Did Israel Deliberately Target Palestinian Civilians?

(Updated Feb. 1, 09)

No. In fact Israel does its best not to and has to a large extent succeeded.

Seeing things

Viewers have seen an enormous number of camera images showing the wounded being taken to hospitals. We have seen them hastily being bundled into cars and ambulances. Then hurriedly being removed from the ambulances and taken into the hospitals.

As one who watched news times on Al Jazeera, CNN, BBC, Sky and Fox I wonder how come I did not see one wounded person in female garb being taken from the street into an ambulance? Did you? It certainly seems the Palestinians are still up to their filming tricks. Here is comment from a doctor who closely examined a video aired on CNN.

“I’m no military expert, but I am a doctor and this video is bullsh*t. The chest compressions that were being performed at the beginning of this video were absolutely, positively fake. The large man in the white coat was NOT performing CPR on that child. He was just sort of tapping on the child’s sternum a little bit with his fingers. You can’t make blood flow like that. Furthermore, there’s no point in doing chest compressions if you’re not also ventilating the patient somehow. ‘Note that they say the boy is dead, but still try reviving him…bad acting’.”

Chaos

This is not to suggest that Israel has not killed civilians. Even though they are certainly not on Israel’s target list, the death of civilians in a war zone is unfortunately inevitable. (As are deaths by friendly fire in every war.)

Col. Richard Kemp, a senior British advisor on military issues who was recently interviewed on BBC explained that there were chaotic episodes in every war. He clarified that mistakes were made in all armies (British and American too) and that chaos was part and parcel of war. Civilians who were used as human shields were particularly vulnerable. Apparently even the best trained soldiers make mistakes, there seldom being enough time for perfect decisions when the battle rages.

Kemp was obviously familiar with the military codes of behavior of the Israeli Defence Force. Answering the interviewer he said, “I don’t think there has ever been a time in the history of warfare when any army has made more efforts to reduce civilian casualties and deaths of innocent people than the IDF is doing today in Gaza.” This was not what the interviewer had expected. She was clearly taken aback. I imagine the BBC will not invite Col. Kemp to opine again as an expert witness on the Israel-Palestine conflict.

Targeting civilians

Hamas rocket and mortar fire have always been deliberately intended to kill Israeli civilians. Israel, on the contrary, has only intended to kill Hamas terrorists. Yet it is Israel which is under threat of being tried for war crimes. None of Israel’s indignant accusers have threatened Hamas with war crimes for firing on Israeli civilians these past 8 years. Talk about selective judgment!

The people of Israel are not bloody minded and its army genuinely sees no point in killing the enemy’s innocent civilians. Indeed, we believe this to be immoral and reprehensible. Nor is there any military benefit whatsoever – in fact it’s 100% counter productive. Israel is right to apologize for such killings. Have you ever heard a Hamas leader apologize?

Civilian shields

The number of Hamas civilian deaths would have been minimal were it not for their civilians in the war zones. Most such deaths were the result of firing at Hamas who were literally hiding behind their civilian shields in homes or buildings. Incredibly, dead civilians began to constitute a military advantage for Hamas: the more killed or wounded claimed, the more potent their TV propaganda. These images became a weapon far more effective than the Hamas military. A reminder that one should never underestimate the power of TV images to influence world opinion.

Odious comparisons

Remarkably, the horrendous number of civilian deaths in the US led coalition’s war on Iraq never created similar interest in world media. The TV reporting during the Iraqi war does not compare with the insatiable interest to depict Israel as a slavering aggressor – never as a brave defender. Compared to the approximately 1,300 dead in Israel’s short war on Hamas, a mere 98,521 civilian deaths were reported in the war on Iraq for the period 2003 to December 2008!

The millions of civilians killed in other troubled areas – Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Darfur, Sudan, Central African Republic, Somalia, Rwanda, Angola, Congo, Chechnya, Colombia, to name a few of the killing fields, is staggering. Nevertheless, the world’s journalists never descended en masse to any of these countries. Nothing to compare with their irrational preference for reporting Israel’s punitive mini wars against Hezbollah and Hamas terrorists.

What accounts for UN Secretary General, BanKi Moon, and UN Human Rights investigator, Richard Falk’s disproportionate interest in Israel’s mini wars? Neither has shown any similar interest in the numerous genuine civilian massacres, near genocidal bloodletting, and serious war crimes committed in the abovementioned countries?

Falk has become widely known for his anti-Israel stance, so we are not surprised. But Moon’s hounding of Israel is upsetting. He fulminates against Israel yet is disinterested in the indiscriminate slaughter and mayhem in Sri Lanka, Darfur et al. Such prejudiced criticism from the UN’s secretary is unwarranted and offensive. It is entirely unacceptable from someone who should be neutral. (Is he perhaps unnerved by the 57 Islamic countries who are members of the UN?)

Crusading journalists

Hamas proudly marched and arrogantly challenged Israel to come and get them. Their propaganda attempted to frighten Israeli soldiers with a menu of blood and guts that awaited them. They drooled at their vision of Israel’s soldiers being decimated by their ingenious, deadly booby traps and carefully planned ambushes.

When, after being showered by thousands of rockets and mortar fire for 8 years Israel finally cried “enough!” the world’s journalists fell over themselves in their scramble to get to Israel. Their media ratings stood to increase no matter what followed. If the Arabs gave Israel a bloody nose they would be praised for their courage. If Israel killed too many Hamas they could and did depict us as brutal Nazis deserving to be tried for war crimes. They just love to compare Jewish actions to that of Nazis even though this can never be true.

By and large the journalists did not bother to hide their preference for the so called “downtrodden” Palestinian refugees in Gaza. So called because over 80 percent have lived all their lives in Gaza! Yet for the past 60 years they have been forced by their co-religionists to remain downtrodden. They live by the charity of the United Nations and ironically, also depend on the generosity of their hated enemy Israel, for water, electricity, fuel, gas, medical supplies and much else. How they bite the hands of those who feed them.

Hamas’ victory

To no one’s surprise Hamas has claimed victory. Allow me to wish them similar success next time round.

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Jock’s note:

The grand total of civilian deaths from 6 years of violence in Iraq is documented at 98,521. Not all caused by the Coalition armies. Death from other violence (roadside bombings etc) is included. Here is the monthly table extracted from Wikipedia. The year on year total is 98,521.

2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008
Jan 3 576 1023 1430 2796 742
Feb 2 584 1189 1448 2494 977
Mar 3976 957 779 1767 2569 1538
Apr 3437 1256 1020 1589 2403 1260
May 545 619 1224 2097 2734 759
Jun 594 832 1215 2426 2086 669
Jul 649 762 1438 3150 2536 583
Aug 791 823 2165 2743 2325 591
Sep 551 943 1324 2406 1221 535
Oct 491 947 1199 2918 1185 526
Nov 479 1532 1201 2967 1043 467
Dec 529 906 989 2658 903 430
12,047 10,737 14,766 27,599 24,295 9,077

8 Responses to “Did Israel Deliberately Target Palestinian Civilians?”

  1. K.P. Says:

    I think of it this way. The Hamas put themselves underground and the civilians in the way of the shooting. Israelis did exactly the opposite. Now imagine that Israel had no civil defence, but the Gazans did. The kill ratio of civilians would have been hundreds of Israelis dead to few Gazans. That is the logical way of looking at the issue and it indicates that the disparity in civilian deaths was due to the way each side cared for its civilians, but I do not think it will convince anyone.

    emailed: January 25, 2009

  2. Dr. David G. Littman Says:

    If I recall correctly all foreign press organizations withdrew their news- men from Gaza because they feared for their safety at the hands of Hamas. They were concerned at the numerous kidnappings and were worried about the pressure brought to force newsmen to report Hamas’ version and their alleged statistics.
    Presumably when the war started they knew they would be more protected by Israeli Forces than the Hamas Forces having gone underground. Al Jazera provided the Hamas Statistics.

  3. Dr. I.H. Michigan Says:

    The table at the end does not include a massage ie the number of civilian killed in Iraq is about the same number who were killed in Gaza. Also we know that the numbers are inflated. This is what I wrote to NYT. You can use any part of it if you want.:

    Telling the truth by terrorist organizations such as Hamas and Hizballah is non existing proposition. Italian newspaper Corriere Della Sera reported Thursday that a doctor working in Gaza’s Shifa Hospital claimed that Hamas has intentionally inflated the number of casualties resulting from Israel’s operation in Gaza. “The number of deceased stands at no more than 500 to 600. Most of them are youths between the ages of 17 to 23 who were recruited to the ranks of Hamas, who sent them to the slaughter.”

    A Tal al-Hawa resident told the newspaper’s reporter, “Armed Hamas men sought out a good position for provoking the Israelis. There were mostly teenagers, aged 16 or 17, and armed. They couldn’t do a thing against a tank or a jet. They knew they are much weaker, but they fired at our houses so that they could blame Israel for war crimes.” Reporters in the Strip who told of Hamas’ exaggerated figures, “We have already said to Hamas commanders – why do you insist on inflating the number of victims?”

    These same reporters mentioned that the truth that will come out is likely to be similar to what occurred in Operation Defensive Shield in Jenin. “Then, there was first talk of 1,500 deaths. But then it turned out that there were only 54, 45 of which were armed men,” the Palestinian reporters told the Italian newspaper. While these reports contradict other reports it is clear that UN is collaborating with Hamas.

    Hamas officials in Gaza hospitals are part of the propaganda machine of Hamas. What is clear are three facts. One, the number of casualties in Gaza is much lower than official estimates. Second, Hamas men in civilian clothes are still Hamas soldiers and not civilians. Juveniles are not Gaza children if they have a gun in their hand, they are children combatant and soldiers of Hamas. Three, little attention was given to eight Gaza dissidents accused of collaboration with Israel who were executed by Hamas. It is quite likely that many more Gazans who oppose Hamas regime were killed by Hamas, taking the opportunity to blame Israel for their death.

  4. Dr. Isaac Barr Says:

    Hamas officials in Gaza hospitals are part of the propaganda machine of Hamas. What is clear are three facts. One, the number of casualties in Gaza is much lower than official estimates. Second, Hamas men in civilian clothes are still Hamas soldiers and not civilians. Juveniles are not Gaza children if they have a gun in hand, they are children combatant and soldiers of Hamas. Three, little attention was given to eight Gaza dissidents accused of collaboration with Israel who were executed by Hamas. It is quite likely that many more Gazans who oppose Hamas regime were killed by Hamas, taking the opportunity to blame Israel for their death.

  5. Mark Culermans, Spain Says:

    My suggestions: Publish wherever and whenever Muslims slaughter other Muslims. Whenever Muslims slaughter Christians, Hindus, Animists, Jews etc. Whenever casualty figures are published for all the wars being waged right now. Whenever there is no reaction from world bodies. The Israeli govt to bring charges against Palestinians for war crimes in International courts and for the continued incarceration of Gilad Shalit. Class actions in Israeli courts to be instituted against Hamas as duly elected govt for damages. And against NGO’s for libelous accusations against our soldiers for alleged war crimes. I’m sure that folk out there will think of many more things. The thing is it must be an all out offensive against Hamas, the Reds, the Ngo’s and all the rest of the detritus out there.

  6. Joe Weisman, New York Says:

    Hamas has clarified its intention to target Israel’s civilians in the most remarkable way. For while Israeli tanks and soldiers were massed on Gaza’s borders, within easy range of Hamas rockets, not one missile was fired in their direction! Hamas missiles were only aimed at Israel’s civilian population.

  7. Hertzel Katz Says:

    January 26, 2009

    I found your article clear and persuasive but the truth is that so called liberals and humanitarians [as defined in the 21st century] are myopic in their vision and I know not what would persuade them to open their eyes and see.

  8. Max Yas Says:

    In my opinion Israel did do everything possible to avoid civilian casualties. When American forces kill civilians it is called “Collateral Damage”. The same goes for Israel.

    At 10:49 AM 1/25/2009

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