Yoaz Hendel

Are we really war criminals?

IDF probes into Gaza operation include needless self-flagellation

Sometimes it appears that we make so much effort to be normal that we stick our head in the sand and mutter words of comfort to ourselves. This is at least what we’ve been doing since the end of Operation Cast Lead.


We came, we fought, we withdrew, yet despite all the efforts to be more righteous than the Vatican’s army and despite the operation’s success in the view of southern residents, we ended this operation badly in the eyes of the world’s self-righteous observers. These are the facts, as opposed to our responses to the Goldstone Committee and the legal inquiries of the IDF’s judge advocate general, which are the interpretation.


Military prosecutors’ need to probe suspicions of grave offences during the operation stems from two reasons: The first and most important one is us – the desire to know that our camp is untainted, much before the Goldstone attack and the complaints of “Human rights” groups. We, the people who believe in our right to live here in a just society, want to know that the IDF maintains high moral standards.


The second, more problematic reason is them. What will those who smeared us chronically ever since the operation ended say? How will the hypocritical (or hateful) critics who view us as a brutal occupier unable to probe itself respond?


And this is precisely where we find the odd reflex that prompts military prosecutors to turn every stone en route to an indictment. When prosecutors look into hundreds of false charges of war crimes they bears the heavy burden of proof on their backs. When an army wishes to prove its innocence in the face of thousands of complaints (most of them fabricated) it must contend with the cruel burden of statistics.


How can one return empty handed after probing so many complaints? How could it be that we don’t have even one war criminal?


Critics will remain unsatisfied

And so, an indictment takes shape, as well as criminal investigations and disciplinary action that give off a stench. Indeed, it may be that the soldier who fired at civilians is a brutal war criminal. On the other hand, ever since the Fourth Geneva Convention, not one criminal had been caught who operated in line with the IDF’s strict rules of engagement: Warning, firing warning shots in the air, firing warning shots towards the legs, and only then “carrying out one’s evil plot” - even if the circumstances required immediate action.


So indeed, it’s possible that the battalion commander who permitted a begging Palestinian to personally clear terrorists from a nearby building (which happens to be this Palestinian’s only property, which could have been destroyed by the army otherwise) violated the delusional ban on the so-called “neighbor procedure.” However, this is not a problem that requires disciplinary action – rather, it’s a test case dilemma for IDF instructors to go over with their trainees.


And as a matter of fact, deep inside, we know that even if we make the utmost efforts and somehow find half-guilty parties and semi-war criminals, it won’t satisfy those who write the reports about us.



פרסום ראשון: 07.07.10, 11:51
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