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When I Served, the Israeli Military Was the Most Moral in the World. No More


World  (tags: Israel, Gaza, indifference, former Israeli Airforce officer, human life, civilians, family members, killings )

Evelyn
- 1789 days ago - theguardian.com
These killings cannot be accepted without question. Public silence in the face of such actions - inside and outside of Israel - is consent by default, and acceptance of an unacceptable price.



   

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Evelyn B (63)
Wednesday July 30, 2014, 2:12 pm
When I served, the Israeli military was the most moral in the world. No more

Once there was widespread Israeli outrage over the bombing of homes in Gaza. Now there is just indifference
Yuli Novak, former Israeli air force officer
The Guardian, Monday 28 July 2014 18.34

In July 2002 the Israeli air force dropped a one-tonne bomb on the home of Salah Shehadeh, the head of the military wing of Hamas, in Gaza. You don’t have to be an expert in air combat to imagine what’s left of a home hit by a one-tonne bomb. Not much. That bomb killed not only Shehadeh, but also 14 civilians, including eight children.

At that time I served as an operations officer in the Israeli air force. Like many of my friends, I found myself carrying the burden of immense responsibility at the ripe age of 20. I was responsible for relaying commands and intelligence from headquarters to pilots, preparing aircraft for operations and providing support to pilots throughout.

After the assassination, Israel shook. Even when the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) insisted that there was operational justification for the attack, public sentiment could not accommodate this assault on innocent civilians. Israeli intellectuals petitioned the supreme court, demanding it examine the legality of this action. A few months later a group of reservist pilots criticised such elimination actions.

As soldiers and officers used to carrying out our missions without asking unnecessary questions, we were affected by the public reaction. But Dan Halutz, air force commander at the time, told pilots: “Sleep well at night. Don’t pay any notice of the criticism.” One month later Halutz, asked what a pilot feels when launching a one-tonne bomb on a home, said: “A slight jolt of the jet’s wing.” To outsiders this statement sounded cold and detached, but my friends and I trusted our commanders to make the right moral decisions, and returned our focus to the “important things” – the precise execution of further operations.

A few months later I was made commander of a course for air force officers. I taught cadets how to take responsibility for their actions as officers. We studied the lessons of previous air force operations. I taught them that the IDF is the most moral army in the world, and that the air force is the most moral corps within the IDF.

I believed with all my heart that we were doing what needed to be done. If there were casualties, they were a necessary evil. If there were mistakes, they would be investigated.

Things have changed, and now I can no longer have that certainty. In 2002 the dropping of a one-tonne bomb on a home resulting in civilian deaths was the exception. The IDF eventually acknowledged that the assault on Shehadeh’s house had been wrong. They deemed it a failure in intelligence and said that, had they known there were civilians in the home, they would not have carried out the operation.

Seven years later, during Operation Cast Lead, there was widespread dropping of bombs over densely populated areas in the Gaza Strip. Today, in Operation Protective Edge, the air force boasts of having released over 100 one-tonne bombs on Gaza. What was once the exception is now the policy.

This is how it goes today. We notify the inhabitant about the imminent destruction of a house minutes before a bomb drops (via text messages, or by dropping a smaller bomb on the house as a warning). That is enough to turn it into a legitimate target for an air strike. In the past two weeks dozens of civilians have been killed in such strikes.

Homes of Hamas members have become legitimate targets, regardless of the number of people within their walls. Unlike in 2002, no one bothers to justify or make excuses.

What’s worse is that almost no one protests. Entire families are erased in a second, and the Israeli public remains indifferent. From year to year, from one military operation to another, our moral red lines are stretching further away. Where will they be in the next operation? Where will they be 10 years from now?

I know how hard it is to ask questions during times of conflict as a soldier. The information that the officers get in real time is always partial. That’s why the responsibility for drawing the red lines, and alerting when we cross it, lies with the public. A clear, loud voice that says that bombing a house with civilians in it is immoral must be heard. These killings cannot be accepted without question. Public silence in the face of such actions – inside and outside of Israel – is consent by default, and acceptance of an unacceptable price.
 

Evelyn B (63)
Wednesday July 30, 2014, 2:22 pm
Brave woman - in today's world, criticism & suggestion that any action of the State & IDF opens the door to aggression from those who don't want to see that perhaps what they are supporting is wrong - even evil.
 

Roger G (148)
Wednesday July 30, 2014, 2:36 pm
noted, thanks
 

Carrie B (306)
Wednesday July 30, 2014, 3:01 pm
Excellent post! Thank you Evelyn.
 

Eleonora Oldani (37)
Wednesday July 30, 2014, 4:33 pm

I just got this in from Gush Shalom's Adam Keller - please help to disseminate this widely - thanks a lot!

~*~*~*~

PEACE BUS [to Gaza] CONTINUES

Friday, August 1, 9am, the Peace Bus will leave Jerusalem, carrying medicines and clothes, as well as flowers, intended for the people of Gaza. Also postcards written by Israelis and addressed to Gazans, trying to bridge the terrible abyss. En route the bus will go through Tel Aviv and Be'er Sheba and visit the Israeli communities on the Gaza border.

Please come on board to make the message of the Peace Bus stronger and to meet people living on the border of the conflict region. Presenting a message of peace in the conflict zone is of vital importance, as is maintaining touch between Israel's center and perphery - to stay together.

Collection of medicines (everyone has some new, unused medicines he or she doesn't need, which can be donated to hospitals in Gaza), money for medicines and clothes started already on Sunday. Contact vmmessage-peacebus@yahoo.com and will make an afford to come and pick up your donation. All donations will be delivered to Gaza by our activists.

Write a postcard with a message of peace for Gaza or if you are far: send the message via email. We need them by the end of the next week. We will translate all messages in English and Hebrew into Arabic.
For Thursday, July 31, 6pm, Jerusalem, is planned DEMONSTRATION at Kikar Safra, (Jerusalem Municipality Square), and decoration of the Peace Bus with flowers

We are ready to come on the 3rd Journey and deliver medicines to the people in Gaza (we start collecting the medicine and the money to buy medicines in order to provided both direct and symbolic support from Israelis to the Gazans during the humanitarian catastrophe). Let's take a one day break, collect energy and start Sunday with some ideas and actions. First things first - we need to contribute ourselves and find foundations supporting our project ...

We just got back from the town of Sderot on the Gaza border, where on our 2nd bus journey we visited families who support peaceful solution of the conflict and were inspired by conversations. We've been also on a our condolences visit to a Bedouin camp next to Dimona, where a part of a rocket fired by Hamas (after the rocket was intercepted, but some shrapnel fell down) killed a Bedouin man and wounded his children. It was a good journey and more will follow. I apologize, folks, that the web-radio broadcasting came short this time, some technical stuff we'll have to learn how to solve.

Our vision is to create the reality where Palestinians and Israelis can live in peace and dignity. We are not offering political solutions nor do all of us have a common political view. We do not have ready recipes. But what we a certain of is that we cannot continue hating, fighting, killing each other. In 66 years of war we could not achieve any permanent solution - we believe that it's time to try a different path.

On the Peace Bus we promote principles of tolerance, understanding and non-violence. People of all religions, colors, nations, genders come together in the loving attitude to see what the media is trying to hide away from us – a true face of the so called "enemy". In the eyes of an Israeli and Palestinian child you will discover innocence and remember yourself once being a child, free from prejudices and hate. In this moment we mourn for all those who perished during this unnecessary and tragic conflict: not just in the current one, but for all the innocents who lost their lives in the war of hatred.

We want to see the perspectives of both sides: suffering of Palestinians and Israelis alike. We are all human beings who happened to be raised as enemies. And this is a real tragedy. We can not live in peace as long as other side is suffering. Therefore, the PEACE IS OUR COMMON GOAL!


Contact:

Amir Harash 054-7689939 amirhara@yahoo.com ,
Dorian Levin 054-4789911 levindorian@gmail.com;
Nomika Zion 054-7689181 nomika@migvan.org.il
 

Evelyn B (63)
Wednesday July 30, 2014, 4:59 pm
512 people have signed up so far for next Friday's trip - to Gaza ..
אוטובוס השלום ממשיך בדרך! The bus of Peace بَاص السَلام 31July at 18:00 in UTC+03
 

Sam H (410)
Thursday July 31, 2014, 11:39 am
I'm not sure the Israeli army was ever the most moral in the world!
 

Sam H (410)
Thursday July 31, 2014, 11:46 am
Are we forgetting that Irgun, the Jewish/Zionist terrorist organization, was among such organizations that were integrated into the IDF? They had criminals and murderers in the IDF from the start.
 

Evelyn B (63)
Thursday July 31, 2014, 12:15 pm
Sam - may well be true, I admit that I have reservations about her assumptions - but the slip in values since she was in the forces is still worth noting!
 

Sam H (410)
Thursday July 31, 2014, 12:40 pm
I don't know how much further they could slip when they already started with Irgun terrorists. Worse terrorists now with more lethal weapons. But at least she seems to see the light now!
 

Evelyn B (63)
Thursday July 31, 2014, 12:56 pm
Sam - I'm beginning to wonder how much lower some of them CAN go ... cheering from the hills as death rains down? Justifying attacks in the street, burning a teenager alive, shelling a building that they've been given the precise coordinates BECAUSE the families obeying IDF orders to leave their homes are being provided with shelter there ... Every time I think they've reached the bottom of the pits, they manage to go even further :^( And then spin the story to blame it all on Hamas ... or on Islam ...

Reminds me of a case - cousins had parked their car safely, & left it, on a Turkish car ferry. An army lorry drove into it. The courts found them 35% guilty ..... because they were THERE. If they hadn't been on the ferry, the car wouldn't have been damaged. If the Palestinians weren't in Gaza, they wouldn't be being killed by IDF .... "Justice"
 

Sam H (410)
Thursday July 31, 2014, 1:09 pm
Evelyn, How about this as a disincentive  to commit crimes against humanity?

A demand to charge Benjamin Netanyahu with crimes against humanity is making its way to the president of the International Criminal Court.

http://www.care2.com/news/member/124335883/3792200
 

Eleonora Oldani (37)
Thursday July 31, 2014, 1:57 pm
Dear Evelyn - "... BECAUSE the families obeying IDF orders to leave their homes ..."

I'm almost certain that you'd remember a similar incident during the 2006 assault on Lebanon. The civilians in a South Lebanon village were warned by the IDF to leave their homes as they will be bombarded after 2 hrs. They all left on the only coastal road up to the north ... that very same and only road was bombarded a few hrs later by the IAF when it was crammed with the fleeing civilians.

That'll be that much for the "morality" of the IDF of which we see so much as of late ... despicable to say the least!
 

Past Member (0)
Friday August 1, 2014, 12:35 am
noted thanks
 

Maria Teresa Schollhorn (42)
Friday August 1, 2014, 1:29 am
Noted. Thanks Evelyn.
 

M B (62)
Friday August 1, 2014, 9:24 am
Thanks Evelyn. Another example: Our food is generally labelled. The Belgian goverment decided to inform (label) the consumment whether food comes from Israel or the occupied territory of Palestine, so people can choose. Israel refuses that because "the Jews would be stigmatised". Whenever one dares to criticize Israel, there a people who cultivate the Holocaust. This has nothing to do with Israeli warcrimes against Gaza. The US should't support Israel.
 

Eleonora Oldani (37)
Friday August 1, 2014, 2:59 pm

BTW - this is something which has to be remembered for the future: "This is how it goes today. We notify the inhabitant about the imminent destruction of a house minutes before a bomb drops (via text messages, or by dropping a smaller bomb on the house as a warning)."

The information that they get bombed takes place just MINUTES before the bomb drops! How far can one run within MINUTES ... and how much time is lost to first of all believe the message, then get over the shock and run away?!

And somtimes they drop a smaller bomb as warning?! Do these smaller bombs know that they're supposed to be a warning and not to kill?!

Geeeee - when did I ever read such nonsense?!?!?

Here's an interesting video which addresses the "morality" issue too - the first to speak is Yehuda Shaul, founder of "Breaking the Silence": https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=55Yk8M_XwgE "Israel: Fighting an unwinnable war?"

Even more interesting is this comment of the IDF officer: "From year to year, from one military operation to another, our moral red lines are stretching further away. Where will they be in the next operation? Where will they be 10 years from now?"

The possibility that maybe over the next 10 years a peace agreement could be reached ... or that Israel accepts to discuss and implement a several times offered long lasting ceasefire ... doesn't even enter her mind. What are we to conclude from such a statement?

 

Evelyn B (63)
Friday August 1, 2014, 3:34 pm
Eleonora
One could also read ""From year to year, from one military operation to another, our moral red lines are stretching further away. Where will they be in the next operation? Where will they be 10 years from now?" " to be referring to the fact that, due to stretching moral red lines, there can be no future but repeated operations ..... UNLESS some effort were to be made to introduce morality as a rule ... clearly defined!

In which case - would the moral lines be closer to those of Breaking The Silence & other Israeli human rights groups?

But what seems to me to be important in this article, is the fact that it reflects awareness that "moral red lines" are less and less moral ...

As Sam says - perception of the IDF as "moral" 10-15 years ago is open to question, but I'm prepared to concede that it had higher moral standards than those being expressed today by Israeli command - and by many members of IDF ... or by those supporters who spew hatred, those who supresse any sense of humanity when faced by the numbers of people killed, the numbers of children killed or severely injured ... but try to spin all fault as coming from one side only - the Hamas/Palestinians. .... , cheer the killing rain of shells, refer to Gazans (& Palestinians) as less than human who've lost all right to be considered human ... or at least, human in comparison with those who swallow the hasbara line and support the leadership without question...... the hate-merchants might well not recognise moral red lines ...
 

Cheree M (46)
Tuesday August 5, 2014, 1:11 pm
noted
 
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