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.