Gaza police and noncombatant immunity

Phil Weiss, who’s read more of the Goldstone report than I have at this point, zeroes in on the paragraphs Goldstone and Co wrote about the IDF’s killings of police officers and cadets in Gaza.
He writes,

    The mission reports that 99 policemen and 9 civilians were killed in the first minutes of the slaughter. Overall, 240 policemen were killed during the war– a sixth of the Gaza casualties. Police were “deliberately” targeted. And on what basis? Well, Israel regards the police institutionally– or in large part individually– as part of the Gazan military.
    The mission analyzed the history of the Gaza police since the Hamas takeover in 2007. While policemen were recruited from Hamas followers, Goldstone found that the police are a “civilian law-enforcement agency” and that the police targets of Dec. 27 were none of them taking part in hostilities and had not lost their “civilian immunity.” Yes “individual” policemen were surely members of armed groups and can be considered combatants. But the Israeli attacks failed to strike an acceptable balance, between anticipated military advantage of destruction and civilian damage. The great majority of these policemen were civilians. So the mission concludes,This was a violation of international humanitarian law.

Now, Phil makes some very important points in that post. But he– and we– should note that a “civilian” is not the same as a “noncombatant”.
A noncombatant is a person whom, under international humanitarian law, it is forbidden to target, and who is therefore “protected” by IHL.
This includes civilians but it also includes members of a military formation who are not currently fighting. Hence the specificity of the term “noncombatant.”
This class of persons includes all civilians. It also includes members of military formations who are “hors de combat” because of injuries– along with members of military formations who are not “on duty” in the military at the time.
It would include, for example, even senior officers in the IDF or any other military (or of Hamas’s military formations) who are off duty– sleeping in their homes, or whatever. And it includes the many members of Israel’s reserve forces who, during the Gaza war or at any other time, might have been sleeping at home and going about their normal family and professional lives.
Many members of the police force in a place like Sderot may, for example, have also been reserve officers in the IDF. But at any time that they are not actually engaged in combat as part of the IDF– or, I think, in military training, which is a preparation for combat– they are considered noncombatants, and therefore have all the IHL protections of noncombatants.
Thus, for a Gazan, simply being a member of an armed group does not make a person into a “combatant”, that is, a legitimate target of Israeli fire. Unless he is currently engaged in combat, which the cadets at a police academy graduation ceremony evidently weren’t.
That’s the great thing about international humanitarian law: it applies to everyone in the same way.
… Anyway, that’s my only quibble with what is otherwise a really excellent post by Phil.

46 thoughts on “Gaza police and noncombatant immunity

  1. bb

    Hmmmn. Well of course the cadets were in the service of the Hamas regime which had taken power from the lawful PA by a military coup back in 2007 and were as a consequence exercising totalitarian military rule over the people of Gaza. Of course some might point out that the people of Gaza had voted for Hamas in the 06 elections, but as I recall Hamas did not stand in that election on a platform of overthrowing the PA by military force? Far from it. Correct me if am wrong, but as I recall the PA was and still is the lawful governing entity of Palestine, not Hamas, and the security forces of Gaza should be under the control of the PA? As they shouild have been at the time of the Hamas coup in 2007?
    Given that Hamas adheres to a covenant of the destruction of Israel, mounted tunnel attack on Israel itself in 2006 and has continually fired rockets into Israeli civilian areas since 2005, I’m not sure if the post PA illegal government’s police force would be counted as “non-combatants”?

  2. Craig

    bb: “Well of course the cadets were in the service of the Hamas regime which had taken power from the lawful PA by a military coup back in 2007 and were as a consequence exercising totalitarian military rule over the people of Gaza.”
    Absolute nonsense. There was a legal and fair election in the Palestinian Israeli-occupied territories in 2006. Hamas won the election, whereupon Fatah, Israel, and the Bush administration decided to simply ignore the results. It is Fatah’s government that is illegal, so the claim that the PA had a “lawful” government in 2007 is either dishonest or delusional.

  3. vadim

    This includes civilians but it also includes members of a military formation who are not currently fighting. Hence the specificity of the term “noncombatant.”
    My goodness, this would make any aerial bombing of any kind on most any latent military target a war crime. I seem to remember your claim that the marine barracks bombing wasn’t a war crime because sleeping marines are still marines. Do you no longer hold this view?
    HC: I am not counting here actions taken against military personnel who have after all placed themselves in a position where they have a “right” to kill under certain circumstances and also knowingly accept the risk that they might be killed

  4. Donald

    bb–
    Those nice Fatah people were, with Bush’s help, planning to start a war with Hamas. That’s what was behind the Palestinian civil war.
    Neither side is innocent–what’s funny are the Westerners who condemn Hamas, either not knowing or pretending not to know that the US and Israel hated the thought of a unified Palestinian government which included Hamas and did everything they could to cause the war.
    Link

  5. bevin

    BB: and another thing that I find funny is the use of the term ‘totalitarian.’
    That is as in ‘totalitarian military rule’. There is no evidence given to support this assertion. There is no evidence that you know what you are saying by spraying these terms about.

  6. Steve Connors

    240 policemen. 99 in the first minutes.
    That’s as cynical a days work as I’ve heard of in a while.
    bb, where’s your sense of right and wrong?

  7. Shirin

    of course the cadets were in the service of the Hamas regime which had taken power from the lawful PA by a military coup back in 2007 and were as a consequence exercising totalitarian military rule over the people of Gaza.
    There is so much wrong with this bit of typical bb drivel that if one were to attack it at every point of weakness one would have to go on for pages. So, I will just single out the first ridiculous aspect that comes to mind. The cadets, most if not all of whom were just traffic cops, were “in the service of the Hamas regime”, and so they were legitimate targets, eh? By that (il)logic everyone who worked for the government was a legitimate target on the same basis from the highest civilian officials to the janitors who cleaned the offices, and all the secretaries and clerks and others in between, not to mention the doctors, nurses, and technicians who worked in the hospitals, the teachers, the people who maintained the computer systems, the electricians, the gardeners, the drivers, and on and on and on.
    Gosh, now that I think of it, I guess the Israelis really DID show restraint didn’t they? If they had been serious about killing ALL those who worked “in the service of the Hamas regime” they could have killed at least an order of magnitude more than they did, and bb would have found perfectly justified.

  8. Shirin

    There is no evidence that you know what you are saying by spraying these terms about.
    Bevin,
    CC: Steve
    As I said above, this is typical of the drivel that bb drips onto the pages of this comment section on a regular basis – but then you know that. bb does not understand, or refuses to acknowledge that it was not Hamas who made a coup. It was Fatah, under the sponsorship of Israel and the U.S., that attempted to make a coup against the legitimately elected Hamas government, and failed completely. As for the silly “totalitarian military rule” bit, even my friends in Gaza, who are anything but fans of Hamas, would fall on the floor laughing at that characterization.
    Clueless bb is valuable around here for comic relief, and that is about all.

  9. bb

    Shirin, I don’t think for one moment that Israel showed restraint. Far from it. It never has in the past when it is provoked into mounting a punitive military operation, and it was no different this time. Hamas’s great crime, in my view, was to blatantly provoke Israel for nearly 4 years but not provide underground shelters for the people, as it did for its own fighters, when the inevitable massive retaliation came. Strangely, I can’t find this mentioned in the Goldstone Report? For Hamas, the lives of their civilians are cheap fodder and unlike Hezbollah, squibbed the fight. Pathetic performance.
    Israel struck at Hamas’s capacity to train law enforcement officers to control its civilian population. It did so without mercy. It was extremely successful, in that the rockets have stopped and Hamas has not been able to restore its previous capacities. Meanwhile, Dayton, the poms and the Candanians plough ahead with the training of effective security forces in the service of the PA. Which I’m afraid is STILL the legal governing authority for Palestine despite the fantasies of so many posters here.
    Gaza, because of Hamas, is becoming increasingly irrelevant to the future Palestinian state which will be determined – whichever way it goes – by the West Bankers and the PA.

  10. kassandra

    The word “legal” uttered by an Israel-firster is a farce. You must subscribe to the John Yoo school of jurisprudence.

  11. Shirin

    Ah, yes, bb, Israel was merely responding to Hamas’ provocations. Yes, indeed, it is simply intolerable for Hamas to honor a ceasefire by refraining from firing any rockets itself, and buy restraining other rocket-firing groups, including Fatah, so effectively that it achieved a 99% reduction in rocket fire. One can easily see how that would provoke Israel into an action that had been in the planning for most of the year.
    Yes, indeed, bb, Israel was completely justified to imprison, “put on a diet”, and then launch a murderous and destructive attack on the people of Gaza in response to Hamas’ conscientious observation of the ceasefire, despite Israel’s refusal to meet its obligations.

  12. Shirin

    Israel struck at Hamas’s capacity to train law enforcement officers to control its civilian population. It was extremely successful, in that the rockets have stopped and Hamas has not been able to restore its previous capacities.
    Israel struck at Hamas’ capacity to train traffic cops, and that has stopped the rockets, and prevented Hamas from restoring its previous capabilities to train traffic cops, which is what causes rockets?
    You are very confused, bb, as usual.

  13. Titus

    Were these policemen somehow responsible for making sure that no rockets are illegally launched from Gaza? If they were I guess they were not very effective for the last few years? Is the police in Gaza somehow responsible for making sure that nobody is abducted or held against his will by one clan or another? A journalist for example, an abducted soldier? If so they were not very effective for the last years.
    Were these policemen armed? If they were I would not call them civilians. target or no target that is not for me to decide. I always argued that Israel should not pick specific targets, just return fire.
    If one missile land, return 100. Then the causality is clear and you really stop sending rockets if 100 come back your way. For all the parrots talking about proportional response, that is exactly proportional, you receive one you send 100, you receive 2 you send 200. The proportion is 100 to 1, and is well known in advance. That brings silence really quick, except silence from the cheap bloggers, specially the paid one, there is never silence from those because that is their livelihood.

  14. Alexno

    Were these policemen armed? If they were I would not call them civilians.
    That’s the first time I heard US cops were not civilians, but by your logic they’re part of the military.

  15. vadim

    Alexno, I agree that policemen are civilians. But it isn’t obvious to me that HAMAS distinguishes between its police and its militia. unlike a conventional police force its command structure is secret. But I am open to evidence that they do dsitinguish between militia and police, if you can find any.
    Are HAMAS policemen not also soldiers? thats the question. Are all soldiers not actively engaged in combat valid military targets or not? Helena once thought otherwise when she was rationalizing the assault on the marine barracks in 1983 (and again when rationalizing the abduction of border guards in Israel) where do you stand? Are HAMAS cross border attacks also war crimes?
    Shirin, on this thread (http://justworldnews.org/mt/mt-comments.cgi?entry_id=1312) , you argued forcefully that Iraqi policemen (“collaborators!”) were valid targets for guerrillas operating in iraq, and that they weren’t civilians (“No, police are NOT civilians”). have you like Helena changed your mind? Were all these attacks war crimes after all? This is most encouraging.

  16. Steve Connors

    Vadim,
    In Iraq most policemen were not regarded as “legitimate targets” by the more nationalist resistance groups – a distinction that became something of a point of contention with a minority of the more hardline Islamists. You may recall this was a notable point made by the Reform and Jihad Front (which, surprisingly, included Ansar al-Sunna). Police commando units were regarded differently by all as, by no twist of the imagination, could they be considered non-combatants. It’s interesting to put that into the context of H.R. McMasters recent comments at the Naval War College:
    http://ricks.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2009/09/18/mcmaster_speaks_what_went_wrong_in_iraq
    To make an argument that just the possibility of the Gaza policemen also being a part of the Hamas structure changes their status is dangerous, I think. How many Israeli policemen are also army reservists? Are they – on suspicion – also to be regarded as combatants when on duty in, say, Tel Aviv? Would a terrorist bomb targeting a policeman on a bus therefore not be a terrorist attack but military in nature? Would the civilians also killed and wounded in the attack be classified as “collateral damage”? These are slippery slopes.
    Finally, the early stages of any military assault will be designed to deal with high priority targets – those that represent the greatest threat to the attackers. If police cadets were high enough on that list to necessitate them being eliminated in the opening minutes of the attack, what does that say about the real threat levels represented by Gaza and Hamas?

  17. bluecanary

    “In all wars they kill people including children”
    But not as A DELIBERATE POLICY to terrorize the civilian population?
    I served in the military for seven years and I have never heard of hundreds of children being killed as a deliberate tactic and then justified on the specious argument that they were a threat to one of the most heavily armed (by America) armies in the world.
    There are always people who will spread propaganda throughout the media for their cause and hope that it will be absorbed as truth, and there are those who will disseminate fact as informative news.
    It was ever thus in every conflict.

  18. Derick Schilling

    “A noncombatant is a person whom, under international humanitarian law, it is forbidden to target, and who is therefore “protected” by IHL.
    This includes civilians but it also includes members of a military formation who are not currently fighting. Hence the specificity of the term “noncombatant.”
    This class of persons includes all civilians. It also includes members of military formations who are “hors de combat” because of injuries– along with members of military formations who are not “on duty” in the military at the time.”
    If Usama Bin Laden is sitting in a house in Waziristan listening to the recitation of a religious text on an iPod, is he then a noncombatant under IHL? And would it be a violation of IHT for the US to kill him with a Hellfire missile at that moment?

  19. bb

    Shirin:
    Israel didn’t attack the police cadets because they were firing rockets; they destroyed them along with the rest of the infrastucture to demonstrate to Hamas that they COULD. And WOULD. At any time of their choosing.
    Not very pretty. But from the Israel perspective, very effective.
    I don’t see much prospect of that border being reopened to allow reconstruction, do you? How long has it been now?

  20. Steve Connors

    “they destroyed them along with the rest of the infrastucture to demonstrate to Hamas that they COULD. And WOULD. At any time of their choosing.”
    Mass murder for the sake of example?
    I believe that’s what the fuss is all about isn’t it?
    And bb, you write about it so, well, admiringly!

  21. Steve Connors

    Derick,
    I believe that we have seen such attacks on a number of occasions in Iraq and Afghanistan without any claims that the people involved were hors de combat. Indeed, like soldiers, they probably consider themselves to be permanently on duty and therefore in the fight.
    As for OBL: wouldn’t we all prefer that he be caught and tried for crimes he is alleged to have committed?
    But I understand that the argument here is over whether a policeman is to be regarded as a combatant or not.

  22. Shirin

    I understand that the argument here is over whether a policeman is to be regarded as a combatant or not.
    According to the always rational and humane bb, it doesn’t matter. If they are part of the civil infrastructure (which police precisely are), then they can be “taken out” at will just to show “we can”.
    Now, I don’t want to say that I find bb’s mentality and that of her ilk sickening, but would someone kindly point me to the vomitorium? Quickly. please.

  23. Derick Schilling

    Steve,
    I understood Helena’s comments to encompass cases beyond the Gaza police, hence my question. Whether police should be regarded as combatants depends, in part, on whether they play a paramilitary role or not.
    As for UBL/OBL, I have no doubt as to his role in the crimes he is “alleged” to have committed, and, in light of the hash being made of proceedings against Khalid Sheikh Muhammad, would be quite content to see Bin Laden and al-Zawahiri killed by US missile strikes.

  24. Steve Connors

    Personally, I would prefer to see OBL and Aa-Z in front of a judge and jury. Dealing with them as combatants gives legitimacy to acts of terrorism. We would also be able to examine the evidence – one would hope….
    Even when policemen have a paramilitary role it is usually for the purpose of internal control – such as a SWAT team. That wouldn’t classify them as combatants and if we were to go in that direction it would extend an air of legitimacy to groups who, for political purposes like to see themselves in a state of war against the state. I’m thinking of PIRA, ETA etc.

  25. Shirin

    would be quite content to see Bin Laden and al-Zawahiri killed by US missile strikes.
    Along with, of course, any men, women, children, and elderly people who had the misfortune of finding themselves within the blast radius, or happened to get hit when the missile went astray.
    And of course, murdering Bin Laden and Al Dhawahiri will change the game completely? Al Qa`eda will crumble, and terrorism will come to a screeching halt – NOT. If anything at all changed, it would change for the worse.

  26. Derick Schilling

    One would hope that OBL and al-Zawahiri, or at least the people who have chosen to shelter them, keep them at a distance from innocent bystanders.
    Killing OBL will not mean an end to AQ, but I still would much prefer to see him die violently at the hands of the US government than from natural causes.
    Using military means to kill terrorists no more gives legitimacy to terrorism than fighting pirates with the navy gives legitimacy to piracy.
    Some paramilitary police forces operate (or operated historically) outside of national boundaries, or act as combatants inside their national boundaries.

  27. bb

    Sigh. Not in the business of moral outrage on this issue, either of Hamas or of Israel.
    Israel’s goal is to preserve the jewish state at all costs and, for the long term, increase its size as much as possible; Hamas goal in the short-term is to take over or destroy the PA/PLO and long-term is to replace the jewish state with an Islamic state.
    The question in my mind is: the effectiveness of the tactics and strategies each side is pursuing to achieve its goals. I think Hamas was doing very well up until 2006 but seems to have very much lost the plot since then.
    Here’s another example:
    Between 1994 and 2006 Hamas’s suicide bombing strategy was remarkably successful in pursuit of its short term goal to undermine,and if possibly destroy the Oslo Accords. This strategy climaxed in 2005 when it forced the Sharon goverment to withdraw all Israeli settlements from Gaza, which enabled Hamas to fill the power vaccuum that resulted.
    another statement of the obvious which makes no moral judgement about the deaths of Israeli civilians over those years?

  28. Steve Connors

    Derick,
    Who uses policemen in military style actions beyond their own state boundaries?
    Interestingly selective reading of history there bb.
    The two of you sail very close to the kind of reasoning OBL and his supporters used to justify 9/11.

  29. Derick Schilling

    The Germans sent Order Police battalions to Poland to massacre Jews.
    The Soviets used NKVD formations in Eastern Europe, 1944-45.
    Ihe Israeli Border Police operates on the West Bank.
    How am I sailing “very close to the kind of reasoning OBL and his supporters used to justify 9/11”?

  30. Steve Connors

    I’m sorry Derick but the three examples you cite are not law enforcement structures. They are not policemen.
    “One would hope that OBL and al-Zawahiri, or at least the people who have chosen to shelter them, keep them at a distance from innocent bystanders.”
    There’s much implied by that phrase.
    Better would be: one would hope that potential attackers first ensured that no innocent bystanders were in danger of death or serious injury by their actions.

  31. vadim

    Now, I don’t want to say that I find bb’s mentality and that of her ilk sickening, but would someone kindly point me to the vomitorium?
    Shirin, a vomitorium is an architectural feature of an ampitheater, from the latin word meaning “to spew out.” It literally means ‘exit’ not ‘place to barf.’
    The ‘exit’ button for most browsers is located in the upper right ( a small x). I hope you find it, and use it!!

  32. Derick Schilling

    I find it hard to see why the German Order Police shouldn’t be considered police:
    http://www.deathcamps.org/reinhard/orpo.html
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ordnungspolizei
    In general I was referring to police being used in paramilitary role, or the paramilitary forces of internal security/police organizations. In the particular instance of Gaza, I’ve yet to see anything that convinces me that the Gaza police force was purely a “law enforcement” organization with no paramilitary role to play in Hamas plans (such as they were) for resisting an Israeli incursion.
    “Better would be: one would hope that potential attackers first ensured that no innocent bystanders were in danger of death or serious injury by their actions.”
    Unless we were able to hit OBL while he was riding in an SUV with his bodyguards, holding by this rule would give him virtual impunity from missile or bomb attack. This is a policy I would not endorse. Nor do I subscribe to the belief that the avoidance of harm to civilians is purely the responsibility of the attacker. In World War II it was the responsibility of the defender to decide whether cities would be declared “open” (undefended), as were Paris in 1940 and Rome in 1944. Perhaps Hamas should have declared Gaza, Khan Yunis, and Rafah to be open cities as soon as Cast Lead began, especially since they had no useful plans to defend them.

  33. Steve Connors

    Did you read that wiki? Except for thos ewho were incorporated into the Waffen SS (not police) they were serving in Germany. Once people move from law enforcement to death camp or counter-insurgency operations I think we can stop calling them policemen.
    Are you seriously comparing the Gazan police cadets to this Nazi organization?
    Yes, it is the responsibility of the attackers to determine whether there will be innocent civilians killed as a result of an attack.
    You see Derick, that’s what is supposed to hold us at an elevated moral state to OBL and his chums. At least that’s what we profess to be. Isn’t that the case? Should that not be the case?
    I think I rest my case.

  34. bb

    Vadim – if I could lapse into moral outrage for a moment I thought the opening slaughter of those young police cadets at their graduation was exceptionally cruel even by previous Israeli standards. Just as the mass suicide slaughters perpetrated by Hamas for all those years was also exceptionally cruel.
    I understand why Israel feels it has to play by middle east rules in order to survive. However, I would like you to tell me why Israel does not provide bomb shelters for its Israeli-Arab citizens? Is that middle east rules too – arab lives are expendable?

  35. Derick Schilling

    1. Yes, I read the wiki. Did the Paris police stop being “police” when they rounded up thousands of Jews in 1942? I don’t understand why we should stop calling police “police” just because they are no longer engaged in “law enforcement” we approve of.
    2. I was not making a *moral* comparison between the Gaza police cadets and the German Order Police, any more than I was making a moral comparison between them and the Israeli Border Police.
    3. I do think attackers are responsible for weighing the risk to civilian life, but the idea that *any* risk should prevent *any* attack belongs to an age when wars were conducted between armies in uniform fighting in open countryside. I’m sure the IDF would love to have it out with Hamas Waterloo style, but alas, Hamas isn’t likely to oblige. Until then, hard choices will have to be made. There have been some fascinating articles in the English-language Israeli press about how Moshe Ya’alon, Avi Dichter, and others approached these questions ealier in the decade. I was impressed by the seriousness with which they confronted them in the real world, as opposed to on Internet discussion forums.

  36. vadim

    bb Im unaware that Israel discriminates in its provision of bomb shelters. If this is the case then I’d agree that it’s unacceptable. Equal access to shelters across all economic and ethnic lines should be a top priority for any Israeli government.

  37. bb

    Vadim “Equal access to bombshelters across all economic and ethnic lines should be a top priority for any Israeli government”.
    Sounds like one of the trite, po-faced motherhood statements that Helena trots out from time to time when she feels the need to look “balanced”.

  38. vadim

    Sounds like one of the trite, po-faced motherhood statements that Helena trots out from time to time when she feels the need to look “balanced”.
    Sorry for not showing more interest in your digression, but I don’t know enough about it to offer anything more than an insipid answer. I’m not quite sure why it was asked of me. I never claimed that discrimination against Arabs in Israel is a fiction, and i sure don’t care about seeming ‘balanced.’ But demonstrations of outrage interest me less than the substantive issues of IHL involved here (plus there’s a general surplus of outrage so why add to the pile.)
    I’m sure we agree that civilians (Jewish or Arab) shouldn’t be targeted with missiles. But according to the terms of the 1977 Geneva protocol (art 43), all armed forces answerable to a common command are legally ‘combatants’; hence my earlier question, which was asked in earnest, about HAMAS’ chain of command. Personally I’d like to know what IHL-compliant ways exist for Israel to defend itself from missile attacks, given that no-one really knows the command structure of HAMAS, or who even is IN HAMAS, except those few who show up in uniform. Any ideas?

  39. Eurosabra

    There is a backlog because until the advent of Homefront Command, shelters were a municipal issue and Arab municipalities were under-funded, partly due to a low local tax-base caused on occasion by a local government in the hands of one clan being tax-friendly to businesses run by members of the same clan. The big, thick walls of traditional Arab houses and the courtyard design were thought to be adequate protection from Katyushot and battlefield-(as opposed to theater-) level rockets for a very long time as well.
    The Blood Libel aspect of the accusation makes me unwilling to dignify it with a longer response.

  40. Shirin

    Why, Eurosabra, that last little bit of apologetics from you is an absolute masterpiece. It’s only flaw is that it is so extremely transparent, nevertheless it belongs in the Apologetics Hall of Fame! Congratulations.

  41. Eurosabra

    Shirin,
    I have an extensive background in Civil Defense, and look forward grimly and with sad resignation to the day Hezbollah SCUDS strike Israeli-Palestinians of the Galilee in the best shelters Pikud Ha’Oref can provide them. As you are a supporter of the Syrian regime, shouldn’t you refuse to address me in this forum or any other?

  42. Shirin

    Who says I am a supporter of the Syrian regime, and what has that to do with whom I choose to address or not to address?
    If you care so much about the Palestinian citizens of Israel, why are you making excuses for the fact that they are not provided with shelters on the same basis as the Jewish citizens of The Jewish State?

  43. Eurosabra

    I’m explaining the shortfalls, some of which they engineered themselves. As you live in Damascus, I have no wish to pass on any other information that could be useful in targeting.

  44. Shirin

    So, now you are claiming that the Palestinian Israeli citizens and not the Israeli government are the ones responsible for the fact that they do not have shelters while their more equal Jewish citizens do? Pardon me if I am misunderstanding you, but that is certainly how it sounds.
    And it’s very kind of you to worry about my safety, but there is no need. I have been subjected to far more scrutiny and difficulty in the United States than I ever have in Syria or anywhere else in the Middle East.

  45. Eurosabra

    No one expected rockets where no rockets had gone before, and there were shelters in the urban areas that were pressed into ad hoc use after years of disuse. In rural areas, there were few shelters of any use, because of municipal neglect, in both “Arab” and “Jewish” areas. It’s not like I’m going to tell you where to hit.

  46. bb

    Eurosabra and Vadim:
    Thank you for the clarification and confirmation. Given that the sheer numbers and duration of the attack came as a surprise to Israel I can understand why the bomb shelter issue had not been addressed before then.
    But since then? It’s not only Hez, it is the extremely liklihood that Israel is going to have to take on the Iranian nuke facilities, in which case Israelis will almost certainly be facing retaliation.
    What has been done to ensure the Israeli arab communities will have adequate shelters? What happened during the recent national “rehearsal” day, for instance? Was an effort made to ensure the Israeli arabs participated? The Israeli state should do this, and more importantly, be SEEN to be doing it, even if components of the communities don’t want it! It’s a straightforward matter of State obligations, in my view. (There was also a similiar issue in relation to the distribution of gas masks in 1991, as I recall. Again, I felt it was incumbent on the Israeli government to distribute protective masks, including to the Territories, regardless of the fact that a number of palestinians were inciting Saddam’s attacks on Israel?)
    I raised the bomb shelter issue because in an earlier comment I had expressed my disgust at the way Hamas continues to make war against Israel and then deliberately fails to protect its arab civilian population. This is not a racist blood libel issue, but an issue of government obligation in my mind.
    But now you have made the accusation, Shirin might start posting nice things about me! Oh dear, perish at the thought.

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