Gaza gets the mercy it doesn’t deserve 7

 From Power Line:

As Yaacov Lozowick notes, the IDF has called the neighbors of targeted sites to give them a ten-minute warning. Lozowick comments:

Alongside the thousands of civilians whose lives have been spared there are hundreds, at least, of armed Hamas fighters, the people who put the explosives in the cellars in the first place: by warning their neighbors, Israel has warned them, too, thus giving them the chance to escape and fight another day: say, tonight, or tomorrow, when they’ll still be alive to fight the IDF troops, instead of lying dead under the rubble, as would have been possible had we hit their explosive stashes without prior warning, as any normal army wold have done.

But what about the IDF system which provides for the warnings? As a manager of complex IT systems, Lozowick reconstructs the efforts that have gone into its creation:

First, Israel clearly has created a sophisticated GIS (geographic information system). A system that records tens of thousands of buildings, their location, and their distance from each other. Then there’s a database with the names of the tens of thousands of families who live in the buildings, and the phone number of each family. The system has the ability to identify all the families and phone numbers that could be affected by an attack on any given building. Finally, given the numbers involved, there must be a system that automatically makes concurrent phone calls to dozens of families, since everybody has to have the same ten-minute warning.

Ah, and someone put tens of thousands of piece of information into that database.

Such a system costs real money, takes time to set up, and since it is obviously operating close to flawlessly, it was tested, fiddled with, tested, fiddled with, and tested again. The purpose, I remind you, is to save the lives of thousands of Palestinians who happen to have murderous neighbors.

Lozowick concludes that the IDF is the most moral army in the world: "This drives some people bonkers, and they often go ballistic. Alas for them, and fortunately for many Palestinians, it happens to be the simple truth."

The care taken by the IDF to avoid civilian casualties complicates the achievements of its military objectives and increases the hazards to its soldiers, and it doesn’t do much to win Israel friends outside the United States. It is nevertheless an essential component of Israel’s strategy in dealing with its terrorist enemies.

Posted under Commentary by Jillian Becker on Monday, January 5, 2009

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This post has 7 comments.

  • roger in Florida

    Very interesting posts. Reshuffle, I suspect you are an actual or aspiring academic, I say this partly because of some very unusual words you use, also because you have completely over analysed the problem Israel faces. It doesn’t matter who is behind the current enemy and if they are waiting “licking their chops” (I suspect shivering in their boots is more accurate). They will have to be defeated in their turn if Israel is to survive. The question faced by Israeli leaders is simply this; “Do we want to survive or do we climb back into the cattle cars”. The answer is obvious. Hamas may be ineffective in it’s actions to kill Jews, but that ineffectiveness is largely because of Israeli countermeasures and Hamas idiocy, not to any desire on the part of Hamas to limit Jewish casualties.

    A more profound political and moral problem faces the West (USA and EU). At some time our leaders are going to have to make a stand: Either they don’t care about the survival of Israel and thusly will set up their (our) own destruction, or they decide that Israel should be defended against the islamic threat and take a real hand in the fight for Israel’s survival.

    Your statements on this situation remind me of the mindset behind the orders given to the RAF in 1939/40 when Bomber Command were sent on highly dangerous missions into Germany to drop leaflets. Feeble British politicians were inventing nuances in German politics in order to save themselves from making tough decisions. Victory came for the Allies in WW2 when it was decided to kill the enemy, and keep killing them until they were either all dead or they changed their attitude. Victory will come for Israel when they drop all this avoidance of civilian casaulties crap and just destroy the enemy, and we should be standing with them to do just that.


    “Israel-Gaza is the present front line in the war between civilization and barbarism.”

    Since you wrote a book on terrorism (presumably Islamic), then it shalln’t surprise you to know that, while your above comment somewhat overstates a not untenable position, Hamas is hardly the seed of destruction. Not even close.

    Hamas obtains derivative but critical power from Tehran, yes, but the Shia influence is unwelcome in the lower Levant, and not even the Hamas boys trust Iran, save for taking money and training. The true source of your-Israel’s-concerns resides in the more toxic and mindless ruminations of the Sunni crowd. Namely, the Muslim Bro’hood, Palestine-Islamic Jihad and, of course, the amorphous bloodlust that is al Qaeda.

    Four years before 911, I read extensively on Sayyid Qutb. Do you know him? I’m certain you must. Suffice to say he was another in bin Laden’s handy queue of “inspirations,” ( or another “devil who whispered” as my professor later said) though the keen point about him is to describe his anit-western insights and lust for Islamic purity. That would be an Islamic omnipresence, shariah, and the caliphate, said better.

    I mention Qutb only to let you know why the Likudniks et al are playing a dicey game by vaporizing Hamas. The Egyption, seminal wing of the Muslim Brotherhood sits eagerly outside Gaza, lurking in the badlands of Sinai, licking their chops. Along with disillusioned Bedouins and the Jihadist boys, they supply Hamas with munitions, rockets and-most critcally-with warped but fervent ideology. That ideology transcends the mere destruction of Israel, I stress.

    Yet that ideology that is Qutbism, which is a trope for the more easily understood “bin Ladenism,” still skirts Hamas’ immediate world, but it’s not far removed. Not at all. Ask Egypt. Or the Sauds. Not even they want to push that envelope too far, which is why they both deftly straddle a geopolitical line of US and Jihadists’ worldview. They indulge a Faustian bargain, squared.

    Let me end. Best you know that Hamas , while an extension of the greater Sunni lunatics and cursed with a symbiosis to them, still retains Palestinian lifeblood. A sense of nationalism pervades them, complete with self-destructing DNA, yes, but they do serve as an ideological filter to the real, greater, demented zealots. Call the mess crude Realpolitik.

    The Israelis are taking one step forward and two back with a scorched earth campaign upon Hamas. Their enemy is not next to them, but beyond them.

    I don’t know what they can do, I’m sorry, except to recall that it’s often best to accept the devil you know.

  • Jillian Becker.

    Thanks to Taiwanese and rocker for re-entering their comments.

    reshufflex, I’ve read what you say with care, and thank you for it.

    Yes, I am particularly interested in the Arab-Israeli conflict and especially in terrorism. One of my books on terrorism, published in 1984, was a history of the PLO.

    Also I think that what is happening now in the Middle East is most important. Israel-Gaza is the present front line in the war between civilization and barbarism. Hamas is supported by Iran and is a front for Iran – although it was founded as a branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, which is slowly conquering Europe by means of ‘soft’ jihad. Iran’s threat to destroy Israel is a threat to all of us.

    As for proportionality, you argue your case well, but I don’t agree with you. No war is fought ‘proportionately’. Alan Dershowitz has written authoritatively about it from the legal point of view in the Wall Street Journal, January 2, 2009, and I do agree with him.

    One question. What could Israel do other than it has done, what can it try other than it has tried?

  • Taiwanese

    What about all the suicide bombings that have killed thousands of innocents?

    What sort of people bring up their children to do that?


    Btw, JB. What’s the deal with your steady stream of pro-Israel posts? Is this an atheist (conservative) website or something closer to your heart? I’m not saying one precludes the other, but don’t you owe your fellow A/Cs some balance?


    My orignal post (prior to inadvertent deletion) addressed the manner by which Israel has responded to Gazans in total. I can’t recite that post verbatim, so I’ll simply expound on my thoughts.

    No one denies Israel its extraordinary effort to minimze deaths, whether by GIS or text messaging or by use of smart bombs as they attack Hamas. Let’s stipulate to their unique conscientiousness and dignity in that regard.

    But what is equally true is that their assault must be measured in terms of Hamas’ level and success of initial aggression. That equally assumes that Hamas aggression-qua aggressor-is apodictic, which it most certainly is not. The Hamas rockets, even per Israeli data, killed less than a handful of Israeli citizens. Let me repeat that fact. Less than a handful. Too, there is ample support for Hamas’ assertions that Israel disrupted the last cease-fire (truce), if by nothing else than by its unilateral closing of the Rafah border, and thus indicts itself as having precipitated the Hamas’ rocket reply.

    Now the case can be made and is obvious that self-defense does not require Israel or any country to respond to attacks on a one-to-one ratio, or even that x number of deaths determine the appropriate reaction; the principle of self-preservation and defense incorporates the right to respond if a threat or danger alone is manifest. It was and is present, and need not rise to the level of existential doom.

    Except unique to this equation is that Gaza is confined. It offers no escape. It is a virtual prison. It is also perhaps the most densely populated region extant per square mile, save maybe Manhatten or Shanghai (you get the idea.) More to the point, it has no army, no navy, no military per se and no defensive capability. Of course, it does have a militant entity in Hamas, if modest in size, that is resolute on delivering Israel’s end.

    Still, it is not even a nation-state, but rather some half-island-sized settlement that relies on external agencies for its very existence-including relying on the very enemy that now attacks it. The bulk of its citizenry, most importantly, have no fight with Israel and remain bystanders to the violence.

    Israel on this occasion-under these above noted circumstances- can not legitimate its disproprtionate response. What is becoming clear is that a focused scorched earth policy is unfolding and has been advanced with respect to the elimation of Hamas, even as that policy tries to spare nearby Palestinians as much safety as possible. But no reasonable person or regime can extend self-defense principles to the level of overkill and mega-force being unleashed as we now wtiness, upon Gazans. The Israelis have transcended their foundational, if not deontological, rights to protect themselves.

    What is becoming apparent is that Israel has discovered the art of employing situational ethics and is using that practice to rationalize a slaughter.

  • rocker

    yes I said

    useless cruel beggars the palestinians are the pits