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International Politics - Are Israeli Tactics Working?

June 18th 2006

International Politics - Are Israeli Tactics Working?


On June 9th a Palestinian family was killed on a Gaza beach, apparently by Israeli shelling.  Nine days later nine more civilians were killed by an Israeli missile strike. According to an AP report, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas vows to uphold the cease-fire "in order to have people living in peace."

Interestingly, the Israelis were shelling Gaza around the time the Palestinian family was killed, but Israel says they are not responsible for the killing.  Many people suspect that the family was killed by a stray shell. 

There has been a 16 month cease fire in effect between Israel and Hamas, but violence has since resumed with Israeli air-strikes late Friday.  This is after a rag-tag group of Palestinian militants fired five homemade rockets into Israel. 


Terror attacks, by definition are intentional attacks against innocent civilians. The big question is whether Hamas should be held responsible for terror attacks committed by Palestinians.  Obviously the government (and by extension the people who elect the government) of Israel should be held responsible for the actions of their military.

Hamas says they are not responsible for the attacks by citizens of Palestine.  That seems reasonable.  It is hard to hold all Christians accountable for the acts of a few abortion clinic bombers who profess to be Christian, so why hold Palestinians accountable for the acts of their civilians?  But shouldn’t the Israeli government be held accountable for the actions of the Israeli “government”. 

Henry Siegman, writing in the LA Times, says that the vast disproportion between Palestinian civilian casualties from Israeli "mistakes" and Israeli casualties from Palestinian terrorist assaults also brings into question the distinction between the two.  Is it OK to kill innocent people if you say you were not targeting them? Palestinians insist that, like the Israelis, their objective is not to kill innocent civilians, according to Siegman. Comment on this article at our Forum

The question has to be asked “why do some Palestinians resort to terror?”  It appears to have worked for Jews early on in the formation of Israel.  According to Siegman, some in the Jewish community in Palestine also resorted to this means when they were engaged in their own struggle for national independence and statehood. The Irgun, a Jewish terrorist organization that morphed into the Likud, first targeted Arab civilians in October 1937. In his history of Israel's War of Independence, "Righteous Victims," Benny Morris writes that the Irgun "introduced a new dimension to the conflict" when "for the first time, massive bombs were placed in crowded Arab centers, and dozens of people were indiscriminately murdered and maimed." Morris writes that in 1937, "this 'innovation' soon found Arab imitators."

The most important question is whether the Israeli strategy working.  Is it helping their cause to shell or fire rockets into apartments of suspected terrorists?  Is that the way we do things here in the US?  If we suspect a gang member is held-up in an apartment, do we call up apache helicopters with rockets in downtown LA to take him out?  No we don’t.  The police get a search warrant and kick-down the door.  The police have a dangerous job, but this tactic works best. 

If a murder suspect flees to Mexico after killing a police office in California, we don’t hunt him down with apache helicopters firing rockets.  We resolve this through diplomatic efforts.  There are many cases where Mexico refuses to turn over murder suspects apprehended in Mexico.  I would suspect that relations between Mexican citizens and American citizens would be a lot different if we handled situations the way the Israelis do.  I bet innocent American civilians could be in danger of being harmed if we killed thousands of innocent Mexicans, even though we didn’t mean to.

So is the Israeli strategy going to end the murder of innocent Israelis?  I don’t think so.  There is no chance that Israel, with their massive military, will be overthrown by Palestinians or any country in the region. They should consider the policy the US has with Mexico and Canada.  We try to solve things diplomatically.   

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Tom Madison
Freelance Writer

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