Compassionate

In a much celebrated poem, Victor Hugo recounts a war anecdote his father, a general in Napoleon’s, armies told. Accompanied by one of his aides, General Hugo surveys the battlefiled when he hears emerging from the dead bodies laying on the ground a feeble voice asking for a drink. He spots a badly wounded soldier from the defeated Spanish Army. Fetching his canteen from his horse’s saddle, he asks his aide to offer the wounded a drink. As the aide leans with the drink the Spaniard grabs his pistol and fires a shot at General Hugo barely missing him. Upon which General Hugo orders his aide: ” Give hin to drink anyway.” You can read the poem in the original French with an English translation at http://audiopoetry.wordpress.com/2009/02/20/apres-la-bataille/
This little story is a metaphore of Israel’s conduct of the Gaza conflict. As the battle rages it allows the supply of medecine. food, fuel, water, electricity to the supposedly besieged Gazans, without being able to control whether the goods are delivered to the population or to the combatants. A makeshift hospital was even set up to treat the wounded. Why does the UN Human Rights Council choose to ignore that Israel fulfills its compassionate humanitarian obligations toward the Gaza population?

Premonition come through

The first part of what I wrote in my premonition post has already become the current reality. Mortar shells were fired from Gaza onto Israeli territory before the cease-fire had expired. Hamas denied having fired. Escalation is now well underway. Mr. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon I hold you “accountable” for the future course of the conflict. Your one-sided diatribe on the casualties inflicted to UNWRA facilities fueled the Hamas rejection of any negotiated agreement.

From Gaza the deaths scoreboard

The August 6, 2014 edition of The New York Times – http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/06/world/middleeast/civilian-or-not-new-fight-in-tallying-the-dead-from-the-gaza-conflict.html?emc=edit_th_20140806&nl=todaysheadlines&nlid=36687332A – analysizes the categorization of the Gaza death toll reports. The article includes Israeli estimates of the proportion of combatants among the victims. A quick look at the figures shows 16% children and 11% women among the casualties. These percentages are far below their percentages in the population. The statistics support Israel claim that strikes were selectively target against combatants.

Premonition

The most potent weapon in the hands of Hamas is heralding the death toll that “Protective Edge” inflicted on Gaza as it provides an easy justification for a wall to wall condemnation of Israel and unleashes atavistic antisemitism. Israel’s sensitivity to World opinion and pressure by its large peacenik sector weakens its opportunities for resolving by negotiation the security issues that were the causes of the bloodshed. With this logic in mind, I believe renewal of the hostilities is not far away. It will start with mortar shelling or opening of a new tunnel by a so-called ” break away” group, with no or meek Israeli reprisal. The next step is a long range rocket salvo that draws Israeli fire. Escalation ensues toward the next cycle of “carnage”, cease fire, renewed rockets spiraling down into Dante’s inferno. My utmost wish, I am wrong.

More casualties and outrage

An airstrike aimed at a school sheltering refugees is a barbaric act. This statement implies a condemnation. Emerging from the reports: an airplane shot a missile, there was an explosion at the entrance of a school, 10 people died and many were injured. As long as the relation between these facts is not established casting a judgment is prejudicial. Beyond the inquiry to determine responsibility, I expect from the Israel Defense Forces to evaluate candidly whether the intended target justified the high risks of a tragic stray hit.
Regardless of what really happened in the UNWRA school, it remains an isolated event among the reported 1800 deaths and the extensive destruction by Israeli fire. Let’s not forget the ultimate responsibility for the suffering endured by the Gazans rests on Hamas who initiated the violence.

Nothing new under the Sun

Excerpt from Wikepedia’s description of the fall of Constantinople.
“After these inconclusive frontal offensives, the Ottomans sought to break through the walls by constructing underground tunnels in an effort to mine them from mid-May to 25 May. Many of the sappers were miners of German origin sent from Novo Brdo by the Serbian despot. They were placed under the command of Zagan Pasha. However, the Byzantines employed an engineer named Johannes Grant (who was said to be German but was probably Scottish), who had counter-mines dug, allowing Byzantine troops to enter the mines and kill the Turkish workers. The Byzantines intercepted the first Serbian tunnel on the night of 16 May. Subsequent tunnels were interrupted on 21, 23, and 25 May, and destroyed with Greek fire and vigorous combat. On 23 May, the Byzantines captured and tortured two Turkish officers, who revealed the location of all the Turkish tunnels, which were then destroyed.”

Disproportionate casualties and crimes against humanity

The qualifier “disproportionate” has become an attribute of casualties reports from Gaza. 1700 Gazans versus 70 Israelis is obviously an issue for headlines. Why did the release of 1000 sentenced terrorists for the return of a single abducted Israeli soldier not deserve the “disproportionate” qualification?
I rebell against this cynical score keeping. Life is a sacred value.. For a mother and father a killed child is an un-quenchable source of grief. The bullet that kills a parent leaves a child in awesome despair and scars his soul forever. The pain is unbearable. That’s why war should be banned as an instrument for settling discord among people and nations. Unfortunately this noble principle leaves men of good will at the mercy of ruthless fanatics. We, the Jewish people, have served as scapegoats for all the ills of the World. We have endured defenselessly twenty centuries of abuse. We are now a nation with the power to defend its security. The past has engraved in our national genome a sense of compassion for human suffering that is written in our Declaration of Statehood. Apparently part of the World has not been able to come to terms with the fact that we are no more the defenseless punchball onto which it can unload its frustrations. Maybe this is the reason for accusing Israel of crimes against humanity.