Israeli leaders have been bombarding the media with a question. “What other army on earth warns its enemy before it attacks?” It’s a great question, but it’s a question that should be asked with a sense of outrage rather than pride.
The idea that a nation at war must give enemy combatants the opportunity to lay ambushes, plant explosives and flood targets with human shields is absolutely unacceptable.
Are such warnings obligatory? Are civilian casualties in pursuit of a legitimate military target illegal? Despite popular opinion, no they are not.
International law does not criminalize civilian casualties. International law criminalizes direct targeting of civilians as well as failure to maintain distinction between, not only the enemy’s, but also one’s own combatants and civilians. It is worth noting that the United States routinely breaks the rules of distinction by embedding civilian contractors and paramilitary operatives within its combatant forces.
This is not a personal attack on anyone within our political and military leadership. I am simply presenting a critique of a misguided doctrine that has been entrenched by successive Israeli governments in the belief that it would score big points in the battle for international opinion.
An honest examination of this policy must conclude that it is has failed. Decades of efforts and the sacrifice of our soldier’s lives have yielded no lasting goodwill toward us. Israel is still viewed by the world at large as a despotic regime bent on genocide.
Israel is in need of a shift in thinking, a shift in basic doctrine. Just as a military operation must have goals and produce results in order to be considered worthwhile, so must diplomatic policy, especially when the fruit of such policies are routinely manifested in the form of Israeli casualties. I firmly believe that the average Israeli understands this.
When senior Israeli politicians publicly state that the location of terror tunnels into southern Israeli settlements was known, but nothing was done because they hadn’t been used yet, something is wrong. There is a basic doctrinal flaw. A game was and is being played with the lives of southern residents. And folks, if it is being played there, you can bet it is being played in the north and elsewhere.
We all know there is no such thing as a war without cost. At the same time, I (and I hope you) want to know that if diplomacy fails and a ground operation becomes unavoidable, my country does more to protect the lives of its soldiers than it does to protect an enemy populace that, despite claims of their being held hostage, are more radicalized than any of their supposed leadership elements.
I want to see safe Jews, safe Druze, safe Bedouin…safe Israeli citizens. I want to see the end of national PTSD.