(Banner will apear here)

Beautiful Kabbalah Jewelry Judaicawebstore.com
Font Size:

Gaza Compared With Iraq And Afghanistan

IDF Brig.Gen. David Suissa: "We Knew Hamas Would Try & Draw IDF Into Trap Of Killing Palestinian Civilians & We Did Everything Possible To Avoid It"

"I Was Commander Of Fire Control & I Say With Absolute Certainty There Was No Deliberate Attempt To Kill Palestinian Civilians Or Destroy Their Infrastructure"

IsraCast Assessment: Relative To Iraq U.S. Coalition Has Killed Ten Times More Civilians In War Against Combatants Than Did IDF During Cast Lead Operation In Gaza

IDF soldiers in the Gaza Strip (archive)

 In early February, the Goldstone Report that accused Israel of perpetrating war crimes in Gaza will again make headlines. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is expected to address the question of Israeli and Palestinian compliance with the Goldstone demand for independent inquiries into the IDF's Cast Lead Operation to suppress the eight years of Palestinian rocketing of Israeli civilians. The Israeli government is now considering, what if any, investigation to set up after refusing to cooperate with the probe that was mandated by the UN's Council of Human Rights to investigate Israel's 'war crimes'.

:: IsraCast Audio ::

 IDF Brig.-Gen. David Suissa was the officer in charge of directing fire-power during the Cast Lead operation. In an interview with Channel One TV, he stated that the Goldstone Report was totally out of touch with reality. In keeping with IDF practice, debriefings and internal inquiries of all actions have already been conducted. Brig. Gen. Suissa declared: " I can say with full certainty there was not even one case where IDF personnel deliberately fired at unarmed Palestinian civilians! On the contrary, in planning Cast Lead we were fully aware that Hamas would deliberately try to draw us into hitting civilians which they could then exploit for propaganda and force us to halt the operation; I am happy to say they failed". Moreover, the Israeli military actually took precautions above and beyond international law. For example, leaflets were dropped in areas of Gaza before impending IDF attacks. In addition, Palestinian homes in those areas were actually telephoned warning residents to leave immediately.

The officer explained that in many cases Palestinians did flee and the IDF then found that many of the buildings were empty. But there also incidents when Hamas even prevented civilians from leaving. In such cases, the IDF dropped a specifically designed 'soft' shell on the roof of the building that caused a loud noise but no damage and then gave the residents ten to fifteen minutes to get out. In the IDF this was known as the 'knock on the roof' approach. The buildings located in civilian areas were co-opted by Hamas and other terror groups as arsenals and firing positions. In the same vein, the terrorists launched their rockets from near schools, kindergartens and mosques. In one case, the IDF found a large quantity of explosives stored in the basement of school where pupils studied every day. Goldstone said he had examined a mosque and found no sign of Hamas weapons.

Another accusation was that the IDF had deliberately destroyed the civilian infrastructure in Gaza in order to punish Palestinians for supporting Hamas. Goldstone gave as an example a flour mill and big poultry runs. Brig.Gen. Suissa categorically denied the allegation saying there was irrefutable evidence the buildings were part of an network of underground tunnels used by the guerrillas for the movement of fighters and weapons. The officer declared that Hamas had converted the buildings into legitimate military targets in every sense of the word. He added that the IDF had not targeted for example energy sources or bridges in Gaza. Israel was also aware that Hamas leaders had taken refuge inside the Wafa hospital in Gaza, but no IDF action was launched to ferret them out.

IDF soldiers operating in the Gaza Strip

The general practice of the terrorist leaders was to move from one place to another with a ring of children and civilians around them for protection. In such cases, the IDF withheld its fire. Israel launched Cast Lead as a last resort after eight years of Palestinian rocketing of Israeli civilians. Several days before launching the offensive, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert even gave an exclusive interview to the Arab TV network Al Jazeera calling on Hamas to halt the rocketing before it was too late - but to no avail. Brig.Gen. Suissa also disclosed that more than once during the operation, the IDF decided to forgo legitimate military actions against Hamas because of the danger to Palestinian civilians.

But the officer added that mistakes do happen in warfare. (In this context, four IDF soldiers were killed and a number of others by friendly fire). The IDF apologized for the deaths of 22 members of the same family as well as paying $10 million for damage to a UNWRA building.

So much, for the officer who directed IDF firepower during Operation Cast Lead. Retired British Colonel Richard Kemp knows a thing or two about guerrilla warfare. Kemp who commanded British forces in Afghanistan visited Gaza and later described the IDF's conduct to the UN: "The Israeli Defense Forces did more to safeguard the rights of civilians in a combat zone than any other army in the history of warfare".

And what of the casualties during the twenty-two days of Cast Lead in Gaza, one of the most densely populated areas on the planet. Eight-hundred guerrillas were killed and 300 Palestinian civilians - that is 72% of the 1100 fatalities were armed fighters. By comparison, in Iraq an estimated 17 civilians have been killed for every combatant - that works out to some 6%. Relatively, the U.S.-led coalition has killed ten times more civilians in Iraq than the IDF did in Gaza. This would also appear to hold true for Afghanistan, where the NATO forces have depended even more on air strikes on villages in Taliban controlled regions. The 'collateral damage' has been so great that President Hamid Karzai has complained vociferously to his American allies over the number of civilian fatalities. Yet in an interview with PBS TV, Goldstone actually praised the U.S. for apologizing and ' taking responsibility for the deaths' as an example for Israel! Also in an apparent unguarded moment, Goldstone stressed that the Israeli probe must also hear Palestinian witnesses because after all there could be no objective conclusion unless both sides were heard, including the Palestinian victims! Is this not what Goldstone did by taking as gospel the Palestinian witnesses who appeared before his tribunal.

When queried about whether these witnesses might not have been coached and coerced by Hamas, the judge replied with a straight face that he had made certain there were no Hamas fighters in the vicinity, otherwise he would have chased them away. This is why Prof. Ruth Lapidot, a prominent Israeli expert on international law has called the Goldstone report 'malicious' in every aspect. So why did Goldstone, a South African Jew who professes to be a Zionist and a friend of Israel, chair a panel, one of whose members actually condemned Israel of war crimes before the inquiry even started. Most Israeli legal experts often quip that they are not qualified in psychiatry. It may be that Goldstone was insulted by Israel's refusal to cooperate with a rigged inquiry set up by an Arab run UN body that had targeted the Jewish state as a war criminal before hearing the evidence.

However, Goldstone was undeterred and decided to carry on and essentially turned from being an impartial judge into a lawyer for the Palestinians hearing only their case and then turning into a prosecutor of Israel. It brings to mind the character of British Colonel Nicholson, played by Sir Alec Guiness in the film ' The Bridge on the River Kwai. Nicholson after settling his differences with the commander of the Japanese POW camp, agrees to collaborate by having his men build a vital railway bridge for the Japanese army in Burma. The Colonel gets carried away with his delusion of building a monument to British character by supervising the construction of the bridge that the Allies are planning to blow up. In the PBS interview, Goldstone denied any idea that he was serving Israel's enemies contending there was no reason why a Jew could not hold Israel to account.

This raises the question of whether Israel gave the Palestinians a free pass by not appearing before the UN panel. Some non-official Israelis did testify, including one resident from Sderot who later said Goldstone appeared to doze off while hearing her testimony. Others said the panel members appeared to be going through the motions, letting them have their say without asking follow-up questions and then telling them they could leave. Nevertheless, why is the Israeli government now considering an independent inquiry? A big enough country such as the U.S., Britain, France, Germany and not to mention Russia or China would simply tell Goldstone and the General Assembly 'to go to Hell!' Indeed, the UN's Human Rights Council would never dare to investigate these countries and never has. But a tiny state such as Israel, that cannot depend upon any solid UN bloc to back her up is in a delicate, if not precarious, international position. In adopting the Goldstone Report, the General Assembly gave Israel and Hamas three months to set up their own inquiries.

On February 5th , Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is due to report on their compliance. Adding to the farce, the Palestinians have explained their eight years of rocketing by saying the missiles were really aimed at military targets, but because they were so inaccurate they hit Sderot and other Israeli communities by mistake! In any case, the Goldstone Report is now on the UN agenda and in order to stem the pressure, Israel is expected to set up some sort of inquiry above and beyond the internal probes by the IDF. However, Defense Minister Ehud Barak categorically opposes any summoning of commanders in the field or their soldiers for questioning under caution. Barak, a former IDF Chief of Staff has said the Israeli Army behaves morally even at times under impossible conditions. It was his view that the Goldstone Report was distorted, fallacious and unbalanced. One possibility is that an Israeli inquiry will be chaired by a retired Supreme Court judge.

There are international legal implications that are being exploited by pro-Arab groups in Britain and some other EU states that permit the arrest and subsequent prosecution of foreign nationals for alleged crimes in foreign states. In Britain and previously in Spain, this tactic has been attempted, so far without result. Nonetheless, some former IDF officers now refrain from visiting Britain. More recently, this was tried on Barak himself but was rejected by a British judge because the defense minister was an official guest of the British government. British officials say they are now seeking to revoke this law that can theoretically backfire on them. For example, a senior British officer or defense official could also be apprehended on a visit to Spain on charges of war crimes in Iraq. Or even Canadians or any of the other NATO members whose troops are fighting in Afghanistan.

But even Brig- Gen David Suissa agrees with British Colonel Kemp that the IDF's code of conduct during Cast Lead was more moral than other armies, Israel is still being hauled over the coals in the international arena. One of the problems could be that the media was barred from entering Gaza and reporting at first hand on how Hamas was using civilians as human shields and attacking from inside populated areas. This has enabled the Arab prapoganda machine to manipulate the international media into portraying IDF soldiers as trigger-happy storm- troopers out to kill as many Palestinian civilians as possible. The death of any civilian, not to speak of children, is an undeniable tragedy be they Palestinian or Israeli. However, as anyone with military experience would know the fact that only 300 Palestinians were killed during 22 days of intense house to house fighting in populated areas, where Hamas deliberately took cover, speaks volumes. If IDF soldiers with automatic weapons, tanks, artillery and air power had gone on a killing spree in Gaza the fatalities would have been at least 10 times greater as indeed is the case in Iraq and Afghanistan.

David Essing

Back To The Top