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Israel: Perspectives on Gaza Operation Cast Lead

The Israeli blogosphere has been massively reacting to the attacks in Gaza and the growing number of Israeli cities under rocket fire attack. Many supporting, many against and many claim that Israel ¨has no choice¨. Below are a number of different perspectives written by Israelis in the past two days.

Yuval Dror describes his mixed feelings towards the operation:

No, after this operation no peace will arrive. No, the operation will not stop the missiles from falling in Israel. No, there are no fair proportions here – not in the number of dead, and not in the breadth of the destruction. We are much stronger. I have no doubt that if ground forces will enter Gaza we will all receive a horrible replay from the second Lebanon war. Actually, the replay has already begun: surprise attack, incredible success, here we won, but actually – no. I am far from celebrating. When hundreds of people are killed, some, I am sure, innocent civilians who want to live their lives just like me and you, there is nothing to celebrate.

On the other hand, I have no sympathy towards those who rally against the operation in Tel-Aviv. Not because I think this operation will solve all the problems, not because I think it is the best solution, not because I trust our leaders (I do not), but because those who sit in Tel-Aviv for eight years while Sderot receives daily rocket fire, and finds the time and energy to rally while Gaza gets attacked is in my eyes a hypocrite.

I was supportive of Israel´s disengagement from Gaza, because in my opinion, Jewish settlements there were not ethical. From the moment we got out of there, I have much less patience towards the missiles fired from there. I support a dialogue, negotiation, land in exchange for peace – but I will not be persuaded to think that a child´s life in Netivot is worth less than that of a child in Gaza. I will not be persuaded that we should sit and do nothing while missiles land within Israeli territory.

Blogger civax who has been actively commenting on GVO explains:

Hamas did won the elections in Gaza (mainly as protest vote against corrupt Fatah) and refused to denounce violence, recognize previous agreements and recognize Israel (conditions set by international community for recognizing its government). This cause the siege to begin by Israel, US and the EU, which refused to transfer aid and money to a well known terror organization.

Shortly afterward a civil war began in Gaza where Hamas slaughtered anyone related to Fatah, which only made most of the world realize how brutal and terroristic the new regime is.

The last 6 months ‘truce’ had ended last week. During the truce still thousands of rockets were fired, bringing the total number of rockets in the past year to over 3000! Since I’m from Ashkelon I’ve experienced this myself.

The ‘truce’ ended Wedensday and we had 80+ rockets per day!! – I remind you, this is before the operation. in a few days we had over 300 rockets falling on us and Israel did NOTHING but to warn Hamas. (and suffered a lot of criticism from us, israeli citizens, which felt we were abandoned unprotected by our own government)

The JCPA posted a comprehensive article highlighting the notion that Israel keeps being charged for its use of ¨disproportionate force¨ whenever it has to defend its citizens from non'state terrorist organizations and the rocket attacks they perpertrate;

From a purely legal perspective, Israel's current military actions in Gaza are on solid ground. According to international law, Israel is not required to calibrate its use of force precisely according to the size and range of the weaponry used against it (Israel is not expected to make Kassam rockets and lob them back into Gaza).

When international legal experts use the term “disproportionate use of force,” they have a very precise meaning in mind. As the President of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague, Rosalyn Higgins, has noted, proportionality “cannot be in relation to any specific prior injury – it has to be in relation to the overall legitimate objective of ending the aggression.”8 In other words, if a state, like Israel, is facing aggression, then proportionality addresses whether force was specifically used by Israel to bring an end to the armed attack against it. By implication, force becomes excessive if it is employed for another purpose, like causing unnecessary harm to civilians. The pivotal factor determining whether force is excessive is the intent of the military commander. In particular, one has to assess what was the commander's intent regarding collateral civilian damage.

What about reports concerning civilian casualties? Some international news agencies have stressed that the vast majority of those killed in the first phase of the current Gaza operation were Hamas operatives. Ibrahim Barzak and Amy Teibel wrote for the Associated Press on December 28 that most of the 230 Palestinians who were reportedly killed were “security forces,” and Palestinian officials said “at least 15 civilians were among the dead.”10 It is far too early to definitely assess Palestinian casualties, but even if they increase, the numbers reported indicate that there was no clear intent to inflict disproportionate collateral civilian casualties.

For lack of time, I have translated only part of Jonathan Klinger´s insightful post expaining why he opposes the Israeli attack. Hoping to be able to translate it fully in the near future:

Like I said yesterday, Israel should have declared war. Such a declaration would have placed Israel in a clearer state, allowing the country to act quickly for the benefit of the southern cities. Because Israel did not declare war, the Knesset cannot stop this war even though there is a majority against it. This dictator-style military action without any legal agreement will cost Ehud Barack and Ehud Olmert dearly.

This war will not prevent qassam rockets from falling, but in the best case scenario will be a showcase of Hamas artillery capabilities. Hamas can currently hit Ashdod with missiles, and we will probably find several more surprises… Every time this happens, the IDF attacks lead to a deterioration of the situation and never to an improvement.

Israel targeting of Hamas´ Television broadcaster yesterday is a direct attack of freedom of speech and on the Gaza strip´s ability to report the damage there. When Israel doesn´t allow foreign journalists into Gaza, it is a grave attack on Hamas´ sovereignty over Gaza. Now the civilians in Gaza cannot receive reports covering the situation in their land.

There is no good war, I have no better way to say this and I think I gave many explanations.
I do not think we need to sit and do nothing, but I think that the best way to deal with the qassam rockets is a combination of a specific land-operation along with diplomatic negotiations.

In his recent post, 23 year old Shai explains why he changed his point of view from initially against the attack to supporting it:

I wish there was a way we can bomb terrorist targets without hurting civilians, but there isn’t. If we sent troops there, we’d be responsible for their death, and we shouldn’t be. Hamas won’t talk, and if it won’t talk, sending troops to “arrest the ringleaders” is merely throwing young soldiers’ lives away in the guise of being more civilized. But this isn’t about being civilized, this is about dealing with the irreconcilable violence of monstrous armed thugs, and they are the ones who force us into making ourselves monsters. That is their greatest achievement. We are turned into murderers, and we can’t help it.

The Hamas forces us to murder. They are murdering scum, but by caring nothing for their civilian population, they turn us into murderers too.

The surest way of not having collateral damage is not attacking at all, and I would like to emphasize very well that I do not consider myself merciful to members of a terrorist organization who refuses to negotiate and chooses violence instead. Arresting them is the right thing to do, but it is, I realize, impossible. It’s impossible to be nice to these people, it’s impossible to negotiate with them. Fatah has been somewhat amenable to diplomacy, but Hamas isn’t. Hamas wants us all dead. Period. They won’t stop until every Jewish Israeli is dead, and they don’t mind killing their own kind for this purpose. They aim to liberate Palestine from Jews.

I support our troops, I support this war when it’s against the criminal organization that is Hamas. I am against this war only because people who are utterly innocent die because of it, but Hamas leaves us no choice. I am against this war, but I am for it. I am for it because if we weren’t for it, we would be butchered, as well.

If only the people of Gaza realized how damaging their so-called representatives are.

What can you do?
Xeni Jardin of boingboing links to a post highlighting the Israeli consulate´s upcoming Twitter press conference on Gaza on December 30th, from 1-3PM EST. You can submit questions by directing them to the consulate´s Twitter account : http://twitter.com/IsraelConsulate

  • http://ori.neidich.com/ Ori

    Gilad, I’m glad you managed to make it to an Internet connection and add your incredibly insightful “global voice” to the discussion.

  • http://yamansalahi.com/ yaman

    There is more opposition at http://things.co.il/

  • http://www.civax.net civax

    Israel don’t just target Palestinians. Look at the West bank. No siege, no rockets, food, products and people come and relatively go freely. How’s that?

    The West Bank is controlled by the PA and while there are many issues Abbas and the Israeli governments to not agree on, they TALK.

    Isn’t the west bank full of Palestinians? It is. Does Israel targets them/siege them/bomb them? No.

    The reason is Hamas.

    Israel talks with leadership who is willing to talk back and refrain from violence. Hamas wants only to bring death on Gaza, not peace.

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  • http://english.info.org.il Hanan Cohen

    A Prayer For Compassion

    compassion for the people of Israel

    compassion for the people of Gaza

    compassion for those who stay at home

    compassion for those who leave their home

    compassion for those who take care of the hurt

    compassion for the families and relatives

    compassion for those who are hit by the bombs

    compassion for those who send the bombs

    compassion for the demonstrators for

    compassion for the demonstrators against

  • Joe

    civax:
    you are totally wrong… yes, Israel totally controls west bank. and people who live there suffer daily from Israeli millitary. checkpoints are spread allover the country.. settlers, bypass roads make it impossible for palestinians to move freely…

  • Tim

    Agreed – it’s hypocritical for Hamas boosters to fret over the body count of terrorists killed. Hamas’ recently promulgated Sharia-based code of ‘justice’ stipulates crucifixion as punishment for non-believers, and yet all these starry-eyed Christian college kids are tripping over themselves to aid terrorists. Only the Palestinians had the audacity to murder kindergartners at the Misgav Am nursery in 1980, just as their ideological cousins in the Taliban deliberately chose a school this week for a suicide bombing that destroyed the worlds of 13 Muslim schoolchildren. By comparison, Israel’s use of precision-guided missiles and intelligence to target terrorists speaks to its moral compass; we all know that Israel’s military could’ve easily used the same indiscriminate Soviet rockets that Hamas uses to do the job. And you’re right that Hamas has squandered Gaza’s 3 years of de facto independence with pointless rocket attacks, just as the Chechens squandered theirs in 1996-1999 by kidnapping and beheading foreign construction workers. No country should be forced to abide terrorism, no matter how many AP photographers are on hand to coax \Pallywood\ Arabs into playing dead for the camera, or actually perpetrate manslaughter, as in the Al-Durah affair. Besides, Israel is doing a favor for Egypt and the moderates in Fatah who are all threatened by Hamas thugs and their brothers in those regions. And by the way – the reason the media keep referring to the \Arab street\ as a monolithic community is because without the development of meaningful institutions and rights in Arab countries, everyone is reduced to groupthink and single-minded bloodlust. Let’s hope that Israel’s strikes elevate their thinking.

  • zack

    civax, I’m sorry to tell you that you are wrong. It’s either you don’t really see what’s going on or you just don’t want to see it.

    People in West Bank are getting killed, are getting arrested. And Israeli settlers their are attacking them on a daily bases. Hebron as an example. The Israeli court ordered the settlers to evacuate a Palestinians home they stole. Their response to evacuation was, burning Palestinians homes and cars, and shooting and beating Palestinians citizens. As you said no rockets, and yet all this horror.

    I don’t think that you see what is happening on the checkpoints between the Palestinians cities in West Bank. I may understand the security reasons behind it, but I don’t understand the behavior of soldiers on those checkpoints. I was once on one of these checkpoints the situation was normal/calm at the time, yet an Israeli officer (female) stopped our car checked IDs as usual, kept the IDs for more than half an hour, and when they gave us the IDs back, a soldier was calling our names to get the ID and the other was acting as taking pictures of us in a graduation ceremony or something, with some dirty words, this is just a very simple example to whats going on. I saw many other horrible things on the checkpoints that Palestinians go through “freely”.

  • zack

    @Tim, I’m really interested in knowing your historical sources. There was no Hamas in 1980 if you don’t know go check.

    But in 1983 Hebron settlers attacked the univeristy of Hebron and killed three students. (There was no intifada at that time).

    As for the precision-guided missiles, Israel killed five sisters eldest 17 and youngest 4 while sleeping. The excuse for this crime was that the mosque near their home if used as gathering for Hamas supports. For God sake mosque is Muslims place of prayer, or does Israel consider any Muslim to be Hamas, and not that they said “supporters” they are not even Hamas by Israel account they are “supporters”.

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