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Clifford Rieders
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Accountability in war

While slamming Israel for its mistaken civilian casualties in Gaza, the world keeps quiet on Hamas terror and stated aims
Afghans inspect damage of Ahmadi family house after US drone strike in Kabul, Afghanistan, Aug. 29, 2021. (AP Photo/Khwaja Tawfiq Sediqi, File)
Afghans inspect damage of Ahmadi family house after US drone strike in Kabul, Afghanistan, Aug. 29, 2021. (AP Photo/Khwaja Tawfiq Sediqi, File)

President Obama ordered drone strikes in Pakistan which led to the deaths of as many as 20 civilians. That was one of 540 strikes on targets in Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, Afghanistan, and Iraq. More than 300 civilians were killed during President Obama’s two terms in office. Some say the numbers were underestimated. President Obama commented: “It turns out that I am really good at killing people….” President Obama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

On August 29, 2021, American forces conducted a strike against what they thought were members of ISIS-K terror group, which recently killed over 120 people in Russia. The strike ordered under President Biden’s tutelage killed 10 civilians, including 7 children.

Neither of those tragic mistakes led to the United States ending its war against terrorism.

Contrast this with the recent tragedy in Gaza where World Central Kitchen workers were killed in a mistaken Israeli strike. Two senior Israeli officers were immediately dismissed and several top commanders in the Israeli Defense Forces were formally censured. Israel has conducted, and is continuing to conduct, an intensive investigation into the death of the aid workers.

There was a concern among the Israelis that the WCK vehicles carried Hamas gunmen. That is not a crazy idea considering that the United Nations, the United States, and many other countries now recognize that the United Nations’ relief organization, operating in Gaza, actively participated with Hamas in its massacre of Jews on October 7th. The leader of WCK is an avid, outspoken enemy of Israel and the Jewish people.

We do not yet know if there was negligence on the part of WCK or its leadership or whether they did in fact harbor terrorists in their midst. The investigations are continuing, and no country in the world will look into the possible killing of civilians during war the way Israel has.

It has already been noted by a top military officer at West Point, that no nation has taken precautions to avoid civilian casualties the way Israel has. Civilians have been warned of strikes on Gaza, they have been moved from dangerous zones, and even emails and text messages have been sent to people living in Gaza. All of these warnings by the Israelis have actually endangered the lives of Israeli soldiers and doubtless caused many deaths of Israeli military.

The death of the WCK workers is precisely what the terrorists, and Hamas in general, have been preparing for. They fully understand that in a world generally opposed to the Jewish nation, the death of anyone designated as a civilian provides powerful ammunition for terrorist groups. We no longer hear about the hostages held captive by Hamas in Gaza. The hostages are pawns in a game played by Hamas and other terrorist groups to strengthen their hand in negotiations during wars they initiate.

There would be no war in Gaza at all had Hamas not acted upon its stated desire to destroy the Jewish people. They were true to their public pronouncements on October 7th when they maimed, raped, murdered and burned Jewish women, children, and men on peaceful collective farms in Southern Israel. Hamas has launched thousands of rockets since it took over the Gaza Strip from the Palestinian Authority over 20 years ago.

Not so strangely, the world condemns Israel for a mistake, which Israel also condemns and is investigating, while saying little or nothing about terrorist groups that publicly state their intention and desire to murder all Jews and Christians in the Middle East. The world responds not to the acts of terrorism that have caused the current crisis in Gaza but rather criticizes and condemns those who are on the frontlines attempting to maintain their homes, villages, and culture.

Who, exactly, are Western leaders, including President Biden and former President Trump, appealing to? Is it oil money? Is it the dominance and power of 500 million Arabs? Are they responsive to the minority of protest groups in the United States? It is difficult to discern the heart of man, but it does seem clear that terrorists can use the most heinous means to advance their cause, utilize their own people and hostages as currency in their efforts to succeed, and the West, with its lack of commitment to enlightenment values, goes along with the murderers.

Few people appreciate that Hamas has rejected every attempt at a ceasefire, demanding total victory. They require that Hamas stay intact, be able to rebuild, receive billions of dollars from abroad, and at the same time they will hold the hostages as collateral for their demands. In other words, in order to stop the war, Israel must concede that the terrorists win, control, and in effect run the table. The United States has never agreed to such terms in its own conflicts with enemies of Western civilization or terrorists, and there is no reason why they should ask Israel to do so.

War exacts a terrible and dramatic price. The United States, in crushing its enemies in World War II, nuclear bombed Japan twice and totally decimated Germany and its allies. We killed hundreds or thousands of civilians in an effort to dislodge depots and to create an environment in which civility could thrive. In subsequent wars, we have sacrificed tens of thousands of soldiers to protect democracy, even if they were not entirely successful ventures. After 9/11 destroyed the World Trade Center, the United States, with its Western allies, waged an unrelenting war against terrorism which resulted in partial victory.

Israel, in connection with WCK, has stepped up to the plate faster than any nation has under similar circumstances and undoubtedly will continue to flagellate itself. In reality, a fair analysis must be made as to whether WCK was working with Hamas and, if so, in what manner.

A combat soldier that I interviewed, who is also a doctor in Gaza, told me that he never saw any civilians even though he saw action in three Gaza cities. The reason? Israel had moved all the civilians out of harm’s way.

Hopefully, the truth will provide answers as to how civilian casualties can be further reduced in Gaza, but the world should not forget that release of the hostages and cessation of violence by the Hamas terrorists must come first.

About the Author
Cliff Rieders is a Board Certified Trial Advocate in Williamsport, is Past President of the Pennsylvania Trial Lawyers Association and a past member of the Pennsylvania Patient Safety Authority.