The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) were able to track the artillery shells that were expended, except for one that wasn't fired during the time-frame in question, and presented that informsation as a rebuttal. Having examined the IDF report, Human Rights Watch, says that, "it could not contradict the IDF's exonerating findings."
No doubt the Palestinians will immediately apologize to the IDF for making the accusations...
I agree with everything written in the blog post and the first comment, but, leaving aside this incident and looking at the larger picture, I think Mr. Siegman has it right in Sunday’s Los Angeles Times: the solution to the problem of Palestinian terrorism is the credible prospect of a viable Palestinian state, not tit-for-tat reprisals.
The vast disproportion between Palestinian civilian casualties from Israeli "mistakes" and Israeli casualties from Palestinian terrorist assaults also brings into question the distinction between the two. It suggests that the killing of Palestinian civilians is, at the very least, more a matter of Israeli indifference than a mistake. Not a single Israeli has been killed by a Kassam rocket since Israel’s disengagement from Gaza last year, although during this period Palestinian civilians have been killed by Israeli artillery and airstrikes virtually on a daily basis. (According to B’Tselem, the Israeli human rights group, Israeli forces have killed about 3,400 Palestinians since the intifada started, and Palestinians have killed about 1,000 Israelis).
More important, judgments about the morality of Israeli military strikes that kill innocents cannot be made without reference to the political context within which the violence occurs. Even when Israeli attacks are carried out with care to avoid harm to civilians, "collateral damage," in which innocent Palestinians are killed or maimed, only can be justified if Israel also is engaged in a serious and realistic attempt to reach a negotiated solution.
But since the Labor Party was voted out of office in 2000, Israel’s policy has been to refuse to consider concessions that would have to be made in negotiations with the Palestinians. Former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s unilateralism, embraced by his successor, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, was never intended as a bridge to a renewal of the peace process but as a strategy for its avoidance. It is a policy that the Labor Party, despite occasional campaign rhetoric, has largely supported.
In the opinion of most Israeli security experts, terrorism cannot be defeated unless Israel offers Palestinians a credible political prospect for achieving viable statehood. Without such a political prospect — which for all practical purposes has been eliminated by the conditions imposed by Olmert for a renewal of peace talks and by continuing Israeli settlement expansion deep into the West Bank — Israeli retaliations degenerate into vengeance and have no claim to greater moral justification than Palestinian terrorism.
I’ll leave it to others to give a thumbs up or down to most of what you say, but this is plain stupid.
The vast disproportion between Palestinian civilian casualties from Israeli "mistakes" and Israeli casualties from Palestinian terrorist assaults also brings into question the distinction between the two.
So, if I am repeatedly attacked and I kill more of the group that attacks me trying to defend myself than they kill of mine, the distinction between me and the attacker can be questioned? That is ridiculous. Argue if you want that Palestinian attacks are justified, I disagree, but it is at least arguable. However, they are not justifiable, nor Israeli efforts to defend themselves rendered unjustifiable, by counting up the dead defending oneself. If my home is invaded I promise I hope for the casualties inflicted upon the invaders to be higher than those in my home. The US defeat of Japan was not a crime because more Japanese died than Americans. This situation is different and argue away that those differences make the Israeli actions immoral, but the relative number of dead is irrelevant.
Not a single Israeli has been killed by a Kassam rocket since Israel’s disengagement from Gaza last year
and I’m supposed to cut the Palestinians slack because their crappy rocket attacks have failed to kill anyone? Oh, I get it. If someone attacks me I’m only allowed to take action in return if I take loses. How noble. How unlikely. How unrealistic. The Palestinians have a perfect way to avoid Israeli retaliation casualties - DON’T LAUNCH TERRORIST ATTACKS!
unless Israel offers Palestinians a credible political prospect for achieving viable statehood
Would that be like letting them have an election where they replace a terrorist government (Fatah), with an even more terrorist government? (Hamas) Tell me these people didn’t know who they were, so recently, voting for in their first election.
Where was the ’let’s have peace’ party in that election? If it existed at all, it was squashed by the ’let’s have the Israeli’s cake and eat it too’ party victory.
The Palis are firing rockets from Gaza into Israel. So far they have not succeeded in inflicting any casualties. The Israelis are counter-attacking and killing civilians almost every day. The Israelis say, with some justification, that it is unfair to compare civilian casualties in this way because the civilan deaths are the Palis’ objective and Israeli mistakes.
Seigman raises the question of whether something that happens every day can legitimately be called a "mistake". Then he looks at the larger context in which this tit-for-tat policy is being pursued and concludes:
1. Retaliatory strikes have no chance of stopping or reducing Pali terrorism, and are more likely to spur it on.
2. "No serious person can believe that Israel — with one of the world’s most powerful military establishments — is at risk of being undone and eliminated by Hamas or by any other terrorist group."
3. Israel is no longer pursuing a negotiated settlement.
In this context, he believes that killing Pali civilians on a daily basis risks degenerating into simple vengeance with no moral justification.
This is a moral, not a political calculation on his part. Politically, I think Pali terrorism differs from al Qaeda terrorism in that it is driven by a political problem, rather than a religious vision. As such, it is (theoretically at least) amenable to a political solution. The problem is that both sides have given up trying to find one.
As I recall there have been numerous attempts at negotiation. Let’s see, Camp David Accords come instantly to mind as one ancient sampling of negotiations we brokered.
So, is Seigman suggesting that for every terrorist bombing and rocket attack Israel should, send flowers maybe? Beg Hamas for forgiveness for existing? Suggest areas of the country where maximum kill ratios can be achieved by rockets and Islamobombs? Can you say ’vote of no confidence in the current government’ by the populace.
When the Israeli’s artillery is used to target any old village, sort of randomly firing into the West Bank, then I’ll see it as nothing more than simple vengence. Till then, the fact that it tends to hit known leaders of various terrorist groups in vehicles moving down streets, or in houses in otherwise quiet neighborhoods, I’ll consider it a message to the Palestinians that it’s dangerous to support terrorists in their midst.
Amenable to a political solution. I repeat, when they elected Hamas recently, knowing what Hamas stood for, the Palestinian people were saying exactly WHAT to the Israelis?
The problem is that both sides have given up trying to find one.
The Israelis haven’t. They’ve just finally realized that when the Pals negotiate at all, it’s in bad faith. So they’ve applied a unilateral solution. If the Pals don’t like it, too bad. They were offered better several times and turned it down.
The Palis are firing rockets from Gaza into Israel. So far they have not succeeded in inflicting any casualties. The Israelis are counter-attacking and killing civilians almost every day.
The reason the latter is happening is because the Palestinian terrorists are setting up their rocket batteries in civilian areas.
Counter battery fire isn’t "fire and hope" anymore, not with the sophisticated counter-battery radars now available. Israeli counterfire is going where it needs to go to take out the rocket launchers and crews. The fact it is also killing civilians has more to do with the choices made by the Palestinian terrorists than those made by the Israelis.
McQ is right on target there, but still, your reasoning is mind boggling.
"No serious person can believe that Israel — with one of the world’s most powerful military establishments — is at risk of being undone and eliminated by Hamas or by any other terrorist group."
This is what is known as a non sequiter. That one is unlikley to be defeated in no way implies that one needn’t defend oneself. The main reason they are unlikely to be defeated is they fight back. If they stopped fighting back:
a)They would undoubtedly be defeated. I can outweigh you by 200lbs, but if I just let you attack me with impunity I can still lose the fight, or whatever you might call such an absurd situation.
b)The terrorists would undoubtedly get stronger and stronger. Eventually they would be a great danger even if Israel decided to only fight back once the terrorists are stronger. The idea is to defeat your enemy before they are strong enough to do serious harm.
This is not some playground where you have to fight fair even if it costs you a bloody nose. The cost of failure is a massive loss of life. There is no going back and doing better next time. If the runt of the neighborhood is attacking you and your whole family with a machete you are entitled to shoot him with your twelve gauge as unfair as it might be. No need to wait until he hacks your sister to death first.
Lance wrote:If my home is invaded I promise I hope for the casualties inflicted upon the invaders to be higher than those in my home.
It is reasonable to compare the Israeli position in the 1967 war to that of a homeowner faced with a gang of thugs who have invaded his home, intent on killing his family, but I think it is stretching the analogy to use it in the case we are discussing here.
Allow me to try a different analogy:Every Saturday night Mr. P has a big party in the back yard of his home. One Saturday night, someone in the crowd fires a handgun over the fence into Mr. I’s yard. Mr. I grabs his semi-automatic rifle and returns fire over the fence, killing five people. None of the five people who were killed were the shooter, but Mr. I is not troubled because he was the victim of an unprovoked attack and he was defending his home and family.
Every Saturday night for a month the same scenario occurs. At the end of the month Mr. I has killed 100 of Mr. P’s friends and family, and yet Mr. P continues to hold parties every Saturday night, and every Saturday night someone shoots a handgun over the fence into Mr. I’s yard.It seems to me that either the two neighbors are doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results, or they are both getting exactly the results they want.
It is not a non sequitur to point out that these rocket attacks are not an existential threat to Israel. My point is that if someone fires a rocket from Gaza into Israel and it harmlessly explodes in an empty field, it might actually make more sense to ignore it than to retaliate. Certainly we have enough experience now to predict that Israel’s retaliation will kill some innocent civilians, but not deter future rocket attacks (except in the rare "specific deterrence" case where the retaliatory strike actually destroys the target).
Furthermore, I do not read Mr. Siegman as suggesting that Israel stop responding altogether to Pali attacks, but that Israel should be looking for a political solution to the problem, rather than doing tit-for-tat retaliation as an end in itself.
I only quoted a few paragraphs from the essay. At the end, Mr. Siegman claims that his discussions with major players on both sides suggest that a political settlement would be possible that used the 1967 borders as a starting point for negotiations. I can not judge the plausibility of this claim, but I do believe that Israel must try to forge a political settlement to the problem.
Uhhhh, do you have a comprehension problem. I am not suggesting anything about Israel, though I do have opinions, my problem is with your reasoning in any context. Take your lame analogy. The palestinians are not randomly shooting something into Isreal. They are trying to hit someone. If Israel were to stop retaliating they would be able to position themselves in such a way as to actually hit someone. The fear of being hit in return is a large part of the reason they are so ineffective. Another part of the reason is the life span of the average terrorist is short enough that they do not acquire the requisite experience. However, that isn’t my point, it is that the fact that Israel kills three people for every person killed in an attack upon them does not cause there actions to be indistinguishable. The reasoning is poor period, the fact that it is inapplicable to the question at hand is a side issue.
I should also point out that if your analogy was apropo it is still stupid. If I am having a block party and the people next door allowed someone to repeatedly shoot at my guests I would put a stop to it. Here in the US I wouldn’t have to shoot back myself, because I could call the police. However, Israel has no police to call. So, in that case I pull out my shotgun and either disarm the guy or take him out. Especially if I knew that if we all ran into the house trying to let things cool off he would just move in for a better shot or recruit more gunmen. Especially if I knew that the neighbors were harboring people who said getting a share of the barbecue wasn’t enough (even if I had no intention of sharing) and were going to kill us all no matter what we did. That some of the neghbors don’t feel that way may be hopeful for later on, but in the meantime the guys with guns who do feel that way have to be taken out, by me or someone before they do hit someone.
Now, if you are arguing we should militarily intervene and play the role of policeman, that is another argument. My guess is you just want a chance to make excuses for terrorists, because Hamas and Fatah have shown they don’t want a political solution anyway. Maybe Israel doesn’t either, but I don’t believe it. Hamas and Fatah have made it quite clear where they stand by both their word and deed. If their actions don’t convince you why don’t you listen to what they have to say? To ignore their stated aims is to infantalize the Palestinian leadership. They may be a lot of things, infants ain’t one of them.