IDF During Cast Lead: Use a Cell Phone, Go to Paradise (or Hell)
Back in the days when U.S. politicians wanted to prove they were tough on crime there used to be a slogan: “Use a gun, go to jail.” Now, Tzahal has improved on that with news that if you were a Gazan using a cell phone during Operation Cast Lead, you were in some cases targeted for death by the IDF. If you were a local resident talking on a cell phone you were a target for any IDF soldier who happened to see you.
So reports the Israeli news portal Walla, noting that the Givati brigade had standing orders to shoot any Palestinian using a cell phone. It was called the “Pelephone [an Israeli cell phone brand] rule.” Apparently, soldiers believed that either the cell phones might be used to activate bombs or to report positions of IDF soldiers. There are no known reports that Gazans actually used their phones for any of these purposes. Nor is there any evidence of any general IDF warning to Gazans that they would be shot if they were seen using such equipment.
Interesting that the IDF seems not to have taken account that Gazans might be using their cell phones for legitimate purposes like making desperate calls to the Red Crescent Society to evacuate their dead or injured loved ones from homes assaulted by missiles, and from which the IDF refused to allow evacuation till many of the living had bled to death. Or that they might be trying to ensure that their loved ones might have found safe shelter from the IDF onslaught.
According to the officer who first related the rule to military investigators, it specified that a warning was to be given the Palestinian to stop using the phone. If the warning was ignored, then a warning shot was to be fired over his head. If this too was ignored, then shooting at the victim was permitted. This sounds suspiciously like a post facto justification. I’d guess that in the field, in the rush of battlefield adrenalin, the niceties of the procedure might’ve been fudged and a frightened boy soldier might’ve shot first and asked questions never. Not to mention, that very few Givati soldiers would know enough Arabic to be able to communicate this message to a potential victim. Walla reports that a number of Gazans were injured by such fire. Investigators are trying to match up reports of deaths mentioned in the Goldstone Report with this procedure to discover whether Gazans were actually killed due to it.
Lt. Col. Ilan Malka, commander of the brigade, has also been questioned about the rule to determine whether it was sanctioned at the highest command level. Malka has also been investigated for approving the slaughter to the al-Samouni family in their home which resulted in the murder of 21 clan members and grave injuries to many more.
Edo has also posted about this story.
20 thoughts on “IDF During Cast Lead: Use a Cell Phone, Go to Paradise (or Hell) – Tikun Olam תיקון עולם إصلاح العالم”
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How interesting, since the IOF were also busy making calls to Gazan cell phones warning them about impending bombings, supposedly. Answer your phone and die, don’t answer it and die too, what’s the difference?
Assuming the use of cellular phones for the purpose of detonating remote explosives is a fact (as it is treated in the article), what do you think soldiers should do when they’re given reason think someone is about to do just that? (e.g, not terminating their calls after being told to & having a bullet fly above their heads)
What’s really intriguing about this is that the IDF should, by now, have an electronic device that disables cellphones (Hebrew only, sorry):
The article I referred to in the first paragraph is the one I quoted.
NO, not at all. It is not assumed as a fact or even remotely stated to be so. In fact, the article speculates that this may be the reason Givati commanders instituted this. But it is clear to any reasonable reader that this is pure speculation on the part of the reporter. He doesn’t even attribute his speculation to a real source. That’s how hypothetical it is. And again, if it is a “fact” produce a “fact” on the Gazan side to confirm it as reasonable.
I’ve never heard of such a thing happening in Gaza, that any explosives were detonated by cell phones. In fact, all the documents I’ve read of testimony by soldiers who were there points to just the opposite – there was little or no resistance to the “ground invasion.” There weren’t any “detonations” to speak of, by cell phones or anything else, unless said explosions were triggered by the IOF.
Comments on events in Gaza and, indeed, on any aggressive action in this whole region are all well and good but will they, of themselves, ever be able to bring about an end to the situation as it stands today? War is bad and people are stupid. OK, so, what else is new? Both sides have their own take on the situation and simply complaining about their behaviour has, to date, done very little to change their respective attitudes. Or, indeed, the conflict process itself.
Navigating a route out of this increasingly hazardous maze has fallen foul of so many tripwires and pitfalls that now might be a good time to stop and consider for a moment what options, if any, are really left to us.
We can go on much as before, bewailing the crisis and pointing out the errors, as we see them, of each set of combatants.
We can look on helplessly as the situation gets progressively worse and worse, feeling in our bones that no end other than some total catastrophe will be the result.
Or we can all step up to the plate and knock the whole thing for six. A somewhat mixed sporting metaphor, perhaps, but an illustration of one such technique may be observed in the following.
Just for once, I really would like to see us all grab this thing by the balls and put it where it should be. Far, far behind us and fading into history. Otherwise, it must remain a constant reminder of our inability to act purposefully in the face of such challenges; an insult to our intellect and a charge that will forever make us doubt whatever little humanity we still possess.
Surely we have not become so mesmerised and befuddled by what’s happening that no way out of the dilemma now exists other than to let it run its course. If that continues to be the case, the fault is much more ours than it is soldiers in this instance or freedom fighters in another. We are all equally guilty because the matter is so simple to resolve – and, in a manner that should satisfy (almost) everyone.
In the end, it may be that even the smallest schoolchild could have worked it out.
i suggest you watch, “the hurt locker”, which is based on the articles written by an embedded news person in iraq.
whether there are reports or not of gazans using cell phones to detonate ieds is not the point.
it has become a part of all armed forces training to be wary of anyone using a cell phone in an area of armed conflict
and im sure that the idf trains it soldiers to know how to say, “drop it” in arabic
Iraq is not Gaza in case you weren’t aware of that. So do tell us of a single example of a Gazan using a cell phone to detonate an IED in Gaza during Cast Lead. I’m waiting for a single example.
It IS the point to me & apparently may be the pt to the military prosecutor as well who may have stronger negative views than you seem to have about the IDF practice. So if you want to go ahead & defend possible war crimes pls. do so. We’re used to it coming fr. you.
It has? And you know this how? Besides, being wary is different than killing someone. Givati was willing to kill people for using cell phones.
You’re “sure?” And we’re supposed to take yr word for it? And you’re an expert in IDF training because…?
Because he watched a movie, Richard.
FYI, Every single IDF soldier knows how to say “stop or else I’ll shoot” in Arabic. Whether or not this was used is pure speculation until someone comes forward with evidence either way.
That’s not necessarily what the soldier wants the Gazan to do now is it? He wants him to hang up the phone & throw it away or some such. How can the say that when he doesn’t know how to?
It’s clear that in the struggle to keep the status quo, something will have to be done about the demographic trends as well. Whether that’s dropping depleted uranium, cluster bombs, or whatnot. The point isn’t to starve the Gazans, it’s to inhibit them from growing physiologically like humans in a healthy economy. The vastly juvenile population of Gaza suffers from malnutrition and in the developing ages the lack of proper diet can cause severe growth defects.
By the time any blockade is lifted or any deal is made, the Gazans, even if given their best option, will end up a crippled people for generations.
W/o meaning to minimize Gazan suffering in the least, human beings are incredibly resilient. Look at the lives Holocaust survivors managed to make for themselves after the horror they experienced. So I believe that Gazans, despite suffering lingering trauma fr. all this, will bounce back & show the world that they are irrepressible. They will make up for all this lost time & wasted lives by a burst of creative, commercial & political energy that I hope will astonish the world (& Israel)…when the time comes.
And when will that time come? And in what manner will it manifest itself?
Let’s, for a moment, imagine it as something like this.
Somewhat in line with the ending of the film 2010 – which I’m hoping many of you may have seen – there appears next week, permanently fixed in the night sky over Jerusalem and above much of the Middle East, this message, written in letters of fire and common to every known language in the region.
‘Know this. I am the Lord, thy God and if you guys don’t sort out this whole sorry mess by the end of the year, I shall smite everyone’s first-born. After that, it will be their second-born; then their third. And if that doesn’t work, I’ll be coming after the rest of you. So, get a move on; my patience in this matter is almost at an end.’
Given the above, I should expect no great objections to a peace settlement being hammered out. And that in double-quick order. Certainly, 2011 and all the years thereafter would register as significantly different from the previous sixty or so. Very quite; very subdued.
Well, we all know, indeed we must all hope, that such a scenario will never take place.
Why not? If it does, indeed, resolve all this business, then shouldn’t such a momentous warning be welcomed?
No, because it would mean that we were unable to manage the situation by ourselves and that, for us, would be a cause of eternal resentment. It’s just not a very good method.
So, we must simply find a a better one, one we can call our own and not have handed down to us by whatever God or Gods there may be.
Of course, it would be very useful if our method could include a motivation that was almost as pressing as that described above. I feel sure that, like God, we should not be expected to wait forever for deliverance from so tragic and so longstanding a situation.
@ John Yorke
John, I do try to read your comments but they are usually so convoluted and pedantic I tend to give up after the first couple of sentences. Maybe I’m the only one who feels this way.
Thanks for reading my comments anyway but, strangely enough, you may have touched on what I see as the core of the problem.
To my way of thinking, too many people, here and elswhere, give up on this situation far too easily. They appear content to limit themselves to the standard liberal positions that Richard seems to espouse. (Not that I’m criticising Richard. He’s doing a fine job. But his approach does have limitations.)
Everyone should be nicer to each other.
Obey the law as it is formualted.
Look at it from the other sides point of view.
Question all decisions, especially of those in authority.
Seek to debate the rights and wrongs of every incident, not matter how minor they may be.
Write to your congressman, your MP, even the President himself and express your objections, doubts, reservations in that way.
Applaud and support all peace initiatives wherever they may be found.
Now I had absolutely nothing against any of these. All I am really trying to say is this.
Such solutions, in the face of so intractable a situation, are too anodyne, too bland to accomplish anything of real consequence. And even if they did, it would take too long and be too late for so many future victims of this interminable conflict. Men, women children, generations yet unborn will still be sacrificed because so many of our futile, feeble attempts to remedy the matter, in the end, make no impression whatsoever upon it.
Thus, it will have to be something along the lines of the message I’ve been trying to advocate; something more ambitious, a concept that follows through to resolution no matter what twists and turns are encountered along the way.
The situation demands nothing less of us.
But, if you think there is an alternative, please communicate it to me if you can. I would be most interested to know what that might be.
No, you’re not by any means.
It’s true. I am pedantic. I’m a Virgo. Therefore, it’s written in the stars.
So, Richard, yours is to be a cautious, general advance, overcoming every contingency by marshalling all the legal, moral, ethical and logical arguments and then hoping their combined weight will somehow carry the day?
OK, that’s fine and dandy – if you don’t mind the huge loss of life and waste of resources that must follow on from so incremental an approach.
The setting of too ponderous a pace here will not work to anyone’s advantage. A much quicker, more determined thrust into the heart of the matter is what’s needed; that should always be the preferred method.
Just railing against how terrible things are and how this and that could have been better handled is a natural response to the conflict. But this attitude, by itself, can never produce the desired result. It takes a much more nuanced and focused procedure to address the problem; by tackling it at its very source, not dancing around the edges.
In the end, it is all comes down to choosing which way to go.
To illustrate, a kind of precedent from human history might help.
WW 2 France/Holland/Germany; late in the year 1944: The big question.
Final victory for allied forces was assured but how best to bring to bring it about? The Eisenhower broad front strategy? Or Montgomery’s narrow thrust through to the centre? Both methods were advocated and each could prevail. But, of the two, only one would have shortened that war by a significant margin and thus saved many thousands of lives in the process.
How then is it possible to shorten this war, shorten it by so much and so quickly that it no longer resembles a war but takes on many of the aspects of an indefinite truce?
Or a lasting peace.
I guess it could all depend on whether you see yourself as an Ike or a Monty. In either event, the lives (and deaths) of so many people can rest on just such a decision.
Very quiet; very subdued.
But these may be the very conditions under which a renaissance of culture and progress, both Palestinian and Jewish, might best be siuted.
It’s no use. I’m just going to have to get a new keyboard.
That, or a better spellchecker.