MideastWeb Middle East Web Log
This past week an Israeli missile targeting Hamas terrorists wounded numerous Palestinian bystanders who had gathered to offer first aid following a first missile strike. Official Israeli sources denied that the IAF had fired into the crowd, and offered videos of the strike to show that pilots had not seen the crowds. Nonetheless, there were many injured civilians. Though Israel never targets civilians as a matter of policy, there are increasing concerns that IAF and IDF personnel are careless or deliberately careless, and that the implementation of policies that are bound to lead to "collateral damage" amounts to deliberate targetting of civilians.
Israeli actions are clearly not as bad as sometimes depicted in the Arab press, but the large number of Palestinian casualties, and the numerous incidents in which children were killed after soldiers "fired into the air" suggest that all is not as it should be. Israeli apologists are quick to point out that "we are better than the Hamas" "We don't deliberately target civilians" and "We do not do the terrible things imputed to us in the Arab press." Unfortunately "better than Hamas" is not saying much. It is really pitiful if any self-respecting society uses racist religious fanatics as the standard by which to measure its behavior.
Meanwhile, Israel has added yet another unhappy "incident" to the history of the Intifada, invading a hospital and Balata refugee camp to arrest terrorists, and in the process has injured many bystanders, including International Solidarity Movement (ISM) activists. Of course ISM is there to shield terrorists and "support the resistance," and of course they hide behind their own nonviolence to do so. However, it is still wrong to kill civilians who block bulldozers, even if the bulldozers are destroying tunnels used to smuggle weapons, as happened in the case of Rachel Corrie, an IDF activist in Gaza. Now the IDF has added several more such "martyrs." Let's face it, at minimum, the ISM has posed a tough moral and operational dillema for Israel, even if they are not on moral high ground, and Israel has failed miserably to even try to meet the challenge. It is not sufficient to retreat behind the idea that you "know" you are right, because others "know" with equal certitude that you are wrong, and Americans and Canadians are not going to take kindly to the IDF killing and injuring their kids. Once again, as in Gaza, there is an AP account of the invasion carried by Ha'aretz, a slightly different version given by the BBC and a different story, told this time by ISM. In the BBC story, the terrible injuries that ISM claims were inflicted on its personnel become minor shrapnel wounds incurred incidentally. Israel claims that at least one of the "patients" they arrested was in perfect health, indicating that Palestinians are once again using medical facilities as a means of protecting terrorists. Previously, Israel incurred the ire of human rights groups by firing at ambulances, which Israelis claim are used to transport suicide bombers and explosive belts. The IDF has a video to document this claim, but thus far it is apparently an isolated incident in three years of fighting. Who is telling the truth and how do we know? It doesn't matter so much. Anyone who raids a hospital or fires on an ambulance or kills or wounds an international non-violent "activist" is looking for trouble, and they will get it. The operational value of such actions must be weighed carefully against the huge damage they are certain to do to Israeli image. The operational value of killing ISM activists is 0. It is inexcusable. There were two such incidents. The best that can be said is that there is a possibility it was an accident due to negligence, and that isn't good enough.
Of course, Israel doesn't do all the terrible things imputed to it in the Arab press. The Arab press accuses Israel of poisoning Palestinian kids, giving them AIDS, and plotting mass extermination. In order to be as bad as the Arab press says Israel is, the IDF would have to be a cross between the hordes of Genghis Kahn and the Waffen SS. It is "bad enough" when dozens of women and children, including infants, are killed and wounded. It is "bad enough" not for the Palestinians, but for Israel, because in this war for public opinion, it is likely that the winner will be the side that kills and maims the least number of people.
It is hard for an 18 year old to understand that "kicking butt" against kids that are sometimes almost his own age, but are armed only with a rock and an attitude, or acting discourteously to a lady going about her business, has negative strategic value and is harming both the cause of Israel and the cause of peace. 18 year old draftees usually don't know too much about human rights and war crimes statutes either. The IDF and Israeli society have put these soldiers in a difficult, perhaps an impossible positions. They have also not done nearly enough to educate soldiers in humanitarian behavior toward civilians, not at check points nor in searches, nor in opening fire on threatening crowds.
Israeli peace activist Uri Avnery and Ha'aretz editor Ze'ev Schiff take opposite views of the question of IAF guilt in Gaza, and Uri Avnery also examines the wider issues. ISM and Ha'aretz provide opposite views of the incursion in Nablus.
Whom to Believe? Well...
"Whom do you believe?" asked General Ya'akov Amidror on TV with subdued anger, "the army spokesman
General (reserves) Amidror is the highest religious officer in our army. In the past he has raised
His question was intended to be rhetorical. After all, the answer is self-evident: on one side there
But, according to Amidror himself, the reverse is happening. The world believes Hamas and does not
The crisis of confidence was revealed in all its harshness by a series of events last week in the
"A big lie!" the Army Spokesman angrily announced. The army did not fire another missile at all. It
So there are two opposing versions, which are completely incompatible. A matter of either-or. One of
The Palestinian version is supported by the TV and video coverage of the killed, the funerals, the
This time even the heavy artillery joined the battle, headed by Haaretz military commentator Ze'ev
To reinforce its own story, the Air Force published, after a delay of 24 hours, a clip shot during
So here we have a perfect riddle. A factual clip against the eye-witness account of the journalists.
Well. Perhaps a Palestinian propagandist of genius invented the whole thing. The civilians committed
Another possibility is that not two, but three missiles were used - the two seen in the clip and a
If the Israeli media were truly independent, instead of being a department of the security
There remains the rhetorical question posed by General Amidror: Whom to believe?
The Minister of the Interior Avraham Poraz (Shinui party) and the Knesset member Zahava Gal'on
But even if we take the official version on trust, we would have to raise another question: WHY do
There were times when the army spokesman was believed without reservation. During the 50s, I was
These days are long gone. The occupation, which has corrupted everything, has corrupted the army
During the last 20 years I have followed the work of foreign correspondents, neutral,
When things get tough, official spokespersons bring up the Jenin affair. The Palestinians claimed
Credibility is worth more then gold. It takes years to build up, but just a few minutes to destroy.
"Whom do you believe?" the general asked. Well.hmm.it's not pleasant to say, but...
* Balanced Middle East News *
IAF report quickly dispels rumors on Gaza strike
By Ze'ev Schiff
There is one document that, in some ways, offers
This document, which reached
But anyone who thinks it is possible to lie in a
The bulletin was sent out on Tuesday in response
"The following document briefly describes
I. The IAF conducted five strikes against
III. Following are the operations and the main
A. An attack on a plant for manufacturing
B. An attack on a car carrying weapons: Two
C. An attack on a munitions warehouse: 1. One
D. An attack on a car carrying suicide
E. Another attack on the explosives
IV. Main points: ...
C. All the targets were targets belonging to
D. In the planning and execution, maximum
E. With respect to the media reports of a
1. All the munitions struck their targets
2. In every attack, at the time the munitions
3. There was no firing of munitions into a
4. In the attack on the car carrying the suicide
A. The results were very good.
B. Planned terror attacks were prevented and
C. Maximum precautions were taken, in both
The above document reflects what the IAF knew,
BALATA SHOOTING UPDATE: NIGHT HOSPITAL INVASION, THREE PATIENTS
[Balata Refugee Camp and Rafidia Hospital, Nablus]
Immobilised from gunshot injuries sustained yesterday, one of the
Jeremy, Mark (Colorado, U.S.) and the other patients were held at
In the same unit as the injured internationals, a middle-aged father
For further information please call:
The International Solidarity Movement (ISM) is a Palestinian-led non-
Tel: +97222774602 Fax: +97222772018
Last Update: 25/10/2003 13:57
IDF arrests two militants in raids on Palestinian hospitals in Nablus
Dozens of Israel Defense Forces troops wearing black ski masks and armed with assault rifles
Around 3 A.M. troops pulled up in jeeps and swept into the two hospitals in the city of Nablus, confining doctors and other staff to rooms for more than an hour as they kicked open doors in room-to-room searches, witnesses said.
The operation followed several similar raids in recent weeks, including cases
In Nablus' Anglican Hospital, soldiers entered
"I explained to the soldiers how critical his
The doctor said Hamed lost two fingers in the
A military source said Hamed had planned suicide
Elsewhere in the city, troops stormed Rafidiyeh
Palestinian security sources said the man was
An American peace activist witnessed the arrest
"Around 3 a.m. I was woken up with a flash light
He said soldiers in black ski masks and bullet
As they left, Turner looked from a hospital
Friday's raids were the third and fourth Israeli
IDF spokeswoman Maj. Sharon Feingold said
"Hospitals should not be used to harbor
Palestinian Cabinet minister Saeb Erekat accused
"This is a very grave measure by the Israeli
In August, troops patrolling Nablus fired at
Four days later, troops snatched the two injured
On Sept. 24, about 50 Israeli troops surrounded
Fellow militants swiftly carried him out a back
Israelis raid West Bank hospitals
Israeli troops have raided two West Bank hospitals, detaining two suspected Palestinian militants.
Troops swooped on a Nablus hospital early on Saturday, seizing one man who was being treated in intensive care, Palestinian doctors said.
Soldiers arrested another militant who was armed and using the hospital as a base, Israeli officials said.
Israel accuses militants of hiding out in hospitals but Palestinians say the raids violate international laws.
At the Anglican Hospital in Nablus, soldiers entered the intensive care unit, snatched Khaled Hamed, a member of the militant Hamas group, and took him away in an Israeli military ambulance.
"I explained to the soldiers how critical his condition is," Dr Annan Abdel Hak told the Associated Press. "Then they removed the machines from his body."
Mr Hamed, said to have been badly injured when a bomb he was carrying detonated prematurely, would be treated in a hospital in the Tel Aviv area under guard, an Israeli security official said.
In a second raid, Israeli soldiers stormed the Rafidiyeh Hospital and arrested a man said to belong to the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades.
The Israeli military said the man, who was hiding in the hospital's basement, was armed and in perfect health.
"This is not the first time that Israeli troops kidnap wounded Palestinians from hospital beds and endanger their lives," said chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat.
"It's a grave development that contravenes international law."
There have been several similar raids in recent months weeks, increasing fears among medical staff and human rights groups that hospitals are no longer neutral ground.
But the Israelis say Palestinians are violating international law by allowing militants to use hospitals as sanctuaries.
"Hospitals should not be used to harbour terrorists," Israeli army spokeswoman Major Sharon Feingold said.
In another incident in Nablus, the International Solidarity Movement says two of their foreign volunteers were slightly injured by shrapnel during overnight clashes in the city's Balata refugee camp between Palestinian gunmen and Israeli troops.
Two young Palestinian boys were also lightly wounded, the group said.
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