Sunday, July 20, 2014

“Who is Like Our Nation?”

The question is rhetorical. For there is no nation like Israel. 
Said Prime Minister Netanyahu on Friday (emphasis added):
“I have met with the commanders who are leading the IDF operation, uncommonly brave, determined and motivated commanders, with strong values. I am impressed by the motivation of our soldiers, both conscripts and reservists, and their desire to take part in the campaign. They understand that their mission is to defend Israel’s citizens.”
“Our fighters all know that they are fighting for the most just of goals – the defense of our shared home.”
Meet here one uncommonly brave commander with strong values:
Col. Rassan Alian, a Golani Brigade battalion commander, was moderately injured last night when he was hit by shrapnel.  Doctors where he was hospitalized insisted it wasn’t time for him to leave the hospital yet. But the colonel objected: "I have a lot of soldiers over there and I need to get back to them.",7340,L-4546862,00.html
Col. Alian is not some extraordinary exception.  He represents a norm for Israeli commanders.

Overnight, our operations in Gaza increased further.  That this should be necessary at all is painful, but since it IS necessary, it is possible to view the new clear-eyed determination of our political and military echelon with great satisfaction and relief.  This time we are going to do what needs to be done.
IDF Armed Pesonnel Carriers seen crossing through a field near the border with Gaza in Southern Israel on July 18, 2014 (Photo credit: Yossi Aloni/Flash90)
Credit: Yossi Aloni/Flash90
What Netanyahu also said was: The IDF is a moral military without peer; it does not aspire to harm any innocent person. We are operating only against terrorist targets and we regret any inadvertent civilian casualties.
Continue reading for more on how Israel conducts herself.
Also overnight, in the course battle in Gaza, we have lost two more soldiers:
Staff Sergeant Bania Roval, a 20-year-old soldier from Holon, serving in the Paratroopers 101st Battalion, and Second-Lt. Bar Rahav, 21, from Ramat Yishai, from the Engineering Corps.  They were killed in separate actions.  Israel mourns every death.
Credit: TimesofIsrael
A major operation conducted today was against the neighborhood of Shejaia, which had been identified as a main focus of terrorist activity in Gaza.  In the course of the fighting some 40 to 50 Arabs were killed.  The IDF reminded everyone that warnings had been sent out two days ago asking civilians to please leave. These were ignored – or, Hamas advised people to ignore them. At any rate, it was only after the shelling – which has been very heavy – started that people suddenly decided it was essential to leave immediately.
Credit: AFP/Getty
It should be noted that ten tunnels were found in this operation.
Among the dead were family members of Hamas leader Khalil al-Haya.
What happened subsequently – precise media reports vary – is that Hamas asked for a humanitarian ceasefire so the dead and wounded could be evacuated and civilians would have a chance to leave.  The Red Cross intervened, Israel agreed, and a two-hour ceasefire was set – with the proviso that if Hamas broke it, Israel would not hold fire.
It took forty minutes for Hamas – who was said to have wanted this ceasefire – to again start shooting at Israel. Israel returned fire, but then, in spite of this, agreed to once more hold fire and even extend the ceasefire by an additional hour, for those humanitarian reasons.
Are we crazy to do this?  I am sure some think we are.  From where I sit, this sort of humanitarian gesture is fine, AS LONG AS WE PROCEED to pummel Hamas – and don’t pull back in the face of casualties inflicted on the enemy. 
We are fighting two sides of the same war: the military and the public relations.  There are major anti-Israel demonstrations in a host of countries because we are so “vicious.”  If this humanitarian gesture gives people a different view of Israel (a somewhat dubious proposition) that is to the good. 
And, in terms of humanitarian gestures, there’s even more.  (This indeed seems certifiably nuts.)  The IDF is setting up a field hospital at the Erez Crossing between Israel and Gaza:  It is for women and children from Gaza, and includes a delivery room.
What must be remembered here is that we are fighting a defensive war that is entirely justified as our civilians are being targeted. In wars, no matter the precautions, innocents are casualties.  In every war this has been so.  No one can legitimately point a finger – but the world loves to accuse Israel.
The ceasefire pressure is going to increase.  UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon is going to meet with Abbas. And Kerry is coming to the area. How did we get so lucky?
Remember the 20 rockets found in an UNRWA school that UNRWA officials say they knew nothing about?  Well. Israeli officials are objecting to the fact that UNRWA has now turned those rockets over to Hamas.
© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by Arlene Kushner, functioning as an independent journalist. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution. 
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