Haaretz reported yesterday that Israel assassinated two Islamic Jihad militants with an airstrike which also killed three young Palestinian civilians:
The military operation took place in Gaza City at about 5:30 P.M., when IAF jets fired two missiles at an ice-cream van in which Munir Sukar, 27, and Ashraf Shaluf were traveling. According to the security services, Sukar is responsible for numerous Qassam launches at Israel, as well as an attempt to send a suicide bomber to Jerusalem last month, while Shaluf is also a Jihad operative.
However, the strike also killed Raad Al-Batash, 8, Mahmoud Al-Batash, 15, and Ahmed A-Susi, 24, who were nearby when the missiles hit. Eight other passers-by were wounded, and Sukar’s aunt, who lives nearby, died of a heart attack apparently brought on by the strike.
Apparently, for Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz, such collateral damage is a small price to pay for ridding the world of such terrorist scum. Ariga.com notes he even has the temerity to use the old Reaganesque term “cost benefit analysis” which was used to obviate any moral qualms arising from a questionable government policy:
Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz told Army Radio that ‘of course we regret any innocent loss of life … but the cost benefit of eliminating the terrorists, whether those who launch the Qassams or those who send them to do so, is quite clear. And it is clear to all that we do not target innocents.’
And this statement from the IDF reassures me no end that the raid was carried out with the purest of intentions:
According to the probe, an IAF observation unit identified the target vehicle as it was traveling. However, the spotters only saw that the vehicle was approaching a crowd of civilians when it was too late.
Military sources said that by the time the crowd was identified, it was already too late to divert the two missiles from their courses.
IAF Commander Major General Eliezer Shakedi said on Tuesday morning that the air force makes “super-human efforts in order to reduce the number of innocent casualties in aerial strikes.”
Shakedi presented data indicating a change in the number of “non-combatants” killed in IAF aerial strikes in the territories. Non-combatant deaths made up about half of all Palestinian casualties resulting from IAF strikes until 2003 but only 3.5 percent of such casualties last year. Shakedi said Monday’s casualties were the first civilians harmed in aerial assassinations since the beginning of 2006.
Go tell it to the parents of the Palestinian dead. I’m sure your statistics will comfort them. I have 16 month-old twins and a five year old son. For me to lose them in such a way would break my heart irreparably and mark me for tragedy for life. Essentially, I would no longer have a life. There is no “cost benefit analysis” that can justify such killing of innocents. Mofaz can argue till he’s blue in the face that Israel does not “target innocents.” But the fact is that it kills them. And it kills them in the hundreds during these nameless, faceless raids from the sky. This is a calculus of death that I can never accept.
Mofaz, keep making statements like this. There are lawyers around the world collecting them and preparing to try you before an international criminal tribunal. I am sorry to speak so harshly. I do believe that Israel has a right to protect itself from terror. But not by killing innocents whether it targets them or not. This is treif and morally impermissible.