You know the drill: Hamas and Hezbollah commit the cowardly and unpardonable sin of hiding weapons caches in sites like schools, hospitals, mosques, ambulances. This not only justifies attacking sacred sites and any collateral damage to civilians (cf. if only they fought fair), it also serves to reinforce the brutal image of the enemy in the average Israeli’s mind.
I’ve already drilled this notion full of wholes by displaying an Israeli plaque commemorating a Yishuv-era arms cache hidden in a synagogue. Of course, this means there had to be scores of other similar troves in similar locations in the pre-and post-state era. Now, Yossi Melman has profiled a doctoral dissertation by a retired military officer which deals solely with this subject:
The…caches were used mainly to hide weapons and ammunition (but also communication gear and archives ) of the fighting organizations from 1918 to 1948…He found that toward the end of the British Mandate in Palestine, there were more 1,500 weapons caches here, in kibbutzim, moshavim, cities and towns. The book demonstrates the wide variety of caches, which were constructed with a great deal of ingenuity, both above and below ground, and even at the bottom of reservoirs.
What I find curious about Melman’s article in the English version is that it completely omits identifying where the caches were located. A check of the Hebrew indicates quite a selective, even dubious translation job which entirely omitted this important passage from the English version:
Members of the pre-State fighting organizations didn’t hesitate to use for this purpose childrens’ nurseries in kibbutzim and synagogues.
There were, for example, two caches in the Old City’s Hurva synagogue [ed., which may explain why the Jordanians destroyed the building after they conquered East Jerusalem], one for Lehi and one for Etzel. The Haganah also had caches in synagogues in many moshavim. Similar use of ambulances also was made. At the height of the 1929 riots, Manya Shohat, one of the founders of HaShomer [early Yishuv paramilitary defense group], moved a trove of weapons from Kfar Giladi to Haifa in a bus disguised as an ambulance. She wore a nurse’s uniform and another family member became the sick person.
The thinking behind such tactics was that the British soldiers and officers were gentlemen and wouldn’t dare search such locations.
Perhaps the passage was omitted because it makes this finger-wagging by Melman look like a hollow exercise:
This out-of-bounds and cynical use of such places is widely condemned by human rights organizations and governments. Israel depicts such misuse as violating international law, the rules of warfare and every accepted moral norm, so Israeli security forces are able to justify striking mosques and exercising a heavy hand at checkpoints – to the point of preventing the movement of sick Palestinians in ambulances.
Israel’s claims and condemnations are justified. Even terror organizations should obey the basic rules of right and wrong.
What’s good for the goose…