Six Lessons of the Gaza Conflict

Holding Fire, Hasbara and a Photo of Slain Palestinian Kids

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By Chemi Shalev (Haaretz)

Published November 22, 2012.
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But these ministers’ statements were in keeping with a long-held Israeli tradition of overreaching bravado, most memorably etched in Israeli minds in the October 8, 1973 bluster of that most tragic of Israeli army chiefs, David Elazar, who bragged “we will break their bones” a few short hours before the complete failure of a massive IDF counterattack in the Yom Kippur War.

  • Three Israelis deserve ignoble citations for having done their best to undermine Israel’s hasbara efforts, provide its enemies with invaluable ammunition and outperform all but the most despicable stereotypes of modern Israel. First in line is Interior Minister Eli Yishai, who described the army’s mission statement as “taking Gaza back to the Middle Ages”; the second is Gilad Sharon, the son of the former prime minister, who published an article in the Jerusalem Post in which called on Israel to “flatten all of Gaza”, just as the US did in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. And the third is MK Michael Ben Ari, who told army soldiers that “there were no innocents in Gaza” so they should “hit them hard”, and then suggested giving the entire population six hours notice before expelling them to all Egypt.

All three statements stained Israel’s good name in the international arena and could be construed as incitement to commit war crimes. What’s worse is that all of the three abovementioned individuals will continue to mingle and operate in Israel’s highest circles and pay absolutely no price for their obnoxious statements which, at best, are no better than what Hamas leaders themselves would say. And what’s worst of all is that you don’t want to know how many Israelis wholeheartedly concur with these three atrocious sentiments, and let’s hope that no one conducts a poll to ask them.

  • Israel is facing a barbaric enemy that has a callous disregard for human life; the Israeli army does its utmost to try and avoid civilian casualties, while its adversaries do their best to target them; Israelis voluntarily withdrew from the Gaza Strip and would have happily allowed it to flourish had Hamas leaders not turned it into a staging ground for attacks against Israeli towns and villages; no country can be expected to sit back and allow its terrorized citizens to become sitting ducks for incessant rocket attacks from across the border; Hamas hides behind its own citizens in order to force Israel to choose between abandoning its bombing raids or causing civilian casualties; comparing the number of civilian casualties on both sides creates a false moral equivalence between the aggressor and the justified defender; Israel has shown as much restraint as any country would under the same circumstances; no army is as moral as the IDF; and so on and so forth.

But there is a Reuters picture that I wish I hadn’t seen. I looked at it, almost by accident, and it has been seared into my memory ever since. It shows 6 year old Jamal Mohammed Jamal al-Dalu, 4 year old Yousef Mohammed Jamal al-Dalu, 7 year old Sarah Mohammed Jamal al-Dalu, and one year old Ibrahim Mohammed Jamal al-Dalu, all lying together, faces bruised, eyes closed, breaths extinguished, on a steel gurney in a Gaza morgue.

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