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Richard Silverstein: Gaza War, Day 13, Major ‚Fashla‘ Causes First IDF Battle Deaths

Ynet confirms that the first IDF battle deaths which occurred today resulted from a major fashla (“disastrous mistake”).  Because an IDF observation post was abandoned, Palestinian militants not only penetrated Israeli territory via a tunnel, they lay in wait for an IDF patrol to pass by.  They attacked the patrol with RPGs, killing a major and sergeant.  One of the Palestinians was killed, but the remaining eight fighters successfully retreated back to Gaza.  In separate attacks, two other IDF soldiers were killed. Bringing the total IDF death toll to five (one was killed by friendly fire).

The infiltration I mentioned above was adjacent to a Negev kibbutz and the Palestinian force could have attempted to attack that community, in which case there may’ve been even more deaths.  According to Hamas, they deliberately chose to wait six hours to attack an IDF patrol, rather than civilians.

A Palestinian rocket landed on a Bedouin residence near Dimona killing one and wounding others.  Israel largely provides bomb shelters for its Jewish citizens.  There are no shelters provided for Bedouin:

The incident in Dimona highlighted the severe lack of bomb shelters and protective cement structures in Bedouin villages across the Negev. Since many Bedouin communities are unrecognized by the government, many basic services are not provided to them. They are also not protected by Iron Dome, which registers their homes as “open areas” and allows rockets to fall there without attempting interception.

“Their homes are what’s called ‘open areas,’” one relative, Yasser al-Beit, told Ynet, “so Iron Dome doesn’t intercept the rockets. And there’s no warning siren. When you hear of impacts in open areas, sometimes it’s fallen (near) one of our homes. This time it fell on people’s home; hit everyone, a mother and children. We have no protection,” he said.

…Two Bedouin girls aged 11 and 13, were seriously injured after a rocket fell near their home on the outskirts of Beersheba.

The girls’ grandfather, Ibrahim al-Wakil said then that “All the residents of the Bedouin diaspora are in danger, especially in the unrecognized villages. They are defenseless. We’ve asked time and again that they give us protection but nothing has been done.”

Although they live in encampments for which it would be difficult to create permanent shelters, it would not be difficult for create stationary shelters near or between such encampments to which the Bedouin could retreat during attacks.  The problem is that the State refuses to recognize these communities.  They literally don’t exist in the eyes of the government.  So it refuses to offer services to them.  Similary, Israel doesn’t sound air raid sirens for missile launches landing near Bedouin communities.  Nor does it site Iron Dome to intercept rockets landing in these zones.  In other words, Israeli Bedouin are Israel’s “disappeared.”

israeli anti war protest

Israeli anti-war protest in Tel Aviv

Yesterday, an IDF soldier was killed by friendly fire from an IDF tank shell.  The IDF has refused to provide any further information on this incident.

Yossi Melman published a piece in The Forward in which he made the nonsensical claim:

Most Israelis — even many on the radical left — share the view that Israel had no choice.

At first, I though he may be referring to Meretz, which has a history of ardently supporting Israeli wars no matter the circumstance.  Usually it takes about two weeks of fighting before Meretz comes to its senses, screws up its courage, and begins posing tentative questions about the wisdom of the military adventure.  After week two or three, it comes  forward with full-throated criticism.

But not this time.  MK Zahava Gal On has forthrightly portrayed this war as a “bloody Gazan swamp (Hebrew), which will cost the lives of IDF soldiers and innocent Palestinians.”

So who, pray tell, are these mysterious “radical leftists” supporting the war on Gaza?  Use of such pejorative terms by supposed journalists exposes their own political prejudices rather than portray the actual views of those they demean.

Some real Israeli peace activists protested the war yesterday in Haifa.  The police arrested 30 of them (Israeli Palestinians naturally) for having the chutzpah to oppose the national consensus.

Another alarming development was this from a NY Times report:

Four Israeli rockets struck a building in Rafah on the same floor where a dozen foreign and Palestinian journalists were working in an office. They narrowly escaped, and Israel later issued a statement saying it was not responsible for journalists’ safety.

Though reporters are becoming ever more vulnerable in military conflicts (U.S. fire killed a foreign journalist in Baghdad several years ago), Israel attributes no value to free speech or a free press when it is deemed contrary to its interests.  It’s a miracle Israel isn’t ranked even lower than its already low ranking in international press surveys.  No democracy expresses the disdain Israel has expressed for the press.

In Pres. Obama’s press conference yesterday, he mentioned dramatically that air raid sirens sounded during his conversation with PM Netanyahu.  This was supposed to instill sympathy for Israel in the press corps.  But imagine what Obama would hear if he bothered to call Ismail Haniyeh, Gaza’s leader.  He wouldn’t hear air raid sirens.  He’d hear Israeli missiles toppling buildings and the wail of ambulances and screaming children.  He’d hear the overbearing roar of his own nation’s F-16 engines flying low over Gaza, terrifying 1.8 million civilians.  But of course Obama can’t and won’t talk to a Palestinian leader.  Because to do show would show unseemly sympathy for the bad guys in this script concocted by the Israel Lobby.

In a related development, I’ve previously covered here the skeptical views about Iron Dome of Prof. Ted Postol, Haaretz’s late military analyst, Reuven Pedatzur, and Israel Defense Prize winnner, Dr. Moti Shefer.  Shefer has bet the house in his criticism of Iron Dome saying virtually the entire system is an IDF ruse:

Israel Defense Prize laureate and aerospace engineer Dr. Moti Shefer, whose specialty is interception missiles, says Iron Dome is a bluff. It doesn’t intercept anything but rather invents virtual rockets. The explosions we hear are the sounds of Iron Dome missiles self-destructing. As of the writing of these lines, Hamas rockets have done very little damage to people and property. We see this as proof of Iron Dome’s efficacy and reliability; Shefer says the number of rockets coming in from the Gaza Strip is immeasurably smaller than what Iron Dome reports and in any case they are tinpot weapons, so 95 percent of the time we are safe anyway, irrespective of Iron Dome (and the endless “open spaces” with which we have suddenly been blessed, like some new sort of manna rained down upon us by a benevolent deity).

A word of caution is in order.   The anti-missile system Shefer proposed to the IDF was rejected in favor of Iron Dome.  So he does have an axe to grind.  But if he was the only figure criticizing it that might be significant.  Considering there are many experts doing so, his criticism bears taking notice.  Here’s another of those experts expressing his reservations.

The concluding sentence of this Haaretz report on Iron Dome, from which I quoted above, is worthy of serious consideration, and constitutes the reason I’ve paid so much attention to the issue:

It is amazing that none of the media are investigating this assertion [that Iron Dome is a fraud]. No one wants to know

 

Source: Richard Silverstein

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