An Israeli friend alerted me this afternoon:
…The Israeli news now talk about “heavy fire exchanges” which in previous conflicts has usually been codeword for “be prepared to hear of more IDF casualties soon.”
Sure enough, by early this evening he reported to me a major self-inflicted IDF disaster:
It turns out a Gaza building with a whole Golani unit in it collapsed, apparently after being hit by “friendly” IDF tank fire. 3 dead, one fighting for his life, a few badly injured, and a whole regiment busy evacuating the unit the entire night last night.
While it’s important to note that the IDF has suffered similar self-inflicted wounds in previous conflicts, it’s also important to point out that Israeli deaths in combat especially involving friendly fire have a severe impact on public perceptions of the war.
David Grossman’s speech at the Yitzhak Rabin memorial–after he’d lost his own brave son in the last day of the war–in which flayed Ehud Olmert played a major role in turning public perception against that conflict.
Unfortunately, four Israeli dead in such an incident has much more impact than the death of 400 or even 4,000 Palestinians, because Israelis are inured to the suffering of the enemy. But their own suffering they understand. Thank God they have that much human feeling.
It is customary to talk of such losses as korbanot (“sacrifices”) for the nation. I see them as sacrifices as well. But in a different sense. These soldiers are sacrifices on the altar of Ehud Barak’s folly. If Israelis begin to reconsider the costs of implementing Barak’s folly, then their sacrifice will not have been in vain.
Haaretz reports about 100 Palestinian dead today alone with many of them civilians. This would raise the total to somewhere close to 600 dead for the whole conflict. The IDF wiped out three entire Gazan families totalling 19 souls in separate attacks.