Israel’s cruel, heartless shelling of Palestinian civilian centers continues as Ariga reports today. And the IDF’s half-hearted apologies and sophistry continues as it attempts to “explain away” its culpability. As I wrote yesterday here, the shelling is not designed to interdict the rocket launchings, but rather to punish the Palestinian people collectively so that they will force the shelling to cease. It is a cold, brutal and nakedly calculating tactic. I fervently hope that the orchestrators of this policy will some day have to “face the music” and accept culpability for these violations of the Geneva Conventions (against collective punishment of civilian populations):
The Israeli shelling of ‘open spaces’ in Gaza appeared less and less to be an attempt to strike back at Palestinians from almost every group — except Hamas — who have been launching the primitive rockets at Israel since 2002 and on almost a daily basis since the beginning of this year — and more and more an attempt to pressure the Palestinians into stopping the rockets…
On the other hand, during the last several weeks, Israel has lobbed approximately 100 shells into Gaza for each Qassam — literally thousands of shells, their launch a resounding boom heard for kilometers, their crash no less frightening to the Palestinians as the Qassams are to the Israelis.
Chief of Staff Dan Halutz said today during a tour of the artillery lined up against Gaza that the girl’s death was ‘regrettable … but as we’ve said, it is the terrorists who are to blame.’
Ah yes, those who fire the artillery guns aren’t to blame for the deaths of innocents. We were forced to fire those shells and kill them. It’s out of our control and we wash our hands of any responsibility. Further, yesterday an IDF spokesperson “defended” the shelling of civilians by claiming that there had been shelling that originated from the vicinity at the time of the IDF attack. Today, in the BBC the IDF concedes that there had been no shelling in that area:
The Israelis admit there was no militant rocket fire from the area at the time but they say there had been earlier, and that they had been trying to deter more.
Yes, you remember Bush’s concept of pre-emptive war. This is pre-emptive shelling. We shell you and kill a few of yours to scare you from later firing your rockets at us. And how precisely does shelling such a residential neighborhood prevent a future rocket launch from the same site unless of course you’re banking on the residents themselves chasing future attackers away before they fire their rockets. But how can residents even do that when they’re cowering in their beds from the IDF shells raining down on them??
‘The Hamas government is not acting against the terrorists,’ said Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz, on tour with Halutz, ‘so Israel will have to do what it must, including escalating if necessary.’ And he summed up Israeli policy as ‘As long as Israelis can’t live in quiet, the Gazans won’t.‘
“Quiet.” An interesting term. The Israelis have to live with the annoyance of errant rockets landing in their fields (the projectiles are notoriously inaccurate and rarely cause death or injury) while the Gazans live with a constant terrifying pounding and distinct possibility of death from Israeli artillery shells. Quiet indeed.
In other words, the shelling is not meant to hit Qassam launchers in action, or deter them from reaching ‘launching areas’ — which for the primitive rockets means practically anywhere outdoors — but is meant to apply pressure on the Palestinian population to apply pressure on the Hamas controlled Palestinian Authority to apply its own pressure on the Qassam launchers…
So, as of now, the apologies for what the press, echoing the army, called ‘the unfortunate images’ of children being ferried to hospital, are sounded with rationalizations meant to justify the shelling, which continued today, even though only one Qassam fell in an empty field in Israel.
And the poor father of the murdered girl, Hadil Ghraben, told Israeli radio that no Qassams had been launched from his neighborhood:
‘If there had been, we would have been angry at them. Instead we are angry at Israel. I used to work in Israel, for many years. But now I don’t want to ever go back.’
What this unfortunate fellow doesn’t realize is that this is precisely the message that Israel is conveying through the shelling. It WANTS Palestinians to turn away from any potential contact with Israelis. It wants them to stop trying to work in Israel. It wants them to stop selling their produce to Israel. It wants absolute separation and yes–to the consternation of the pro-Israel hardliners–it wants apartheid (whose Afrikaans meaning presumable conveys “apartness”).
And the final word goes to the bereaved father of the the 8 year-old girl:
An army officer telephoned to apologise to Hadil’s father, Mohammed, but he was unimpressed.
“I told him ‘you didn’t hit the people who fired the rockets, you hit the little kids and civilians’,” Mohammed told the BBC.
“What did those kids do? They were at home, inside. And now you call to apologise.”
Indeed. And I’m sorry to say that, in my view, that is precisely the IDF’s goal (to intimidate and kill if it’s unavoidable “little kids and civilians”). Scare the bejesus out of them until they run screaming to the militants to stop. Kill civilians if you must (but hopefully only a few to get the message across). It’s a price you’re willing to pay to “teach them a lesson they’ll never forget.”
The fact of the matter is that even if the IDF succeeds in creating mortal terror among civilians and thereby ending the rocket attacks, the Palestinian militants will come up with some new way to punish Israelis. That’s the way the terror game works. You find a way to impede me and I find a new way to circumvent your defenses. It’s a grim, brutal calculus of terror and counter-terror which never works to either side’s ultimate advantage.