Tuesday, July 30, 2002

Flit writes:

Put it another way. Hamas says all civilians in Israel are legitimate military targets because the country has universal military service for its citizens, male and female. Once Israel decides that ALL Palestinians are, as Ralph Peters put it today, "legitimate military targets" so long as any hostilities continue, how then to distinguish the two positions?

Israel has never intimated anything about all Palestinians being legitimate targets. So why set up a strawman? Who the heck is Ralph Peters?

The Israelis could have used a 500-lb bomb instead of a 2000-lb bomb. They could have used a Hellfire missile, with impunity. Either would still have certainly killed Shehadeh, the target. Either would certainly have led to fewer collateral casualties. But no, they used the most powerful conventional weapon in their arsenal on this man. Why?

I doubt that the bomb used was "the most powerful conventional weapon" in the Israeli arsenal. You seem to be intimating that the death of civilians was intentional.

If you had been following the extensive discussion of the affair in the Israeli media you would know that the consensus was that a copter-fired missile is insufficient to guarantee killing Shehade. The IDF claimed that the bomb would cause only minimal damage to surrounding buildings. Most people, including the Internal Security Service, find this claim by the IDF to be blatantly unrealistic.

Essentially what happened is that the IDF was overeager to get Shehade and this skewed the way in which they presented things to the political echelon. As Zeev Schiff notes in an article that I link to below, this has unfortunately happened on a small number of specific previous occasions. Perhaps the controversy this time will jolt the IDF (and the political echelon) into avoiding this pitfall. It remains the case that Israel's Standard Operation Procedure is to avoid collateral damage to civilians even at significant cost to its soldiers or the success of its missions.

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