Israeli Pilots: We Couldn’t Stop the Rockets, So We Took Our Frustration Out on Gaza Apartment Towers
The Israeli news site, Mako, published a series of remarkable interviews with IAF pilots whose Gaza bombing runs aroused the consternation of much of the world, as they watched 12-story buildings filled with media offices, bookstores, publishing houses, and residential apartments pulverized into rubble in a matter of seconds. From the start of this Gaza conflict, the world was skeptical of Israeli motivations and objectives. But the wanton destruction of buildings which clearly had no military purpose, succeeded in turning the world against the war.
All the pilots believe they fulfilled their mission with honor. They believe that their targets held military value for Hamas and destroying them damaged the enemy’s ability to fight. Though one had some doubts (more on this later).
The report begins by describing the aerial operation, in which a number of warplanes close in on the targeted buildings from different angles. Each plane targets a different part of the structure so that as the explosives strike simultaneously, they bring the building straight down. The objective is, as the reporter describes it, only to destroy the single building and not to damage structures or civilians who may be nearby.
As I read this, I realized that all these pilots are, are glorified housing demolition experts. Anyone who’s seen an old stadium or building toppled by a few hundred sticks of well-placed dynamite will understand this process. But never have F-16s been used for the sole purpose of destroying civilian residential buildings. It seems an extremely expensive way of doing simple home demolition.
Further, can you think of any other air force in the world in the business not of attacking enemy troops in the thick of battle, but destroying the homes of thousands of civilians. This isn’t warfare. This is target practice in which Palestinian homes and families have Xs on their backs. The most heinous aspect of these attacks is that you can see from the pilots that they treat these civilian buildings with all the care and detail they would devote to attacking an actual military objective. There is a major disconnect, because they believe the targets have some military value, but they clearly don’t.
Major G, who took part in these Gaza attacks says:
This isn’t a terribly complicated aerial sortie. In fact, it’s quite simple. The goal is to accomplish the task professionally, that is with precise flying, a steep aerial approach with a heavy payload, and putting the bomb in the precise spot at the precise moment. Precision is very important, Because of the calculations made regarding the way in which the building will fall, without collapsing outside of a certain radius in the densely built area. The only thing that interests me is that the munition explodes precisely in the place I wanted it to.
We trained for this. The IAF made models and prepared for an operation everyone knew would eventually happen. Preparations for the sortie are extremely professional and there is no place for emotions or thoughts, aside from the strong emphasis on limiting damage to uninvolved bystanders.
The reporter then asks a question about the ultimate utility of these air attacks:
Toppling the apartment buildings in Gaza is meant, according to the IDF, to damage Hamas assets, but also to discourage the terror groups in Gaza from firing rockets toward Israeli cities. Did it work?
Major G. responds:
Personally, I am certain in saying there are targets with justify such an attack. There is no doubt here. Every bit of damage done degrades by just a bit the fighting ability of Hamas. I am personally very certain of this, that every building collapse or blowing up one of their homes, hurts them severely.
When you are in the air, you see the effect of the explosion, smoke and dust. But I got to see later in the media my target via “zoom in.” This sure does have an impact when you see something like this. On the other hand, you also understand today the effect of a falling building [in Gaza] is no longer what it was a few years ago [in Operation Protective Edge, 2014].
Major D. adds to his colleague’s comment:
It’s true that you are damaging their fighting ability and there is no other way [to do that than by destroying the buildings]. I have no doubt that the effect of the collapse of the tower has an impact on them. But in the end, the rockets were fired at us with the same intensity, and in my personal opinion, I’m not sure that it had any impact on Hamas’ Big Guys [senior leaders], the ones it was designed to impact. The day after the war ends, does anyone think much of the fact that Yahya Sinwar or Deif won’t have a home?
The blow they took was very hard. We dropped tons of armaments and firepower on them. Let no one doubt that. But even we understand today that this is yet another round, another operation. Today in the air force they’re saying things that in the past weren’t said. At least I don’t remember hearing them spoken.
I take off on a sortie with a sense of purpose, but it’s just that I think that the destruction of the towers has turned into our way of unloading our frustration at not succeeding in stopping the rockets, not stopping the actions of the terror groups. So we bring down towers.
The reporter closes with this observation:
There is some criticism [among the pilots] about the focus on destroying multi-story buildings in Gaza. It’s their belief that they’re uncertain it had the full effect Israel sought.
These are the testimonies of Israeli pilots who committed war crimes. They did so on the orders of their superiors, trusting that there was some military value in the targets they struck. But they understand, even in the murky fashion of a soldier in the thick of war who has a dawning suspicion of the futility of his fight, that destroying a building cannot stop Hamas’ rockets. They tell us, perhaps without even understanding clearly what they are saying, that they destroyed buildings out of frustration that their commanders could not mount a coherent campaign to achieve Israel’s objectives.
In other words, the war ultimately had no purpose and achieved nothing. They of course would not go that far. But anyone reading their words will understand what they are really saying.
27 thoughts on “Israeli Pilots: We Couldn’t Stop the Rockets, So We Took Our Frustration Out on Gaza Apartment Towers – Tikun Olam תיקון עולם إصلاح العالم”
Comments are published at the sole discretion of the owner.
Where is the evidence that pilots are privy to intelligence detailing why specific target is legitimate target? Pilots job is to eliminate target and not to analyse intelligence reports etc
@ Ock: Where is the evidence? Did you even bother to read the quotations from the pilots themselves? Where they say that they know the targets are legitimate?
Happens all the time. That’s what briefings are for. Militaries don’t just shove people in planes and say “here, go bomb a thing.”
sounds like a total fabrication to me.
@ Avram: OH yeah, Mako, one of the Israel’s main media outlets is going to fabricate interviews with Israeli pilots. You hasbaroids are beyond desperate. Can’t you even come up with credible rebuttal?
IDF bombed Gaza’s high-rises to vent frustration: Israeli pilot
In a resounding scandal of the occupation state and the legend of the invincible army, an Israeli war pilot gave shocking confessions today, revealing that the destruction of residential towers during the aggression on the Gaza Strip was “a way to vent the frustration of the occupation army after its failure to stop firing rockets from the Strip.”
Hi, Richard, thanks for this important article. It should be noted that *Al Jazeera English* ran this story yesterday, but, unfortunately, in a highly misleading way. This is of some significance.
The primary source, the *mako* article, had been published the day before, 0747 IDT, F21May, as linked above.
a) claim: pilots posted at *mako* anonymously –
no: it was a journalist’s article; the pilots were interviewed, & so given anonymity.
b) claim: Israeli pilots seemingly admit to bombing Gaza blocks of flats without being ordered to –
no: in the *mako* article there’s not an inkling of this.
c) claim: this was done by the pilots out of their own frustration –
no: they carried out their orders (even if they were actually illegal);
the only reference to “frustration” is in the original’s penultimate paragraph:
הוא ממשיך ומסביר את ההקשר לתחושות בהן הוא משתף: “אני יוצא לגיחה בתחושה של שליחות, רק שאני חושב שהפלת המגדלים הפכה להיות הדרך שלנו לפרוק את התסכול ממה שקורה לנו ומההצלחה של הארגונים בעזה להמשיך לבעוט. אנחנו לא מצליחים לעצור את הרקטות, לא מצליחים לפגוע בהנהגה של ארגוני הטרור, אז מפילים מגדלים”.
[Richard in his article rendered the direct quote as: “I take off on a sortie with a sense of purpose, but it’s just that I think that *the destruction of the towers has turned into our way of unloading our frustration at not succeeding in stopping the rockets, not stopping the actions of the terror groups. So we bring down towers*.” (the emphases are added without saying so).]
So the “frustration”, as perceived by that interviewed pilot, is that of Jewish-Israelis generally, channelled through the chain of command, from Netanyahu & the Israeli chief of staff.
Thanks again for the article.
These are personal musings. Do these confessions absolve their consciences? They destroy and kill seemingly like robots because their commanders give the orders. The commanders surely cultivate righteousness, have impunity because they have the might. And we support Israel’s “right to defend” but not Palestinians right to uprise. Without the Hamas rockets, drastic measures, nothing gets the world’s attention, nothing moves.
Israel was attacking even before Hamas appeared. Israel is terrorist organizaton.
[comment deleted: I don’t discuss, defend or explain the way I interpret editorial rules. The rules are there to read.]
Do you have a Palestinian sources who can inform us on what Hamasniks were thinking when they launched their rockets at Israeli civilian towns and cities?
It would make for some really excellent reportage.
@ Veni: You win the award for the lamest attempt at snark this week. And competition was extremely intense for the prize.
No, but I don’t need any such sources to tell you that Hamas fighters were far more sure of the righteousness of their cause than these pilots were.
Most religious fanatics are sure of the righteousness of their cause, meanwhile the rest of us have our doubts.
Is there any reason you still don’t have a Palestinian ‘source’?
I guess I’ll be the one to point out that the Occupied Territories are, well, occupied. The UN has been telling Israel to leave (truly leave) them for 54 years. Hamas has full legal and moral right to fight back (literally, explicitly; I’ll cite the UN statements if you want), while Israel has zero standing whatsoever to be doing anything in or to Gaza.
Israel clearly has few qualms with knowingly butchering civilians (and I’m not remotely interested in debating this blatantly obvious fact), but even if this wasn’t the case, arguing about whether a target is Hamas and thus ‘valid’ is a total boondoggle. It is a framing that is itself inherently Hasbara dishonesty. Because *no* target in the Occupied Territories is a valid target for the IDF.
If you want Hamas to stop waging war on Israel, perhaps start with Israel ending its war on the Occupied Territories. End the blockade, take down the walls, remove the settlers. Oh, what’s that, Zionists aren’t going to do any of that? Then the rockets will continue to fly.
Why would you say “ But the wanton destruction of buildings which clearly had no military purpose”? The pilots said they had a military purpose. Hamas told people not to discuss the what was happening in the targets Israel selected. So how can you categorically say that Israel bombed these targets for no reason except to harm civilians? It’s clear Hamas used civilian infrastructure to attack civilians in Israel. That’s a clear war crime.
@ RObert F.:
Because unlike you, I’ve done research, read news reports (both Israeli and foreign) which have said precisely that. YOU also apparently didn’t read Amira Hass’ report which explicitly showed that Israel was deliberately exterminating entire families. 20 entire families wiped out in the last round of fighting.
NO, that’s not clear at all. But if it’s true I’m more than prepared for Palestinian militants to face prosecution–as long as Netanyahu, Kochavi and Gantz are in the dock alongside them.
UNRWA Director admits, “So yes, they didn’t hit – with some exceptions – civilian targets, but the viciousness, ferocity of the strikes was heavily felt.”
Precision bombings and no War Crimes, except those committed by Hamas.
@ Rev. Washington: I warned you that Jerusalem Post is not a credible source. I wouldn’t trust a quotation from the Post if my life depended on it. Second, the quotation as featured in the Post makes no sense. The director of UNWRA knows firsthand that there were countless civilian targets struck by Israel. How else would 20 entire families have been mass murdered. That’s why there is something wrong with the quotation. Either you butchered it or the Post did.
“Precision bombing” killed 250 Palestinians?
I want to see you down in the streets of Gaza while the F-16s and F-35s bear down on you and butcher your entire family. Then you can spout your dreck about precision bombing.
You have a misunderstanding of the purpose of the comment threads. This is not a soccer match in which you try to shout louder than the fans of the opposite team. This is not a venue for you to spout hasbara or defense of Israeli war crimes.
I’m increasingly uncomfortable with your exploitation of my comment thread for promoting Israeli war crimes. If that is why you’re here then I warn you your stay will be short.
What’s uncomfortable for you, Silverstein, is the truth.
Deal with it!
@ Mighty Mouse: “The truth? You wouldn’t know the truth if it bit you in the ass! Isn’t it curious that every Palestinian in Gaza who actually suffered the onslaught while Schmale sat relatively comfortably in his UN office, is up in arms about his comment? How does he presume to know better than Gazans what targets were hit and whether they were civilian or military? Unless he’s getting briefings from the IAF or AMAN, his information is based on his opinion, which every Gazan rejects.
You apparently didn’t notice Schmale’s later tweet:
You are right on the edge of moderation. Consider this a warning.
@HubrisAfrodite, you say “[p]recision bombings and no War Crimes”, & you speak of “the truth”. In today’s Haaretz, Amira Hass reports, “[t]he director of the United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees in Gaza apologized Tuesday for remarks he made to Channel 12” (‘Following backlash, UNRWA director apologizes for saying Israeli army rarely attacked civilians’). https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium.HIGHLIGHT-unrwa-director-apologizes-for-saying-israeli-army-rarely-attacked-civilians-1.9843814?utm
Matthias Schmale had been interviewed by Arad Nir on ‘World Order’. Hass again: “At Nir’s request to respond to claims by Israeli spokespersons that the bombardments had been precise, Schmale said: ‘I am not a military expert. I would not dispute that. I also have the impression that there is a huge sophistication in the way that the Israeli army struck over the past 11 days. This is not my issue. So yes they did not hit, with some exceptions, civilian targets. But the viciousness and ferocity of the strikes was heavily felt.’” As any expert knows, one shouldn’t stray beyond one’s competence; & Schmale is no forensic munitions-damage expert. (It’s why even Ayel Weizman’s group calls on the right experts when needed – https://forensic-architecture.org.)
Hass ended by reporting, “In an email to UNRWA employees in Gaza, Schmale wrote that his statements on Israeli television had ‘offended and hurt those who had family members and friends killed and injured during the war that has just ended.’ Schmale expressed regret for the pain he caused them and wrote: ‘Military precision and sophistication are never a justification for war. There is no justification whatsoever for killing civilians … Many people were killed or have been severely injured by direct strikes or collateral damage from strikes. In a place as densely populated as Gaza, any strike will have huge damaging effects on people and buildings.”
This wasn’t a war, it was a massacre. It isn’t a conflict, it’s settler-colonisation. There is no cycle, it’s a process of colonial consolidation & expansion.
A social group, owning at most 6% of a territory in Apr1948, issued a revolutionary declaration of separation & independence. It waged war, stole land, drove the natives out, murdering as many as it deemed necessary. It continues to try to pacify the natives. And in claiming to be the state of all Jews, not even that of Jewish-Israelis (let alone of either its citizens or its residents), it proudly advertises to the world that this is Jewish ethics in practice, a continuing demonstration of Jewish morality. This alone, @HubrisAfrodite, is one reason why so many who consider themselves Jews, or Jew-ish, are disgusted by the behaviour of these pretenders.
With the coming of the end of a world system energised by fossil fuel, the strategic importance of Israel for the USA diminishes. The Israeli state managers have perhaps only 50 years, not 100 years, to make a territory free of ‘Arabs’.
“A social group, owning at most 6% of a territory in Apr 1948”
For starters, in April 1948, Jews made up one-third the population of Palestine.
Let’s not minimize that ‘social group’.
Seeing as you have the facts at hand, please tell us how much of the territory of Palestine was owned by Arabs in April 1948, and how much of the territory of Palestine was State-owned land and wasteland in April 1948? Credible cites, if you have them please.
As far as the ‘massacre’, ~250 out of 2.5 million Gazans died.
How many of the 250 were combatants, and how many of the 250 died when Hamas and IJ rockets fell short and landed on their houses in Gaza?
Again, credible cites please, if you have them.
And Jara, please don’t change my name.
@ Mighty Whitey:
That has no bearing on the ownership of the land. Whether they made up 1% or 100% of the population is irrelevant. The fact is that they owned a very small percentage of the land and the way they came to possess the vast majority of it was through illegal theft and conquest.
Hey, you’re not administering tests and Jara isn’t taking one. She doesn’t owe you shit. So don’t talk to her as if she owes you any answewrs or explanations.
There was no “state” in 1948 so there were no “state-owned lands.” As for “wasteland,” what does that even mean? THis is a western term which has no bearing on land use in the Mandate period. And the lands which Israeli Jews stole were not “wasteland.” They stole land which was populated and which was valuable farmland.
Comment rule: do NOT minimize death and suffering of anyone. This is my final warning to you. Moderation is next.
Further, since 1948 Israel has killed nearly 40,000 Palestinians. And if you want to minimize the deaths of 250 Palestinians let’s make the same calculation of Israeli deaths. Say there were 250. Would you say: only 250 out of 9 million died? Of course you wouldn’t. Because you’re a frigging racist hypocrite.
Do you say the same thing about Israeli deaths? Do you say: well, he was only an IDF soldier so his death doesn’t count? No, of course you don’t you friggin’ hypocrite.
By Israeli calculation (severely suspect) 15% of rockets fell in Gaza. NOne, as far as I know, landed on civilian homes in Gaza.
Cut out the crap. She doesn’t owe you s*t.
[Comment deleted: comment rules clearly state that a comment must contain an argument. A link alone as you have done is not a legitimate comment.]
The title is very misleading and doesn’t convey the message from the Mako article. If you look on the bright side, the Israel state is very good with criticism we do not silence not flattering comments on our state activity, unlike many other states.
Gaza is the weak side so there is no way to make it seems OK for people around the world who always support the underdog. The bottom line is WE DO NOT ACCEPT MISSLES ON OUR CITIZENS and it doesn’t matter who launches these missiles, it can be a state, a village, a group of people. In any case, we’ll defend ourselves and do our best to prevent such attacks in the future.
@ Itay: this is a total lie. The Israeli state has military censorship. If you’d bother to read several hundred of the posts I’ve published here all of them recounting the censors suppression of critical stories embarrassing to the intelligence or military apparatus, you’d know how full of crap you are.
As for silencing criticism, you’ve clearly not participated in the massive protests against Bibi at which police beat up protesters; or the protests by Israeli Jewish activists against military operations in Gaza or Lebanon at which police and right wing thugs beat them up.
If you don’ t accept missiles, then stop firing bullets, grenades and tear gas into Muslim holy sites. Without your Border Police incitement there would be no missiles. Very simple.