The IDF has formally exonerated the tank crew which killed Reuters cameraman Fadel Shana and eight others in Gaza several months ago. You’ll recall that Shana was filming the tank crew from his car, which was clearly marked with a large PRESS sign as was his own chest. Shana, in the process of filming the tank’s movements, actually filmed his own death.
The IDF investigator’s defense of what some might call negligent homicide or even outright murder is telling:
“The tank crew was unable to determine the nature of the object mounted on the tripod and positively identify it as an anti-tank missile, a mortar or a television camera,” Brigadier General Avihai Mendelblit of the Israel Defence Forces wrote.
…Their blue flak jackets, like the car, were marked “PRESS”. The army said the troops could not see those signs. Journalists in Gaza say they have rarely seen militants wear flak jackets.
Mendelblit wrote: “In light of the reasonable conclusion reached by the tank crew and its superiors that the characters were hostile and were carrying an object most likely to be a weapon, the decision to fire at the targets … was sound …
We’re in rhetorical never-never land when such reasoning can be seen as legitimate. What the general is saying is that if an IDF officer is not certain what he is seeing he is free to assume the unknown object is “most likely a weapon” and mow it down. If you can’t “positively identify” whether something is an “anti-tank missile or a television camera” how are you justified in presuming that the object is “most likely to be a weapon?” Such thinking strains credulity and basically allows the IDF to engage in whatever behavior it wishes in the expectation a rationale, no matter how lame, can later be found to justify it.
Recently, a 14 year old boy killed a hiker here in Washington, mistaking her for a bear. Regardless, the district attorney is prosecuting the boy for negligence. He couldn’t clearly identify the target but shot her anyway assuming she was a bear because that is what he was hunting.
If the local DA followed the IDF advice the boy would go scot-free. I’m glad there is accountability somewhere in the world even if it’s not Israel.