Friday, November 26, 2004

Civilian, Arms, Tactics and Ethics
via Arutz-7.
There's a new website that catalogues the arms Israel's "peace partners" in the PA (and related organizations) have acquired and deployed. The editor of the website, Aharon Etengoff used to work for the IDF spokesperson's office.
If the Palestinians had used their resourcefulness over the past 11+ years to build an economy instead of a terrorist state, there'd now be peace between Israel and a prosperous Palestine. That there isn't is a testament to the fact that the PA was always more interested in destruction than in production.
And how should Israel face the threat these weapons and their users present to their country. Why that's been addressed by Maj Gen Amos Yadlin in "Ethical Dilemmas in Fighting Terrorism."
To take one example of the difficulty Israel has in fighting its civilian surrounded enemy Yadlin tells us:
The case of Salah Shehada, the head of the military arm of Hamas, is a prime example of ethical concerns in decision-making. Shehada planned terror attacks in Israel, including the attack on the Dolphinarium discotheque where twenty-one teenagers were killed, and he was in the process of planning a "mega-attack." We knew that if we hit him, the mega-terror process would stop because he was the mind behind it, the planner, the one who was really pushing the button. Shehada was always surrounded by innocent people until one night in July 2002 we found him almost alone, and we delivered a 2,000-pound bomb on his apartment and he was killed. Unfortunately, the intelligence about those in the surrounding buildings was wrong, and innocent people were killed. Yet when the decision was made, it was the right decision from an ethical point of view because the scale included a mega-attack threatening the lives of hundreds of Israelis, balanced against a terrorist with some collateral damage. But in this case the collateral damage was too high.

A month later, in August 2002, we had all the leadership of Hamas - Sheikh Yassin and all his military commanders, all his engineers, all the minds of terror - in one room in a three-story house and we knew we needed a 2,000-pound bomb to eliminate all of them - the whole leadership, 16 people, all the worst terrorists in the world. Think about having Osama bin Laden and all the top leadership of al-Qaeda in one house. However, due to the criticism in Israeli society and in the media, and due to the consequences of innocent Palestinians being killed, a 2,000-pound bomb was not approved and we hit the building with a much smaller bomb. There was a lot of dust, a lot of noise, but they all got up and ran away and we missed the opportunity. So the ethical dilemmas are always there.

The chief of staff is always asking, "Bring me an operational plan that will endanger fewer civilians around the terrorist." This is an important principle: We never target civilians. They kill our civilians but we will not kill theirs as a punishment. We are always targeting terrorists on their way to do us imminent harm. The dilemma is that the terrorists are within these civilians.
It's not so simple as Israel's many critics would have us believe. Israel took a lesson when too many died as collateral damage - in an attack fully compliant with international law despite what the naysayers would claim - and, as a result, a group of terrorists survived to fight and kill another day.
And when you read about how cruel Israeli soldiers keep this in mind:
On the one hand, we had to deal with the terrorists and look for the tunnels. On the other hand, we had to avoid collateral damage or hitting the civilians. So first of all we applied the principle of warning. We warned the civilians that they had to leave because the terrorists were there.

We had to make every attempt to move them before the fighting began. Two soldiers paid with their lives because they were trying to help a Palestinian old lady get some water and Palestinian snipers killed them. Think about the commander who has to go to the parents of the soldiers and tell them that because of ethical issues they helped this old lady but your son is dead because of it. It's an awful dilemma.

Other than the American army is there any other army in the world that would take such care to assist civilians from the enemy's side? The French?

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