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Marjah, Gaza & Judge Goldstone

Afghan President Hamid Karzai: "NATO Forces Are Still Killing Too Many Innocent Civilians In Current Marjah Offensive Against Taliban Guerrillas"

U.S. & Afghan Officers: "Taliban Is Fighting From Behind Civilians Using Them As Human Shields"

Senior U.S. Officer: "Civilian Casualties Are Inevitable In Such Warfare"

Judge Goldstone

 NATO forces waging the current campaign are discovering that Taliban forces in the Marjah region of Afghanistan are copying the Hamas tactics against the Israel Defense Forces in Gaza. The Islamist guerillas in Marjah are also exploiting innocent civilians as ' human shields' with some of them being killed and wounded in the cross-fire. U.S. Brig. Gen. Nicholson has been quoted as saying that despite precautions such casualties are inevitable. Ironically, Judge Richard Goldstone who accused the Israel Defense Forces of being guilty of war crimes and possibly 'crimes against humanity' in Gaza has said that the IDF should 'follow the example of the U.S. Forces fighting in Iraq and elsewhere. David Essing urges Judge Goldstone to 'join the dots' between the NATO warfare in Afghanistan and the IDF's 'Cast Lead' operation into Gaza to suppress the the rocketing of Israeli civilians.

 First before drawing any comparison between the Israel Defense Forces war in Gaza and NATO's current anti-guerrilla campaign in the Marjah region of Afghanistan, it is useful to look at some of the news dispatches from the battle zone.

AP-Feb21st: A NATO airstrike is southern Afghanistan has killed at least 21 civilians , the Afghan interior ministry said today. NATO forces confirmed in a statement that its planes fired on a group of vehicles that it believed contained insurgents who were about to attack its forces, only to discover that women and children were in the cars. NATO did not provide a figure of how many died or say if all those in the vehicles were civilians. The strike hit three minibuses that were driving down a major road in the mountainous province . There were 42 people in the vehicles, all civilians. Investigators on the ground have collected 21 bodies and two people are missing .

IDF troops near the Gaza Strip

"We are extremely saddened by the tragic loss of innocent lives" NATO commander General Stanley McChrystal said in a statement ......

AP-Feb16th: Three more Afghan civilians have been killed in the assault on a southern Taliban stronghold, NATO forces said Tuesday, highlighting the toll of the population from an offensive aimed at making them safer. The deaths- in three- separate incidents - come after two errant U.S. missiles struck a house on the outskirts of the town of Marjah on Sunday, killing twelve people, half of them children. Afghan officials said Monday that three Taliban fighters were in the house at the time of the attack.

In two of the most recently reported incidents, Afghan men came toward NATO forces and ignored shouts and hand signals to stop, NATO said. The troops shot the men and killed them.

In the third incident, two Afghan men were caught in the crossfire between insurgents and NATO forces. Both men were wounded and one died of his injuries despite being given medical care, NATO said.

USA Today- Feb.19th: The Taliban is using civilians and hundreds of explosives to try and prevent Afghan and U.S. troops from taking over the jihadist group's largest stronghold in Afghanistan, the Afghan Army said Wednesday.

Afgan. Brig. Gen. Moheedin Ghori: "The Taliban is trying to goad troops into endangering civilians lives". He said Taliban fighters have put women and children on rooftops and fired from behind them.

"They are trying to get us to fire on them" said Ghori, who said the Taliban's strategy has slowed the advance.

Lt.Col. Jeff Rule, a U.S. Marine operations officer, said he received multiple reports of Taliban fighters not letting people leave their homes.

"They will use people as human shields|," he said.

"Civilians were hit," said Esmatullah, an Afgan soldier -"troops would fire when fired upon and later discover that civilians were shot in the crossfire".

Even before the current offensive in Marjah, Afghan President Hamid Karzai repeatedly complained that his allies, the NATO forces, were killing too many Afghan civilians.

Clearly this type of counter- terrorism operation, be it in Marjah or Gaza, will inadvertently take its toll in civilian casualties, that is the guerrilla strategy. In fact, the reports from Afghanistan are a carbon copy of what the Israel Defense Forces faced when they entered Gaza to suppress the Hamas rocketing of Israeli civilians. Today, the Taliban are also cynically exploiting civilians in the same way Hamas does in Gaza. However, even Judge Goldstone could not refer to an Israeli air strike that attacked three minibuses. On the contrary, the Israeli Air Force even developed a new, small charge that was dropped on the roofs of Palestinian buildings as a warning to residents to immediately evacuate, before the IDF moved in on Hamas targets. The explosive made a big boom but caused no damage. It became known as ' knock on the roof ' rather than 'knock on the door'. (This in addition to dropping hundreds of thousands of leaflets and telephone calls warning civilians to leave.) The NATO commander, U.S. General Stanley McChrsytal has repeatedly apologized for the civilian casualties and there is no doubt his forces are trying not to inflict civilian casualties, although it is fair to say they take fewer precautions than did the IDF. (In an incident several weeks ago, the Taliban hijacked a fuel tanker-truck in the vicinity of German troops. The German officer, fearful that the tanker would be detonated among his men, requested and got an air strike on the tanker. It killed some 90 people, mostly civilians who were siphoning off the fuel from the vehicle.).

The UN's Human Rights Commission, a notorious body set up by the pro-Arab bloc for vilifying the Jewish state, lost no time in producing the Goldstone report condemning Israel. Now more than ever, it is clear for anyone who is ready to see, the Goldstone allegations against Israel in Gaza compared with NATO's conduct of the war in Marjah, screams to high heaven! One thing is certain - there will be no UN inquires into Iraq or Afghanistan nor Chechnya nor Tibet for that matter. Everyone, not only Judge Goldstone, can draw his or her own conclusions.

David Essing

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