Israel -- The Right to Defend Itself?
A response to Ayesha Vahidy's article, "Israel and the Right to Defend Itself."
Ms. Vahidy initially panders in a seemingly civilized manner to the reader's presumed sense of fair-play by acknowledging Israel's obvious right of defense, a right that has always been both morally and legally substantiated.
She then launches into a presumption of "murder" by Israel's air force, operating with "unchecked moral license" from the skies of Gaza. It is most apt at this time to review the evidence of Colonel Richard Kemp, commander with the British forces, NATO, and the UN. He confirms therein that the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) do more to safeguard civilians than any army in the history of warfare.
Ms. Vahidy then dives into an emotionally based assumption with no facts to support her: that the Vietnam My Lai debacle, where innocents were specifically targeted by Marines, was comparable to the deaths of "so called" innocents in Gaza; only Israel's obvious crime is much larger. So called because the ultimate responsibility for Gaza civilian deaths must fall squarely on the shoulders of Hamas, who routinely use their citizenry as human shields. So not only is it a war crime for Hamas to target civilian areas in Israel with rockets (12,000 since January 2006 and 1,500 during the last 8 day war), but it is a second war crime to intentionally place their munitions dumps, rocket placements and military installations in apartment buildings, on public roofs, next to or below schools, hospitals and mosques.
Ms. Validy quotes selectively and out of context statements by various parties who did not directly design or prosecute Israel's defensive 8 day incursion into Gaza, but whose rhetoric she claims are "fevered dreams of genocide". She makes no distinction between individual and arbitrary opinions emanating from a broad democracy, opinions that she has seemingly conjured up from the "Googlesphere", and the official policy of IDF which is never to target civilians as well as going to extraordinary lengths to reduce collateral damage.
If Hamas conducted even barely civilized warfare, they would be easily defeatable in the fields of Gaza. As it is, they survive only in the overpopulated warren that is Gaza city, hiding behind children and women -- their martyrs. The intention of Hamas is never to fight a real war, only a propaganda war with a willing and sympathetic media. Israel distributes pamphlets from the skies, computer generated text messages and phone calls to Gaza's citizenry in a valiant attempt to advise them to disconnect physically from any nearby Hamas military target. Unfortunately many do not believe the veracity of these warnings. Others are persuaded otherwise by Hamas, whose media and propaganda arms ghoulishly feed on tragic deaths that befall the children and others caught up in this never ending cauldron of war.
Nowhere does Ms. Vahidy clarify that but for the thousands of rockets and terror attacks, Israel would not have responded -- no war would have eventuated. It is the senders of these indiscriminate rockets that are ultimately responsible for these civilian deaths, not the defenders in Israel.
Ms. Vahidy continues her emotional tirade, presuming that the only fully fledged democracy in the Middle East, Israel, is run by a few genocidal terrorists (albeit in words only), yet at the same time she somehow excuses the decades of terrorism and war coming from Gaza because of the innocents imbedded within that society. So in her upside-down perspective, those with distasteful words in Israel are more responsible for this mayhem than those in Gaza who actually run and control the society and who send rockets towards Israeli schools and hospitals -- hospitals that ironically treat Gazans who are unable to get needed medical attention in their own State. Furthermore whilst rockets were flying Israel continued on a daily basis to supply Gaza with gas, medical supplies, electricity and water -- strange behavior for this supposedly rapacious and genocidal regime.
So the issue of disproportionality is suggested, that Israel is somehow the warmonger. I do beg to differ:
Gaza, during the recent 8 day war, fired approximately 1,500 rockets towards civilian areas in Israel with the express intention of maximizing civilian casualties -- no confusion there. It is not reported that up to 100 of the Hamas rockets misfired and fell back into civilian areas in Gaza. Furthermore, for Hamas to focus on confronting the Israeli military directly would be far too risky for these brave militants intent on safeguarding their supremacist vision of a victorious Islamic Caliphate.
In contrast, the IDF conducted a similar amount of targeted responses to roughly 1,500 terror sites including 980 underground rocket launchers, 140 smuggling tunnels, 30 senior Hamas and Islamic Jihad terrorists, 61 Hamas operation and command centers. It is indeed remarkable that considering the air forces‚ significant power and sophistication, and the huge number of sorties, that the death toll in Gaza was not higher.
Unlike Israel, Gaza intentionally has no bomb shelters or air raid sirens for its population. Much money and concrete from international donors have rather been almost exclusively used for Hamas bunkers, rocket launchers, command centers and tunnels. That is why far fewer Israeli civilians died. However, if Israel copied Hamas exactly and proportionally and sent 1,500 rockets indiscriminately into civilian areas, then 5,000 or 10,000 casualties would easily have eventuated, not 100 including avowed terrorists. Remember by comparison that there were roughly 25,000 casualties from a single night of the Allies bombing Dresden during World War II.
When one writes such an article as Ms. Vahidy has done, with clear animus towards the Israelis, based on an ever present, negative agenda, then one ends up with a rant that has no reasonable basis in reality. If Israel wanted to carpet bomb Gaza, Gaza would cease to exist. If civilian casualties were on their radar, then Gaza would be a wasteland with 1.5 million refugees on their way to Cairo. Truth be told, the genocidal maniacs are really all in Gaza, plotting with Hezbollah and Ahmadinejad on how to destroy Israel; whilst the Israelis with all the military might in the world, conducts the most selective and restrained targeted responses the world has ever known, hoping to live in peace whilst praying for quiet; wishing to be left alone for another few months, so their children can have a full night‚s sleep, without nightmares, without bomb shelters.
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