Gaza – Goldstone Aftermath (‘Shoot to Kill’)

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Recently, Israel seems to be engaging in negative sum games: A “humanitarian” flotilla (the Turkish Terrorist Flotilla of Lies) is arranged to end the blockade and siege on Gaza put in place four years ago. Lo and behold, there is now a free flow of goods into Gaza. The mission was accomplished with flying colors. Bonuses must be awarded to those who brought about the desired end!

Israel’s ruling elite claims it intended to ease the restrictions all along. Apparently the catalyst worked, but why was it necessary to pay such a dear price of seven soldier’s wounded and universal condemnation of Israel?

In December 2008 Israel embarked on an effort to stop the smuggling of ammunition and instruments of war via the tunnels into Gaza and to end the constant bombardment of rockets from Gaza into civilian centers in Israel.

Israel seems to have learned from her previous folly, going into Lebanon, what would later be termed the “Second War in Lebanon.” Israel’s stated objective was to bring back two Israeli soldiers. Finally Israel was humiliated, and their body parts were later exchanged for hundreds of terrorists. This time around, Israel was very careful not to declare a third objective of Operation Cast Lead: bringing back kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. And so, Shalit remains in captivity to this very day.

The action in Gaza lasted for three weeks, from December 27th, 2008 to January 18th, 2009. The smuggling did not stop, there are today in Gaza more rockets and missiles, more sophisticated, much more accurate and with a far greater reach than ever before.

There are those, both in Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and in the Israel Defense Forces, who still claim the Operation was an astounding success and brought about the desired results. In a like manner, they (or others) would say that the Second War in Lebanon was likewise beneficial, for the North is quiet.

Both Hamas and Hizbollah are today better equipped and more prepared to attack Israel than before 2008 and 2006 respectively. Rockets are continually launched from Gaza. They are still planning and preparing to kidnap Israeli soldiers and still determined to eliminate the Jewish State.

All that is required is for Iran to give the “go ahead” and Israel, from its southern most border to its northern most border, will be under a Fourth of July attack of missiles.

During the ground incursion into Gaza, Israel did not refrain, for the first time in history, from responding to rockets launched from mosques, UN building or schools. Previously, these were safe havens, but no more. Israel now realizes her enemy is manipulating world opinion.

So, what is wrong with the picture? Israel has become accustomed to internal and external reviews. Yet, these commissions of inquiry and international complaints and lawsuits cannot be accomplished without inflicting pain to the Jewish State.

Principally, debriefing and review are crucial in military action as in many other walks of life, from sports to business. It allows a review in a safe, controlled environment and to draw lessons. It often results in improvements if the lessons are properly implemented.

For military action, debriefing and review must be internal. Instead, in Israel all is done in the public domain, under public scrutiny, available to the world and to our enemies alike. Israel failed to notice Hizbollah’s leader, Nasrallah, laughing at her government and leaders, quoting or referencing particular sections from the Winograt Report. In a word; a circus.

I remember sitting at a foreign press briefing during Operation Cast Lead. The IDF Spokesperson’s officer-in-charge was asked about Israel’s use of phosphorous bombs. She adamantly denied the charges. [She was since promoted to the rank of a Lieutenant Colonel.] A year and a half later, Israel committed to refraining from using these bombs with phosphorus elements to the UN. So were they used or not?

A new report presented to the UN as a response to Judge Goldstone’s Report shifts the focus of war from the battlefield to the courtrooms of international public opinion. In these courts, Israel is constantly demonized and found guilty, whatever she does.

What is the utility in responding to the Goldstone Report if no one cares what Israel has to say? Will it prevent lawsuits against Israeli soldiers or politicians when traveling abroad? Will the accusation of committing war crimes be lessened or reserved? Since the answer to these questions is negative, one wonders about the utility in Israel’s latest attempt at being whole and holy.

The main messages of the report, as publicized and internalized in Israel are (a) investigating and launching judicial proceedings against soldiers, (b) the need for a “humanitarian officer” in each unit, (c) the incorporation of new guidelines about civilian protection and most egregiously (d) it submits to the international biased allegations. It also opens the doors to further legal action, including in Israel in front of Israel’s Supreme Court against Israel and Israelis.

Think of a boxing match. There are clear guidelines that must be adhered to by those engaged in the match. Then, think about such matches conducted in ancient times, or modern gambling matches between vicious dogs or roosters. In all these instances, there are no rules. All punches are allowed, anything that leads to one live victor and one dead opponent.

Likewise here, Israel is trying to comply with unfeasible requirements she is to behave in a certain manner, although she, alone of all nations, already does. All the while, Israel’s enemies do everything possible to destroy her: They kidnap soldiers from within Israel, fire at civilian population centers, declare their intention to destroy the Jewish State, hide behind mosques and schools, use ambulances for transport personnel and ammunition, use civilians as human shields and blame Israel for every untoward action they enlist.

The true problem of the new report just released, the third in the series (the first was in July 2009 followed by a second installment in January 2010) is that it impedes the motivation of Israelis to fight for their country.

If a soldier knows that he and she risk their lives during real-time fighting and later will need to defend every action, every thought, every split-second decision, they will prefer to err on the side of triple-extra-caution and thus do nothing.

I am reminded of driving on the streets of Los Angeles. The signal drivers receive is very mixed; at some stoplights, when the time counter is down to zero, the light changes immediately from green to yellow to red in a scope of a second. Thus, the driver needs to stop. At other intersections, the stoplight counter goes down to zero, but the light remains green.

When preparing to stop, looking at the cameras and thinking about the ticket (close to $500 for passing in red), I become confused. Zero time often, but not always, means stop now or get a ticket. Thus, I stop. But the light continues to be green, and those behind me find an outlet to honk, curse and express their opinion about my stupidity.

Better safe than sorry. Why fight at all when the chances are that one will have to spend the time after the war not in recovery and recuperation, but in investigations by military police and the military advocate general? Not to mention the civilian courts, primarily the Supreme Court, and the likelihood of being prevented from leaving Israel to travel overseas.

Our enemies are succeeding in turning our body elements against the body itself. In medicine, this is the description of cancer. Israel must change course and start fighting for her own survival, lest the cancer spread to the point of no return.

This point-and often-counter-point presentation is sprinkled with humor and sadness and attempts to tackle serious and relevant issues of the day. The series began in 2008, appears both in print in the USA and on numerous websites and is followed regularly by readership from around the world.*

In the series “Postcards from Israel,” Ari Bussel and Norma Zager invite readers throughout the world to join them as they present reports from Israel as seen by two sets of eyes: Bussel’s on the ground, Zager’s counter-point from home. Israel and the United States are inter-related – the two countries we hold dearest to our hearts – and so is this “point – counter-point” presentation that has, since 2008, become part of our lives.