Peace Never

Hamas fires shells at Israeli civilians. The Israel Defense Forces bomb Palestinian civilians. Lather, rinse, repeat. Each side rants about how it only responds to the other’s outright provocations.

[Link] Israeli troops surrounded a mosque in Gaza early on Friday where 60 Palestinian gunmen were holed up, witnesses said, pushing ahead with one of their biggest offensives in the strip in months.

Sixteen Palestinians have been killed, more than half of them militants, since Israeli troops entered the north Gazan town of Beit Hanoun on Wednesday. One Israeli soldier has been killed in the operation.

(…)

The assault is one of the biggest in the Palestinian territories since Israel launched an offensive in Gaza to try to force the release of the soldier and halt rocket fire.

More than 280 Palestinians have been killed in the four-month-old offensive, about half of them civilians. Three Israeli soldiers have been killed.

I know it’s not official Israeli policy to target civilians. But it wasn’t intentional Dixiecrat policy to support lynching, either; most Dixiecrats simply preferred to deny its existence or say all victims deserved it.

When you order the first incursion, intentions matter. But once you know how many civilians your incursions kill, it no longer matters what you’d ideally like. It’s all about priorities – I doubt that any pro-Israeli would support someone who said all anti-terrorist activity must cease without regard for the consequences, even if that someone sincerely opposed terrorism.

An IDF commander who’s serious about saving lives wouldn’t issue insincere statements about official policy. He’d tell his subordinates that he’d treat people who fail to execute an operation without killing civilians the same way he treats people who fail to prevent terrorist attacks. When they don’t try to kill civilians it may not be murder, but it’s gross incompetence, acquiescing to which is negligence.

But as far as I can tell, no such commander exists. A country that’s so cavalier about civilian casualties is no different from a country that deliberately seeks to kill civilians. As we saw in Lebanon, the distinction is practically nonexistent. The adage that every sufficiently advanced incompetence is indistinguishable from malice is key here. Foreign policy realists have long claimed that failing to prevent attacks is no different from directly killing civilians; if it’s true, then it goes both ways.

16 Responses to Peace Never

  1. SLC says:

    As usual, Mr. Levy fails to provide the whole story, in particular, what is behind the latest incursions into the Gaza strip in the first place. The answer is, the Kassems which are being fired from areas vacated by Israel last year, Arial Sharons’ biggest mistake. Now, of course, Mr. Levy will say that the Kassems’ haven’t killed anybody (yet). That is hardly the point. I suggest that if sombody in Brooklyn was firing Kassems at the building housing Mr. Levys’ dorm room, he would expect the NYPD to do something about it. Well, the residents of Sderot expect the Israeli Government to do something about the Kassems landing in their town.

  2. Alon Levy says:

    I’d expect NYPD to do something about it, without killing innocent Brooklynites. If it couldn’t, I’d consider it murderously incompetent, just like if it couldn’t do anything at all.

  3. SLC says:

    The notion that IDF commanders are cavilier about killing civilians is a bunch of crap. In my opinion, the idiot Olmert should ask himself one question: what would the late Hafaz Assad do if he were sitting in my chair and was faced with the terrorist activities of the Palestinians. We know what the answer to that question is from the actions taken in 1982 in the City of Hama, Syria. These actions extremely effective, the terrorists who were hiding there (those whose tickets were not cancelled) learned their lesson and have refrained from terrorist activities in Syria since that day.

  4. Alon Levy says:

    The goal of counterterrorism should be to ensure innocent civilians don’t die.

  5. SLC says:

    Re Levy

    That’s a nice sentiment. However, the execution of this sentiment becomes difficult when the terrorists hide behind civilians and disguise themselve in womens clothes, such as occurred in the recent siege of the mosque in Gaza. The fact is that most of the terrorists got away because the IDF soldiers were reluctant to fire into a crowd of female civilians. Doesn’t sound like a cavilier disregard for civilian casulties to me.

  6. Bushbaptist says:

    The issue here is to deal with the root cause. Treat the disease and the symptoms disappear.
    One can not use a standing army against guerrillas, it simply doesn’t work. Remove the gurrellas cause the the problem goes away.
    Look, Israel is a state that was born from blood and fire and if they are not careful, it will disappear in blood and fire.
    Both sides need to step back and genuinely negotiate a settlement with no pre-conditions from either side.
    Outside of the US Israel has less and less support and it simply can’t survive without that support.
    Take the Lebanon attack: Bush spouting that Iran and Syria should stay out of it whilst Israel is dropping bombs with Made in the USA all over them. That may be missed by the average American but not so with the local people in that region.

  7. SLC says:

    Re Bushbaptist

    Like the sentiments from Mr. Levy, this suggestion sounds fine. Unfortunately, all previous attempts to implement such a strategy have failed because the two sides are too far apart in their demands. The Palestinians have not yet concluded that the State of Israel is here to stay and still dream of a Palestinian State which includes all of Palestine. Until such time as they decide to face reality, the current state of affairs will continue. On the other side, most of Israeli public sentiment has reconciled itself to the eventual creation of a Palestinian State in Gaza and the West Bank, the major disagreement between the various factions being the location of the boundaries.

  8. Bushbaptist says:

    I note your comments but I am saddened by your mis-information. You are still laying the blame on the Palestinians for the issues. That is simply not completely true. As I said “there are faults on both sides”.
    An analogy: If you should come home one night to find some-one else had occupied your home, what would you do? Would you say gee wizz because some big fella in the sky says that they have the right to your property, they can have it? Or would you fight to recover your property? I know that I would fight back, just like the Palestinians are doing.
    If brutalising people works, then why has the issues not gone away?
    It is also very sad about the mind-set, especially in the US, that when the IDF kills many civilians it’s an ‘unfortunate accident’ and the when the Palestinians reciprocate it’s ‘terrorism’.
    Remember that one persons ‘freedom fighter’ is anothers ‘Terrorist’.
    Using the modern mind-set criteria, the French and Dutch resistance fighters in WW II were ‘terrorists too. But, gee they weren’t because they WERE ON OUR SIDE!!

  9. SLC says:

    Re Bushbaptist

    1. As an American, I am in no position to criticize the Israelis as the entire North and South American continents were stolen from narive Americans who were forced out of their homes by interlopers from Spain, Portugal, England, and France. The Israelis will turn over the State of Israel to the so-called Palestinians when the nations of North and South America turn over their countries to the decendents of the original natives, if they could be found.

    2. As usual with Palestinian apologists, Mr. Bushbaptist falls for the entirely erroneous claim that Arabs living in Palestine in 1948 were decendents of people who had lived their for centuries. This is seriously in error. The American author Mark Twain visited Palestine in the 1850s and found it almost depopulated. The city of Tel Aviv did not exist and the village of Jaffa just to the West had fewer people then his home town of Hannibal, Mo. He found Jerusalem to consist entirely of what is now called the old city with few inhabitants. The fact of the matter is that most of the population of Palestine in 1948 (both Arab and Jewish) was decendent from people who migrated there after 1850.

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