When Death Rains Death Reigns
We have heard about the suicide bombing in Tel Aviv that killed 5 Israeli civilians and injured 50. The fifth victim of the attack just died today; twenty more Israelis are hospitalized.
One facet of this sad event really has me struggling to wrap my mind around it. I'll offer you the quote that has me uncomfortable:
The platoon commander, Eran Cohen, told Army Radio, "There were 13 of us there. All the fatalities are from our unit. Many more were wounded."
Eran called the unit's soldiers "the best of the best. Israel's elite."
"In the past five years of this war, we have carried out virtually every single mission in the territories and underwent nearly every kind of attempted attack. In five years, none of our troops were wounded. It's ironic that we were hit so hard in one explosion on a Friday night in Tel Aviv, just before a party," Cohen said.
He added that Buzaglo was "a person of the highest quality. He was an older guy who had already completed his reserve duty. He was exempted from further service but came to us only because of his voluntary spirit."
You'll note that I have used the google cached version of the Jeruselem Post article. The version available today, updated, doesn't contain the quote.
Under Geneva Conventions
"protected persons" are identified as those "taking no active part in the hostilities, including members of armed forces … placed hors de combat [out of combat] by sickness, wounds, detention, or any other cause."
It took researching this piece to understand what the line is between soldiers and civilians in a near totally militarized society. I have to admit that I don't understand how military service in Israel works. I ask for leads on this, please send me some illuminating links.
I guess that Israeli state sanctioned assasinations in the Occupied Territories are what have blurred this line for me. When reading about the countless bystanders killed as one militant is targeted by a one ton bomb dropped on his crowded apartment building killing 14 other people and injuring scores of others it can, sadly, lead one to wonder.
Just before midnight on 22 July 2002, the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) dropped a one-ton bomb on a densely populated neighbourhood of Gaza city. Nine children, most of them under the age of 10, were amongst the 17 killed. Dina Matar was just two months old and Ayman Matar 18 months. Muhammad Raed Matar was three, Diana Raed Matar five, Subhi Mahmud al-Hweiti four, Muhammad Mahmud al-Hweiti six, Ala Muhammad Matar 10, Iman Salah Shehada 15 years old. Maryam Matar, 17 years old, was seriously injured in the attack and died on 15 August.
More than 70 other people were wounded. Leading Hamas activist Salah Shehada, who was among those killed, was accused by the Israeli authorities of organizing attacks against Israelis. Given the location of the target, in a densely populated residential area, and the method of attack chosen, the authorities must have known that civilians, including children, would be killed. The following day Israel's Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon, called the attack "one of the most successful operations".
Mr Sharon has a history of being involved in war crimes. Nine Israeli womens peace groups supported his prosecution for the IDF sanctioned murders in the Sabra and Shatila camps massacres in occupied Lebanon. He was found "indirectly responsible" by an Israeli state inquiry. One witness against him was blown up with a car bomb 48 hours after agreeing to testify in Brussels to Sharons crimes. Another was shot with a gun with a silencer in Brazil. His wife was also killed. Sharon was never tried in Belgium.
Yonathan Shapira, an Israeli pilot is of different opinion than Mr Sharon- but as you'll see he takes the basic values of the Israeli Defense Forces to heart. Read what Israeli government figures say about the following letter.
I want to read to you two of the basic values of the Israel Defense Forces.
Human Dignity: The IDF and its soldiers are obliged to honor human dignity. Each human being should be respected, regardless of his race, creed, nationality, gender, status or his social role.
Purity of arms: The soldier will use his weapons and his might only to achieve his objective, to the degree that this is required for the purpose, and will retain his humanity even during battle. The soldier will not use his weapons and his might to hurt persons who are not fighters, or prisoners, and will do everything in his power to prevent an assault on their life, their body or their property.
Let's go back now to the night between 22 to 23 of July 2002. It is late at night, the F16 squadron is at the air force base. The crew which is on-call consists of a pilot and a navigator. Scramble to Gaza. Waiting for the order to attack. The order is received. The bombs are dropped. Landing. Debriefing, and return to routine.
On this specific mission a one-ton bomb was dropped (equal to a hundred suicide bombs) on a house in the Al-Deredg quarter in Gaza, one of the most crowded neighborhoods in Gaza, indeed in the whole world. During this action 14 human beings were killed and more than 150 others were wounded. Four families, 9 children, 2 women and 2 men, were wiped out by the crew of the airplane that executed this mission and hit the target in the full belief that they were defending Israelis. They honestly believed this.
This is what Dan Halutz (commander of the air force) had to say about the mission: "I declare that everything taking place before the mission is justified according to my moral compass..."
And to the pilots he said: "Sleep well tonight... "you executed this mission perfectly."
We did not sleep well that night, and we continued not to sleep when:
On August 31, 2002 - when Darama was annihilated and with him 4 children.
On April 8, 2003 - when Arbid and Al-Halabi were annihilated and with them 2 children and 5 adults.
On June 10, 2003 - During an attempt to annihilate Rantisi, a girl, a woman and 5 men were killed.
On June 11, 2003 - when Abu-Nahal was annihilated and with him 2 women and 5 men.
On June 12, 2003 - when Salah Taha and with him a one-year old infant, a woman and 5 men were annihilated. And more, and more...
And also three months ago in a blitz of five attacks 2 wanted persons were wiped out and with them another 12 innocent people. Minister Effi Eitam and high officers in the IDF do not like the expression 'innocent Palestinians', they prefer to call them "bystanders". Altogether 211 persons were killed in the action, among these about half (86) onlookers.
And what kind of security did we get in return? Attacks and more attacks, we in our Apache and they in their suicide bombs, together in a dance of madness towards suicide.
So we did not sleep at night and we wrote this letter:
"We, air force pilots in reserve duty, who were raised on the values of Zionism, sacrifice and contributing to the State of Israel, we have always served on the front lines, willing to perform any assignment, difficult or simple, in order to protect the State of Israel and to strengthen her.
"We, veteran pilots and active pilots together, who served and still serve the State of Israel during long weeks each year, object to perform illegal and immoral orders of attacks that the State of Israel performs in the territories.
"We, who were raised to love the State of Israel and to contribute to the Zionist enterprise, refuse to take part in the attacks of the air force in concentrations of civilian population.
"We, for whom the IDF and the air force are inseparable parts of us, refuse to continue and harm innocent civilians.
"These actions are illegal and immoral and are a direct result of the ongoing occupation, which corrupts Israeli society as a whole.
"The continuation of the occupation delivers a mortal blow to the security of the State of Israel and to her moral strength.
"We who serve as active pilots - fighters, leaders, and instructors of the next generation of pilots - declare hereby that we shall continue to serve in the IDF and the air force in every assignment in the defense of the State of Israel."
We spoke to more than a hundred pilots, among them veteran commanders in the air force, many were afraid to sign but supported our idea - and as proof: nobody leaked even a word. And maybe it is important to tell you on this occasion in short who signed the letter. This is an opportunity to get to know some of those "traitors who aided terrorism."
I will start with the active pilots: Major Yotam - active Apache-pilot, Captain Tomer - active F-16-pilot, Captain Ran - active fighter-navigator, Captain Zur - active F-16-navigator, Captain Alon - active Blackhawk-pilot, Captain Amnon - active Blackhawk-pilot, Captain Yonathan - active Blackhawk-pilot, Captain Asaf - active F-15-pilot, and instructor in the field of fighting at the school of flying, Lieutenant-colonel Eli - fighter pilot and active instructor at the school of flying, Brigadier-general Yiphtah Spector - fighter pilot and active instructor at the school of flying.
Makes you proud to be human, doesn't it.
According to the article by UPI Journalist Richard Sale "Israel to Kill in US, Allied Nations" it seems Israel will be able to carry out these killings here, in America.
Since Sharon became Israeli prime minister, Tel Aviv has mainly limited its practice of targeted killings to the West Bank and Gaza because "no one wanted such operations on their territory," a former Israeli intelligence official said.
Another former Israeli government official said that under Sharon, "diplomatic constraints have prevented the Mossad from carrying out 'preventive operations' (targeted killings) on the soil of friendly countries until now."
He said Sharon is "reversing that policy, even if it risks complications to Israel's bilateral relations."
A former Israeli military intelligence source agreed: "What Sharon wants is a much more extensive and tough approach to global terrorism, and this includes greater operational maneuverability."
Does this mean assassinations on the soil of allies?
"It does," he said.
"Mossad is definitely being beefed up," a U.S. government official said of the Israeli agency's budget increase. He declined to comment on the Tel Aviv's geographic expansion of targeted killings.
Keep an eye out for Hellfire missiles.
I'm guessing that you have not heard about the aggressive actions of the Israeli government occupation forces. I am attempting to illuminate hypocrisy, not keeping score- Israeli or Palestinian, each life matters, each senseless killing leaves mourning parents, siblings, a constellation of loved ones that ripple through the initially affected society and into that of the whole of people living in Palestine/Israel. But in America my experience shows that Israeli deaths are reported while equally tragic Palestinian deaths fall under our domestic news radar.
I'll offer this link to the Palestine Centre for Human Rights that documents the people shot, beaten and subjected to Israeli governmental force between February 17 and 23. Before the murders by bomb in Tel Aviv.
Remember the quote from Mr Sharon:
"We agreed that all Palestinians will stop all acts of violence against all Israelis everywhere. . . . Israel will cease all its military activity against all Palestinians anywhere."
Arthur Schopenhauer on The Cell Phone.
Convenient but bothersome, eh?