Wednesday, December 31, 2008
The intelligence posted by Richard SeymourAmira Hass, in a powerful article for Ha'aretz, writes:
This isn't the time to speak of ethics, but of precise intelligence. Whoever gave the instructions to send 100 of our planes, piloted by the best of our boys, to bomb and strafe enemy targets in Gaza is familiar with the many schools adjacent to those targets - especially police stations. He also knew that at exactly 11:30 A.M. on Saturday, during the surprise assault on the enemy, all the children of the Strip would be in the streets - half just having finished the morning shift at school, the others en route to the afternoon shift.
This is an important insight. Israel's control of the situation is immense. They have detailed intelligence, sattelite imagery (which they like to show off at press conferences), sophisticated guidance technology, etc. It has planned this assault for months in advance, and its leadership is ostentatiously proud of how all the branches of military and intelligence, from Shin Bet to the Southern Command, have gelled in this attack. If an assault on major public facilities is timed to coincide with children being in the streets, this is not accidental: it is intended to leave a number of children lying in their own blood, and terrorise others.
So far, we have been given the impression in media reports that the majority of those killed have been in some sense not civilians. The UN has suggested that of its estimate of 320 deadths, about 62 are civilians (see chart embedded in this news story). I had assumed that this was because the majority of those killed were policemen and, for some reason, we are all going along with Tel Aviv in not considering this a civilian profession. However! Apparently, I was under-estimating the creativity of the statisticians, for here's a weird thing (spotted by Keith): the UN's tally of the civilian dead "does not include civilian casualties who are men". There is no such thing as a civilian adult male in Gaza! According to this supposed scourge of Israel, any Gazan male with a bit of size on him is fair game.
Israeli power is, of course, extremely creative in determining the fields of law, morality and knowledge within which it operates. After all, when the IDF slaughtered women outside a mosque in plain view not only of the public but of the cameras, it was immediately explained by Israeli spokespeople and their apologists that the women were in fact part of a cunning Hamas military operation to stop morally upright Israeli men from killing morally degenerate Palestinian men. So, they were a legitimate target. And besides, it was hinted, why do they get to wear the veil? What are they hiding? So, if needs must, the very category of civilian, adult or child, male or female, can be conjured out of existence. And then Lt Gen Ashkenazi can come out to the podium and explain: "our intelligence shows that 1.5 million terrorists were eliminated today..."