of Gaza with blood.  I’m hoping someone is right now preparing a similar list for Operation Protective Edge.  The level of mass mayhem in it far exceeds that of the prior campaign.  More dead, more injured, more orphans, more devastation.

Remember this name in particular: Ofer Winter.  He’s the poster boy of IDF war criminals.  He was also high on the list of those accused of similar acts during Cast Lead.  It was he who wrote the genocidal battle plan announced to his troops in the accompanying image:

History has chosen for us to be the bayonet point of battle against the Gazan terrorist enemy which curses, defames and abuses the God of Israel’s military campaigns…

God, the Lord of Israel, make our path successful, as we are about to fight for Your People, Israel, against an enemy who defames your name. In the name of the IDF fighters…make the phrase “For the Lord your God is he that goeth with you, to fight for you against your enemies, to save you.” come true, and we shall answer: Amen.

ofer winter

Col. Ofer Winter, author of Rafah massacre

Lest you think I overstated the term “genocidal” above, anyone who knows their Bible will recognize this language.  It is the language used to describe those tribes which the Israelites wiped out in their campaign to capture the land of Israel and populate it with their offspring.  Tribes like the Amalekites, Moabites, Jebusites and others were all exterminated in battles in which the ancient Jews followed what they perceived as God’s will in taking over the land.

Winter’s Givati brigade played a key role in the slaughter in Rafah (English edition) in the last week of the war in which 160 Palestinians were killed by vengeful IDF forces seeking vengeance after a Hamas attack that killed an IDF major, sergeant and captured Lt. Hadar Goldin.

These troops were member of Givati.  So when the deputy commander named Eitan came on the scene of that attack he begged Col. Winter to allow him to pursue the Palestinian fighters who’d taken Goldin into the tunnel in which they’d fled.

Winter permitted him to do so only after exploding a grenade in the tunnel, which would’ve killed Goldin and his captors if they were still there.

Then Winter and the rest of the IDF proceeded to rampage through Gaza both from air and land.  They annihilated any vehicle approaching the hospital in Rafah in case Goldin was being brought for treatment.  The attack was relentless and unlike any other previous one in this horrific war.  Heavy artillery, air bombardment, striking anything that moved (as Zvi Bar’el wrote in the column I translated yesterday).

Here is how Haaretz characterized Winter’s “on the ground” interpretation of Hannibal:

The Givati command headquarters…used the Hannibal procedure to find Goldin. They did so without the immediate authorization of the Gaza Division and Southern Command.

This was the most aggressive action of its type ever carried out by the IDF, military sources said. In addition to the use of special forces, an armored column moved quickly about one kilometer into Rafah’s built-up area…Israeli air support was also called in.

This procedure takes a risk with the life of a captured soldier to stop the abduction. But officers in the General Staff said this week the procedure does not permit the killing of a captured soldier to thwart the abduction. Still, some soldiers and junior officers might believe the killing of the abductee is preferable to an abduction.

Let’s again be clear in ways that few other Israeli or foreign journalists are willing to be.  This was not an attempt to save Goldin or free him.  It was an attempt to kill him.  It was also an attempt to kill his captors and show Hamas that this will be the fate of anyone who attempts to capture an Israeli soldier.  But this is a lesson that Hamas refuses to learn, because it is motivated by the same stubborn, zealous nationalism that impels the IDF.  Hamas is willing to sacrifice anything for the sake of its nation including the lives of its fighters.  And taking an IDF soldier hostage advances the struggle for Palestine.  So it is a chance not only worth taking as far as they are concerned, but even a desired and noble sacrifice if one were to lose one’s life in taking it.

There is also another aspect of the Rafah slaughter that must be considered when weighing charges of war crimes.  Besides killing Goldin under the execrable Hannibal Directive, this day that Haaretz reporters are now calling Black Friday was one of mass vengeance against not just those who killed the two soldiers, but also against everyone, including civilians, in the area from which the attackers came.  This was not just collective punishment, an act clearly prohibited under the laws of war, it was collective murder.

So Col. Winter, you’ve earned your number 1 spot in the new Dirty 200 list of IDF war criminals.

On a related matter, the 72-hour humanitarian ceasefire has now ended.  In talks in Cairo, Egypt and Israel offered no flexibility regarding Israeli demands to lift the illegal siege of Gaza.  Therefore, as expected, the ceasefire appears to have failed.  Rockets have begun to fly from Gaza into Israel.  The latter has announced Hamas has rejected the ceasefire attempting to pin the blame on it for a resumption of hostilities, while omitting Israel’s intransigence as the leading factor in the failure of the talks.

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A Nightmare Called Hannibal

Despite the pall of military censorship, the Israel and foreign media are beginning, tentatively to air the problematic moral issues about the Hannibal Directive and how it was implemented during the Gaza war.  To be clear, there has been a lot of smoke and hokum written on the subject as well.  And that even is the preponderance of what is published.  But there have been two noteworthy stories written, one by Zvi Bar’el in Haaretz (Hebrew) and one by Ruth Margalit in The New Yorker.  Far the most important is Bar’el’s, but Haaretz hasn’t yet translated it into English.  Since I don’t know whether it will or not, I’m going to translate the most critical passages below.

But before I do, I wanted to point to Israeli reporting on Hannibal and the Hadar Goldin killing in particular, to illustrate Israel’s schizophrenic nature around this subject.  A Ynet article describes (Hebrew) the “heroics” of Deputy Commander “Eitan,” who demanded of his superiors permission to pursue Goldin and his captors into the tunnel in which they had disappeared.  The officer had to climb up the ranks of his commanding officers till he finally reached one who approved of his hot pursuit.  But the commander told him that before he entered the tunnel he had to throw a grenade into it.

Compare this to this subtitle of the story:

Deputy [Commander] Who Went into Tunnel to Save Goldin

You simply don’t throw hand grenades into tunnels into which your own comrade has just disappeared if you wish to save him.  Another ghoulish aspect of this report is that it features video of Eitan visiting the bereaved Goldin family, where he’s welcomed with open arms.  They truly believe Eitan valiantly tried to save their son when instead he tried to kill him (and perhaps did).  There is a secret, unconscious code (something like Hannibal itself), which allows everyone to pretend Goldin died a hero and that his comrades did everything possible to save him, when the opposite is the case.

hannibal directive hadar goldin

Ambulances of the sort destroyed in an attempt to kill IDF Lt. Hadar Goldin  (Saleh Hijazi)

Here is Zvi Bar’el’s Haaretz column:

A Nightmare Called Hannibal

Twice we heard sighs of relief from one end of the country to another.  Once when the army confirmed the death of Oron Shaul and a second, when it announced that Hadar Goldin had died.  It even seemed that a note of triumph accompanied that sigh: Hamas hadn’t succeeded in kidnapping our soldiers and the country had averted a double trauma.

Who could stand the drafting of thousands of citizen do-gooders to gather at intersections with placards calling for “the return home of the soldiers?”  Who has the patience of these parents, who immediately begin to run to European capitals in order to seek support and pressure Hamas?  Who has the resources required to conduct negotiations with German, British or Qatari mediators in order to get a bit of information on the kidnap victims?  Not to speak of the political pressure, the empty declarations of MKs concerning the “strategic threat” posed by freeing [Palestinian] prisoners in return for [Israeli] hostages.  In short,  give us those dead bodies and we’ll be satisfied.  War, death, funerals, a clean shiva, all of which satisfy.  [They offer] formal recognition of our bereavement.  This is the desired order of things.

A hostage shatters the picture of victory, the narrative of complete success.  A captive is a national fashlah [mishap].

But there is a cure:  the army pharmacy invented the Hannibal Directive.  A perverted, satanic product which, in common parlance, we may describe as: “let the world go to hell and the kidnap victim too, as long as we’re not shamed.”  The practical ramification of the expression is artillery bombardments, aerial bombardment, and destruction of all that moves in the vicinity of the kidnapping, in order to prevent the kidnappers from fleeing.  Let a hundred die, even a thousand, let hundreds of homes be turned into dust, let children be made orphans and women in labor roll in their own blood, just so that the kidnappers and perhaps the kidnap victim himself should die.

“You must act, to the extent possible, to stop the kidnapping, including laying down fire, but not in a manner which causes a high likelihood of death to the kidnap victim.  This is due to an understanding that the value of the life of the kidnap victim is greater than the price of the kidnapping [ransom],” clarifies Prof. Asa Kasher, who wrote the IDF’s ethical code.

How do you define “a high likelihood?”  How many residents may you kill and how many homes destroy in order to prevent a kidnapping?  Is 100 Palestinians acceptable?  Maybe 150?  100 homes is in the realm of what’s acceptable?  It goes without saying that the lives of Palestinians aren’t worth much to begin with, their homes worth even less.

But where did that shrug of the shoulders that was seen among IDF spokespersons and politicians of several days past go, when they troubled themselves to explain that falling captive, just like the death or wounding of a soldier, was an inseparable part of war?  If falling captive is so “natural” why do we need to make worlds quake [when it happens to us]?  Even when a soldier is killed, the IDF doesn’t purposely destroy a school or clinic.  At least this is what we would hope.  So why for the sake of a captive does the IDF ignite a a spewing volcano which is likely to pour boiling lava also on the kidnap victim himself?

There is no intent to save [the soldier] in the Hannibal Directive, and certain no ethics or essential [moral] value.  The falling of a person into captivity obligates that we do everything to free him…from captivity, not from life itself.  Yes, it is permitted, even criticial to conduct negotiations to free him, to exchange him for prisoners or to pay ransom if that’s what is necessary.  Nations no less ethical than Israel have done so and continue to do so.

The bluff that we don’t conduct negotiations with terrorists has been exposed for some time.  Even now Israel conducts talks with Hamas, with which it signed a ceasefire in 2012.  Are ceasefire talks more moral than talks over returning a captive?  All the argument for and against exchanging prisoners have been exhausted in the case of Gilad Shalit and his predecessors.  In the end, freeing them was considered, in effect, the most humane and ethical act the country could do on behalf of its soldiers.  The Hannibal Directive contradicts in an absolute manner this approach.  It must be repudiated immediately.

As for Margalit’s article, it is generally quite good.  But I take strong issue with this statement:

To be clear, there is no evidence that Goldin was killed by friendly fire. 

There are heaping mounds of evidence that Goldin was killed by his own comrades.  I’ve reported here that members of his unit wounded him as he was being carried away.  You’ve read above that another soldier threw a grenade into a tunnel into which he’d been carried.  Every ambulance or vehicle approaching the hospital where he might be taken for treatment was annihilated by IDF fire.  How much evidence do you need to say that it’s highly likely Goldin (as well as Guy Levy) was killed by his own?

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Yesterday, I called the State Department press office to ask for comment on my report that not only Israel, but Russia as well are intercepting John Kerry’s in flight telephone calls in order to learn the internal positions of the U.S. government on matters of concern to them like Palestine peace talks and the Ukraine, respectively.

I’d tweeted to the AP’s State Department reporter, Matt Lee, earlier asking if he’d consider asking such a question at the weekly Monday press conference.  His question (I presume it was Matt’s though the transcript doesn’t identify the reporter by name) only asked about the Israeli spying, but not the Russian.  Here is how the transcript reads:

QUESTION:  And one final on this.  Has Secretary Kerry communicated these concerns to Prime Minister Netanyahu since this latest attack?

MS. PSAKI:  Well, he spoke with him briefly yesterday morning, and their phone call was cut off.  I think there was some communications issue.  But he has raised the – our concern about civilian casualties in the past, and certainly that’s consistent but not this specific –

QUESTION:Did he raise the questions about Israeli spying, for lack of a better word, on his telephone calls?

MS. PSAKI:There’s just nothing more I have to read out from the call.

Here is the response I received to my own query from the State Department:

Here is the response given at State Department Daily Press Briefing on August 4, 2014 by Spokesperson Jen Psaki [a reference to the above passage]. Nothing more to add.

So when given a chance to deny the truth of the report, State punted.

I also found Psaki’s revelation that Kerry’s phone call with Netanyah was “cut off” by “some communications issue” to be tantalizing.  Keep in mind that relations now between the U.S. and Israel are at about their lowest ebb since the first George Bush cut off aid in 1991.  Israel had rejected a U.S.-UN brokered ceasefire prominently announced by Kerry about a week earlier and pursued the war killing several hundred more Palestinians in the interim.

One can imagine that the phone call between Kerry and Netanyahu can’t have been a happy one, since Kerry was clearly complaining about Israel killing Palestinian civilians.  One may also imagine that Netanyahu hung up on Kerry in anger, though I haven’t been able to confirm this through my own sources.

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zino maariv

Zino’s report confirming the IDF fired a guided missile at an UNWRA school which killed civilians.

An Israeli reporter for Maariv, Aviram Zino, has been embedded with an IDF unit during the current invasion.  Noam R writes in his Israeli political blog about Zino’s fawning enthusiastic response to being given the chance of a lifetime to be a reporter in the middle of the “action.”  His reporting comes across as cheerleading rather than objective journalism.  But in spite of himself, Zino reveals a damning fact that impeaches the IDF’s credibility regarding its denial of deliberately targeting UN buildings housing Palestinian civilian refugees.

Zino reports that the unit commander, Nadav, ordered the firing of a $100,000 Tamuz (aka Spike) heat-seeking anti-tank missile on a UNWRA school in Beit Hanoun on July 24th:

Nadav tried to clarify what means were available to him.  A survey of the field shows clearly fire coming from an UNWRA school in the center of Gaza.  The order is given and a Tammuz missile is fired at the school.  The commanding general, who arrives later for a press conference, says in response: “This is yet another example of Hamas’ cynical use of civilian structures for the purposes of terror.”

It’s a bit aggravating since the unit tried from the beginning of the Operation to do minimal damage, as best as possible, to the “uninvolved” [military jargon for "civilians"].

15 Palestinian civilians died from this missile and 150 were injured.  As Noam R points out in his blog post, this is the first eyewitness, definitive evidence that the IDF deliberately ordered a lethal guided-weapon (not indiscriminate artillery fire) to be fired at a civilian building in Gaza knowing there were unarmed non-combatants inside who would be killed.

Two things to point out about this report.  Clearly, Zino didn’t see firing from the school.  He trusted the unit commander’s word that such fire had been confirmed.  But by whom and how is not mentioned.  Second, the commander speaking at the press conference only notes the attack by the IDF on the school without explaining how it justified killing civilians.  Zino, in the closing sentence, admits explicitly that the attack was both disproportional and knowingly attacked civilians.  As Sara Lee Whitson says in the paragraph below: that “is a war crime.”

In fact, Human Rights Watch’s Sarah Leah Whitson spoke about Israel’s responsibility to Gaza’s civilian population:

…The…presence of…civilians despite a warning to flee cannot be ignored when attacks are carried out, as Israeli forces have done previously.

“Warning families to flee fighting doesn’t make them fair targets just because they’re unable to do so, and deliberately attacking them is a war crime,” Whitson said.

In other words, you may not attack a civilian target containing unarmed civilians using heavy lethal weapons, even if you believe there are armed fighters engaged in combat operations against you.  The safety of civilians trumps any desire to eliminate the armed threat, if there is one.  This is reinforced by the fact that the IDF never presents any proof of its claims that armed fighters are firing from such structures and didn’t do so in this particular case.

There is yet another instance of serious IDF prevarication.  Army spokesperson Lt. Col. Lerner told AP 900 Palestinian fighters had been killed during the war.  Yet the IDF itself only two days before had put that number at 300.  When asked why it jumped so much, AP characterized his response:

Lerner said the figure of 900 militants killed was an approximation, based on reporting from individual Israeli units, but provided no further detail.

In other words, “900″ is nothing more than the old Vietcong “body count” released by the U.S. army to persuade the press it was killing gooks and winning the war.  The truth turned out to be quite different, as it will be in Gaza as well.

Palestinian and UN reports place the number of dead fighters at 20% of the overall total, which is 1,900.  That would mean that 380 militants were killed.  My own Israeli source reports more candid IDF claims that 500 fighters have been killed.  Certainly, the final number will be somewhere between 380-500, but nowhere near Lerner’s prevaricating claim of 900.

My Operation Protective Edge debrief yesterday argued that while both sides had gotten bloody noses, Hamas, simply by remaining standing, had gotten the better of Israel.  Sheera Frenkel interviewed soldiers leaving Gaza and they uniformly told her they believed both that their objectives hadn’t been clear going into Gaza, and now that the Operation had ended, they hadn’t “gotten the job done.”  Meaning, don’t believe the PR-bloviating you’ll hear from Benny Gantz and Bibi Netanyahu saying that Hamas had been dealt a mortal blow, that Israel had achieved all its objectives, etc.  None of that happened.  As Arnold Schwarzenegger says in Terminator: “I’ll be back!”  Of that you can be sure.  War is a never-ending phenomena as far as Israel is concerned.

One final word about the utter futility of Israel’s policy toward Gaza.  International bodies are now organizing a conference to pledge reconstruction aid to Gaza.  This is a ridiculous undertaking.  It is just what the world did the last time Israel attacked Gaza in Operation Cast Lead.  Not to mention that Israel prevented most of the aid from entering Gaza for its intended purpose.  Why should the world bear the responsibility to reconstruct Gaza when it didn’t destroy it?  The onus should be squarely on Israel to do so.  And if it refuses, as it clearly would, then further action must be taken to force it to accept responsibility.  Of course, this would never happen under existing circumstances.  But those circumstances will and must change.

If Israel wants to ravage the Middle East and destroy the territory of its neighbors, then it must pay the price.

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