Israel Learned the Lessons of Last Gaza War

Despite Critique, Goldstone Report's Suggestions Proved Useful

Lessons Learned: The conflict in Gaza has died down for now. Even harsh critics of Israel recognize that it did a far better job managing the battle this time.
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Lessons Learned: The conflict in Gaza has died down for now. Even harsh critics of Israel recognize that it did a far better job managing the battle this time.

By Nathan Jeffay

Published November 26, 2012, issue of November 30, 2012.
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According to Bashi, this is partly due to the different Israeli attitude toward the crossing of goods during its two offensives, and partly due to the fact that Gaza was in better shape at the start of Pillar of Defense. Cast Lead came after a year-and-a-half of Israel severely limiting supplies, while Pillar of Defense took place when Gaza had a network of tunnels bringing goods from Egypt to Gaza. Israel, too, allowed regular, if restricted, flow of goods via its territory.

As far as medical provisions are concerned, Physicians for Human Rights-Israel issued a statement decrying “numerous incidents of harm to Gaza’s health infrastructure” during Pillar of Defense, including damage to hospitals by nearby shelling and aerial attacks. But PHR’s executive director. Ran Cohen, also said that the situation was very different from Cast Lead, because of the fact that supplies went into Gaza and people went out.

Patients seeking treatment they couldn’t get in Gaza were allowed to leave for Egypt, East Jerusalem or the West Bank.

“There are no surgical wars, especially in areas with large civilian populations,” said Cohen. But Israel, he added, learned “some of the lessons” of Cast Lead.

In the public relations sphere, Israel’s message hadn’t changed in the years since Cast Lead, but the government disseminated it with more enthusiasm on social media, and provided journalists with a heavier flow of videos and statements than ever. The biggest difference was that the government barred journalists from entering Gaza in 2008-9, but this time, on the first morning of the conflict, told them they were welcome to cross.

There is speculation that this decision may have stemmed from a desire to reduce the media’s dependence on human rights organizations. Those of the Israeli right were angry at the exposure those reports received during the Cast Lead media lockdown.

“The Israelis realized that there is no way of stopping journalists and if they don’t let them in, they will get information from ‘worse’ sources,” said Gabriel Weimann, professor of communication at the University of Haifa, “local people or stringers, or anyone locally with a mobile phone or camera.”

Contact Nathan Jeffay at jeffay@forward.com


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