Operation Shield and Arrow has been carried out to date with breathtaking effectiveness. The shield of Iron Dome and David’s Sling have prevented major loss of life among the civilian population, although so far one man has been tragically killed and some have been injured, despite a barrage of 547 deadly rockets fired at Israel at the time of writing.
The arrows of target intelligence, air strikes and missile attacks have decimated the Gaza terrorist leadership and destroyed many of their weapons. No other military is capable of defending its people with the ferocity and precision the IDF has been showing.
Unfortunately, some of Israel’s arrows have also killed uninvolved civilians. The UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, said yesterday that the civilian deaths in Gaza are “unacceptable” and called on Israel to “abide by its obligations under international humanitarian law”.
This amounts to a grave slur against the IDF which is known by all Western military commanders to be more effective than any other force in the world in preventing the deaths of civilians in enemy territory. Instead, Guterres should have held the Gaza terrorists directly responsible for the killing of their civilians, for it is they who have a deliberate policy of using human shields — a war crime. Not least, Islamic Jihad commanders keep their wives and children close to them as proper military commanders would wear their body armor and helmet.
Guterres’s comments — and their echoes in the media and among human rights groups — also play directly into the hands of terrorists whose prime operational objective, short of its destruction, is international vilification of Israel. The UN Human Rights Council’s condemnation of the IDF that will follow this conflict as night follows day, flowing from thinking such as the Secretary General’s, will help ensure that Islamic Jihad and terrorists everywhere continue to use human shields and will cost many more lives.
Knowing the IDF as I do I can be confident that they are closely adhering to — and going beyond — international laws of war in this conflict. But there is another question as well. Should they have been given political direction to conduct offensive operations in Gaza, knowing that innocent civilian lives would be lost? Some argue, following Guterres’s line that civilian deaths are unacceptable, that Israel’s shield is sufficient to blunt the rockets and protect its population without the accompanying arrows.
Of course, the reality is that no defensive system can provide 100% protection, as we have seen from deaths, wounding, and property destruction in Israel during this conflict and previous rocket attacks; and no country can sit back and watch while its enemies lash out. On top of that the stakes in the current round of violence are much higher even than 547 rockets fired out of Gaza in two days.
Islamic Jihad bought and paid for by Iran
Islamic Jihad, behind the present violence, is an Iranian proxy, bought and paid for by Tehran. The ayatollahs are intent on the destruction of Israel: by nuclear weapons when they have completed the capability, and meanwhile by a multi-front proxy war.
They have been encircling Israel with weapons and fighters, spending millions of dollars. In Lebanon, they have positioned tens of thousands of missiles and UAVs, including precision-guided systems. In Syria, they have been working to build another front for attack although so far the IDF has been disrupting their efforts with almost weekly strikes.
Inside Israel and in Judea and Samaria Iranian proxies have been fomenting, funding, and directing violent attacks against civilians and military. And, since Israel’s total withdrawal from the territory, they have helped turn Gaza into a war machine of attack tunnels, fortifications, and rocket bases, supplying funds, materiel, munitions and direction
As the current conflict began, the Iranian leadership exerted heavy pressure on their other Gaza terrorist client, Hamas, to join Islamic Jihad in the onslaught against Israel’s civilian population. The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps — a central organ of the Iranian government — has been the main mover in these malign efforts and has set up a war room in Beirut to coordinate their terrorist proxies more effectively.
How should the West respond? Not by trotting out the usual condemnations of an ally under assault, with the standard moral equivalence drawn between a sovereign state and its terrorist assailants such as is never drawn with any other conflict in the world —“we call on both sides to exercise restraint.”
Instead, the US, the UK and Europe should focus entirely on the head of this rabid wolf that has its teeth sunk into so many conflicts from Yemen to Gaza to Ukraine and beyond. Rather than appeasing Iran by desperately attempting to resurrect Obama’s deeply flawed nuclear deal, it should be branded for what it is, condemned, isolated and comprehensively sanctioned.
At the same time the US in particular should be working to bolster and give confidence to Iran’s prey, reversing its current policy that has seen its influence disastrously ceded to China and Russia.
- Colonel Richard Kemp, former British Army commander