How much collateral damage is too much?
That is a question that should be asked regarding America’ drone operations in Pakistan and Afghanistan, but it cannot be answered except episodically because nothing about those operations is available for public scrutiny. It is also a question which must be asked of Israel in connection with its futile bombardment of Gaza.
The Israeli army has stated that it is working to reduce as much as possible any harm to Palestinian civilians as part of its operations in Gaza. The IDF has emphasized that people in areas that the army attacks are sent warnings via text message, phone calls and leaflets telling them to stay away from Hamas militants. But that did not help the Jamal Dalu, whose sister, wife, two daughters, daughter-in-law and four grandchildren ages two to six, four children and five women, along with two neighbors, an 18 year-old and his grandmother, were “mistakenly” attacked by Israeli bombs on November 18. [I put “mistakenly” in quotes not because I think that Israel intended the death of a whole family of civilians but because in the course of the kind of attack Israel has mounted against Hamas, mistakes are virtually inevitable. That is what is meant by “collateral damage.”]
According to the Israel Defense Forces, “the IDF mistakenly bombed the home of a Palestinian family, apparently due to a technical error while targeting a senior Hamas militant in charge of the group’s rocket firing teams.” Ha’Aretz reports that according to the IDF, “the source of the error was either the failure to paint the target of the attack on the correct site or that one of the munitions in the strike misfired.”
Which is, of course, the point. These kinds of things happen, no matter the efforts made to avoid them. It is no comfort at all the loved ones and the neighbors of the dead family to explain to them that the deaths were unintentional.
Now some will argue that Israel had no choice, given the barrage of rockets that were launched in Gaza and aimed towards Ashkelon and even Tel Aviv – and yes, even Jerusalem.
The question that must be asked is whether Israel’s attempt at a military solution to the rockets short of a re-occupation of the entire Gaza Strip is a plausible outcome of Israel’s actions.