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Minda Wolff Garr
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Will the world ever condemn Hamas’s goal of eliminating Israel?

And why is Israel still being castigated for the kind of terrible unintended events that happen in every war?
United Nations staff members inspect the remains of a car used by US-based aid group World Central Kitchen hit by an Israeli strike the previous day in Deir al-Balah in the central Gaza Strip on April 2, 2024. (AFP)
United Nations staff members inspect the remains of a car used by US-based aid group World Central Kitchen hit by an Israeli strike the previous day in Deir al-Balah in the central Gaza Strip on April 2, 2024. (AFP)

We have heard a lot recently about the tragic deaths of seven aid workers in Gaza, who were working in a war zone to distribute needed supplies to affected civilians. First, all agree it was a terrible incident and never should have happened. Loss of innocent lives during wartime is always regrettable, upsetting and disturbing. Second, commendably, the IDF immediately initiated an investigation, and has taken disciplinary action against those under whose watch this awful incident occurred. And third, the IDF has taken full responsibility and has issued a formal apology.

So here is where I get confused. We have been at war for six months. A war that we did not start and did not want. But it is a real war in which missiles and rockets are shot daily and purposefully into civilian areas within Israel. And yes, our army is active on several fronts — against Hamas in Gaza, which is our southern border, against Hezbollah forces on our northern border in both Lebanon and Syria, against Hamas cells in Judea, Samaria and East Jerusalem, and we are periodically attacked by missiles from the Houthis in Yemen, and Iran is constantly threatening to attack Israel.

It is a known fact that in war zones mistakes happen, and innocents are killed, for reasons too numerous to delineate here. A percentage of our own forces, as in every war, have been killed by friendly fire, as have several of our hostages. Each mistaken and unnecessary death is a tragedy, as are the deaths of the aid workers who were killed most recently in Gaza.

So why am I confused? The UN is questioning whether this tragedy should be considered a war crime. The international aid organization in question is demanding an independent inquiry — a full investigation into those under whose watch it occurred. Official measures against those considered responsible, and an official apology are not considered adequate. Western world leaders, including the United States, are threatening Israel in subtle and not so subtle ways.

And so I ask the following:

What army engaged in active warfare has not been responsible for unintended and innocent deaths?

Have other democratic countries been castigated by the entire world leadership for mistakes made during a war which caused the death of innocent individuals?

Have other democratic countries acknowledging mistaken deaths caused during war been accused of war crimes?

Have the armies of other democratic countries been told that being accountable, taking responsibility, and apologizing for causing unintentional deaths during war is not enough, and that some other investigation must take place?

I could go on. About all of the innocent lives lost here in Israel to terrorism over the 50 years that I have lived here (and at least 50 years before I showed up) – and how the world leadership and media have minimized those deaths and the responsibility of those who caused them. Or of all of the missiles fired into civilian areas of Israel over the years that have been totally disregarded and unreported. Or of the way Hamas was sending incendiary devices into Israel for years, destroying fields and creating an ever-present danger. Where was the outrage then? Where were the accusations of war crimes being committed? What happened last week was tragic and unnecessary. But it was not an intentional targeting of innocents.

In my naivety, I am still waiting to hear the voices of outrage against those who would intentionally target and kill Israeli citizens and Jews, wherever we might be in the world. I am waiting to hear sincere and consistent condemnation of the evil we face daily, and have faced since before the establishment of the State of Israel. I am waiting for the recognition by the representatives of democracy of the indefatigable enemy we face whose stated and explicit goal is to wipe us from the face of the earth.

In truth, I am not naïve. I am not confused. I am both enraged and disappointed in those who cannot distinguish between good and evil, and by the lack of moral compass so often evident in the Western world. Many in that same Western world thought Hitler could be bargained with, and that he didn’t really mean what he said. Where have we heard that before?

About the Author
Born in Chicago, Minda Wolff Garr participated in the Hebrew University semester abroad program in 1967-68, remaining in Israel and completing a degree in Social Work at Hebrew U. After marriage, she had a six year hiatus in the US, and returned to Israel in 1977. She raised four amazing children here, and has eight grandchildren - the oldest now in the IDF - the third generation to serve. She is a retired faculty member of the Baerwald School of Social Work and Social Welfare, where she still teaches a course yearly, and has a small practice in psychotherapy.
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