Tag Archives: IDF

Israel Doesn’t Yet Know When To Apologize

A day after admitting there was need to investigate possible violations of proper military procedures by the Israel Defense Force in the Gaza Operation Cast Lead, the foreign ministry had to argue the invasion was proportionate to the challenge. “Israel’s resort to force in the Gaza Operation was both necessary and a proportionate response to Hamas’ attacks.” Israel definitely has an argument in support of the need to use force in response to ongoing Hamas rocket attacks, that is NOT the main criticism of the Gaza invasion. To argue killing 1,200(of whom about 900 were civilians) while losing fewer than ten people on your side suggests this is not a “proportionate” affair. Destroying vast areas of homes and businesses can hardly be justified on grounds there had to be a “response.”

Israel trots out once again the 12,000 rocket argument. No rational person would disagree with the argument there was need to response to this provocation. There were several options that were never explored such as a massive bombing focus on tunnels or occupying areas in which there were tunnels. An army which kills hundreds of innocent civilians at a loss of fewer than ten has made a serious human rights mistake.

Israel is doing the right thing in conducting an investigation into human rights violations by its soldiers, no Arab nation would engage in such an investigation. But, it is time for Israel to admit its error in killing innocent civilians and gain the respect of the world.

Israel Confronts Its Own Mistakes

The Israel government has decided to confront issues related to misbehavior on the part of members of the Israel Defense Force(IDF) during the recent invasion of Gaza. An army source angrily commented: “we do not need NGOs and rights groups to tell us to investigate ourselves. we know how to investigate on our own and have been open all along to receiving additional material from peace groups.” There is no doubt historically the IDF has been sensitive to violations of law by its members and willing to admit errors. The current investigation into fourteen cases of alleged abuses can only benefit Israel. There are allegations IDF soldiers looted Palestinian homes, beat prisoners and used Palestinians as human shields to avoid getting shot.

The good news is a decision by Israel’s military leaders that in the future civilians will be warned about possible bombings and even provide information to them on the best way to get to safety. An open trial with information publicly shared is the best defense against accusations of human rights violations.

What Happened In Gaza?

The invasion of Gaza will haunt Israelis for many years as evidence emerges that what was officially portrayed as a defensive action contained many aspects which were at variance with Israel law and morality. An Israel activist group, “Breaking The Silence” now offers testimony and videos which depict violations of international law on the part of Israel soldiers. Soldiers are quoted saying they were given orders, “better hit an innocent than hesitate to target an enemy” and they were warned in urban warfare anyone and everyone is your enemy. Entire streets and areas in Gaza were razed to minimize the risk of enemy snipers being able to hide. According to one soldier, “we did not get instructions to shoot at anything that moved, but we were generally instructed if you feel threatened, shoot.”

After the invasion concluded, Defense Minister Barak asserted the Israel army was the most moral in the world and it was unconscionable that anyone would question the army’s conduct. However, it is clear from actions of the Israel army they entered a fight in which one goal was to minimize casualties to soldiers and if that meant increasing casualties for civilians, so be it.

Unfortunately, the report can not reveal names of soldiers who gave testimony.

Israel Rabbis Urge IDF Soldiers To Disobey Orders

A group of leading rabbis have called upon members of the Israel Defense Force to disobey orders if they are asked to dismantle illegal settlements on the West Bank. “We call on all security personnel to refuse expulsion orders. A soldier or policeman who is asked to take part in an uprooting operation is obligated to refuse this order, which goes against the Torah.” Their statement came after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak initiated a plan to dismantle 26 outposts deemed to have been built illegally. During the past decades there has been a sharp rise in the number of religious Israelis who have made serving in the armed forces their career. In so doing, they are altering the historic secular foundation of Israeli armed forces. Rabbi Mordechai Rabinovitch, reflected this change by expressing the view, “I think it is a crying shame that not one single senior officer resigned rather than take part in the expulsion of Jews from Gus Katif.

Israelis have to decide whether they want a nation in which non-elected religious leaders decide policy or whether they wish to continue the democratic heritage of the Jewish people in the Middle East. Allowing a theocracy to control the nation is leading down the road to disaster and transforming Israel into another Iran or Saudi Arabia.

Did Israel Army Kill Civilians In Gaza?

The ongoing arguments concerning behavior of Israel soldiers during the invasion of Gaza still create tension. The Israel Defense Force (IDF) has been conducting a study as to claims that innocent civilians were killed during Operation Cast Lead. IDF Chief of Staff General Gabi Ashkenazi insists “the IDF is a moral army, but it is possible mistakes were made and innocent people were hurt” but he does not believe there was any systematic attempt to kill Gaza civilians. General Ashkenazi believes the operation was a success and that is the reason southern areas of Israel are not witnessing ongoing rocket attacks.

The bottom line is that at least 800 civilians were killed in an operation in which fewer than 20 soldiers died including several from friendly fire. The disproportionate figures suggest not sufficient attention was paid to preventing civilian deaths. Some eye witnesses in the IDF insist they witnessed civilians being killed. The IDF says there were no such deaths.

Perhaps it is time for an independent body to conduct the investigation.

Israel Gaza Plan- Protect Soldiers-Civilians??

Amos Harel, writing in Haaretz, reveals the Israel General Staff was quite aware there would be extensive civilian casualties and planned that soldiers would advance behind a “rolling curtain” of aerial and artillery fire with first consideration in the operation the safety of Israeli soldiers. Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkennazi made clear, “unlike in Lebanon, the civilians in Gaza won’t have many places to escape to. When an armored force enters the city, shells will fly because we have to protect our people.” Prime Minister Olmert and Foreign Secretary Tzipi Livni promised to support the plan since they feared heavy casualties would impact the upcoming election.

Israel intelligence Shin Beit defined the “enemy” as anyone connected to Hamas regardless if they worked in a welfare agency or were a member of an armed force. The person who made the final decision to fire at a target was not the commander on site but someone in the command center miles away. Testimonies of members of the IDF reveal forcing civilians to enter homes and get people to come out or firing at medical personnel and killing of innocent civilians.

The only way Israel can fulfill its destiny as a center of moral behavior is to conduct a thorough investigation and punish all those who were responsible for violating international law. Unfortunately, those on top such as senior military commanders will escape unpunished.

Bombing – Rockets- Bombing – Rockets And So On!

Israel launched the invasion of Gaza in order to destroy the capability of Hamas once and for all to cease firing rockets into southern regions of their nation. After three weeks of bloody shelling and air attacks, 1,300 Gazans are dead along with 13 Israelis, but rockets continue to come from Gaza. The Israel air force struck back with bombings of tunnels which carry goods in and out of Gaza. There is no question, the IDF has the power to completely wipe out Hamas although it would come at a cost of dead Israelis. Ironically, the belief that military power is the answer to problems in the region is one held by both Israel and Hamas. So far, there is no evidence this view has led to any other result than war and death.

Israel sources indicate the Olmert government would be willing to allow up to 75% of needed goods into Gaza in exchange for the release of the Israeli soldier held by Hamas. In on sense, the invasion of Gaza was as much about his life as the rocket attacks. This raises an intriguing moral issue– is the life of a single human allowed to decide whether or not hundreds die in the process of dealing with the issue? Each human life is precious, but there is no evidence the Israeli soldier has been killed. Diplomacy will eventually result in his freedom, but in the meantime his life can not be held up as justification for killing hundreds of innocent Palestinians.

Israel Soldiers Face War Crimes Issues

Defense Minister Ehud Barak is asking the Israel Cabinet to support Israeli soldiers who might be charged with crimes against humanity for their action in recent fighting in Gaza. He said it was the responsibility of the Cabinet “for sending IDF troops on missions as well as defending civilians” and thus the Cabinet must make certain that Israel soldiers can not be prosecuted for war crimes. Barak has ordered the IDF to investigate any examples of behavior of soldiers that might be construed to be in violation of international law.

Richard Falk, in independent UN rights expert is compiling evidence the IDF breached basic humanitarian rules and violated the rules of war by conducting large scale military operations against “an essentially defenseless population.”

As one who supports the existence of Israel as an independent nation and is aware that Hamas violated international law, there is scant doubt so did the IDF. it is a specious argument to say since a mortar attack came from a specific area, this gives permission to bomb without consideration for civilians in the area.

Is “Victory” In Gaza A “Defeat” For Israel?

Israel’s armed forces move relentlessly through the streets of Gaza blasting and killing anyone or obstacle in their way hoping the operation will ensure their nation has achieved “peace.” In the wake of the IDF lies the bodies of hundreds of innocent men, women, and children whose safety and security was deemed of lesser importance than the security of Israeli soldiers. President Abbas of the Palestinian Authority understands more than any Israeli official the folly of the war in Gaza which, in effect, has done incredible damage to moderate Palestinians by making them come across as ineffectual and “cowards” who take second place to the “brave members of Hamas.” The Israel government in one horrible explosion of hate and anger has given Hamas power and prestige in the entire Arab world.

The Palestinian Authority representative at the UN, Riyad Mansour accused Israel of war crimes and demanded the UN dispatch troops, if necessary, to ensure there is peace in Gaza. “The current situation is untenable and cannot be allowed to continue.” His government is desperately trying to do something to end killing in Gaza before the entire Palestinian nation shifts over to support for Hamas. Mansour accused Israel Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni of pretending to be interested in a diplomatic solution but using time in order to allow the IDF to continue its operations of death and destruction.

There is no question the IDF invasion reduced the possibility of rocket attacks on Israel, but at what price was this “victory” achieved? A major problem of Israeli leadership is seeking short term solutions rather than grasping the need for a permanent solution that ensures peace for their nation. What if there is an election and Hamas wins in both Gaza and the West Bank? What then, Israel? An invasion of the West Bank?

Lebanese Rockets-Israel Bombs–Dead Children!

Several rockets fired from Lebanon by extremist groups landed in northern Israel without resulting in any casualties or damage to facilities. Hizbullah is not claiming responsibility for the attack. In Gaza, Israel troops hammered their way into the heart of the city of Gaza as the death total rose to 971 including over 400 innocent men, women, and children. Jacob Kellenberger, head of the International Red Cross, said “it is unacceptable to see so many wounded people. Their lives must be spared and the security of those who care for them guaranteed.” Hamas representatives continued meeting in Cairo but insisted there would not be a cease fire unless Israel agreed to evacuate Gaza and end the blockade of Gaza while Israel wants an end to rocket attacks.

There is definitely the basis for a compromise under which Hamas promises to end any further rocket attacks and Israel promises to turn over responsibility for Gaza crossings to an international group that would work with Palestinian leaders in Gaza. The killing must end, NOW!