Photo: AP
Gaza assassination
Photo: AP

Asking questions in Gaza

Our obsession with heartrending stories serves to cloud over the main question: Will IDF actions in Gaza bring security?

The Palestinian girl who lost her family on the Gaza beach last weekend is yet another example of the chaff overshadowing the grain inside.


The debate over Israel's Gaza policy, questions about the wisdom of IDF actions and the benefits of a diplomatic freeze have expired all at once. We are left with only one question: Who killed the girl? As if proving that it wasn't us will prove both our morality and the wisdom of everything we are doing there.


The IDF knows well it is all a question of narrative: Palestinians will never be convinced that Israel wasn't responsible for the girl's death, whereas most Israelis are just waiting for a reason to believe she wasn't killed by a IDF shell. The investigation has raised enough question marks to allow most Israelis to get to the conclusions they were hoping to reach to begin with.


This conclusion not only allows us to file the photographs from Gaza under a joint headline of Palestinian lies and media betrayal, but also erases future question marks. Monday, two more children were killed during an IDF assassination of an Islamic Jihad cell in Gaza. The deaths of these children, like those of more than a few civilians who have been killed by IDF actions in recent weeks, were not photographed and have not become a symbol. Now, it is easier to forget them, too.


Asking questions


Essentially, our obsessive interest in this or another heartbreaking story helps silence the debate about the wisdom of what Israel is doing. The cliché that "Israel is the most moral army in the world" – and anyone who knows the recent and not-so-recent history of Western military actions cannot help but agree that the IDF at least tries, most of the time, to avoid harming civilians – hides over the necessary debate overt the question whether the army, and those giving the orders, are currently doing the things that will bring security to the State of Israel.


This question has nothing at all to do with the exact type of bomb that killed an entire family on the Gaza beach.


The army knows this full well. It has a lot of experience in the current conflict. The case of Mohammed al-Dura was a similar one: Then, too, we concentrated on the question of "who killed him," rather than asking ourselves whether our belligerent policy in Gaza was helping our security situation. And there were enough question marks about the incident that many Israelis allowed themselves to be convinced that it wasn't an IDF bullet that killed al-Dura.


At the same time, a massive IDF response to protests created a huge ratio between the number of Palestinian and Israeli injured.


Today, many of those responsible for that policy admit that it brought about a continuation of violence and led to the massive outbreak of terror in mid-2001.


Does it help?


I don't know who killed that girl's family. The pain transmitted in those pictures is heartbreaking, but it was also a individual incident that says little about justice or justification. I do know there is a need to question what Israel is doing in Gaza. We must ask ethical questions, but even more we must ask whether or not our actions there are helping us.


"We can't plan our actions according to Palestinian requests," said IDF Southern Commander Gen. Yoav Galant about civilian deaths in combat. That's true. It is also true that the deaths of Israeli civilians from terror attacks is no less heartbreaking – and subjectively even less inevitable, since the suffering in this case is ours, as is the threat to us.


The question Galant and his superiors must answer is whether or not their actions are bringing closer the repetition of such pictures here: The day after the beach explosion (which, it bears reminding, came the day after the assignation of Jamal Abu –Samhadana), an unprecedented shower of Qassams rained down on Sderot, and the military wing of Hamas began moving towards a resumption of its terror campaign.


This is what we must deal with, instead of harping on about the appalling pictures we keep seeing on television.


פרסום ראשון: 06.14.06, 16:31
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