Israel has released a 160-page report defending Operation Cast Lead in Gaza. The report aims to answer charges that the Israeli counterterror offensive was a disproportionate response to Hamas attacks on Israeli civilians, and accusations of war crimes.
The report, titled The Operation in Gaza (27 December 2008 18 January 2009): Factual and Legal aspects, is available online through the government website.
The stated goal of the paper is to place the Gaza operation in its proper factual and legal context. The paper offers a limited response to some accusations, as the IDF is still conducting comprehensive investigations into allegations regarding the conduct of IDF soldiers.
Hamas is blamed for the operation, with the report's authors explaining that Israel had a right and an obligation to defend its citizens, who were under almost incessant rocket and mortar shell attacks from Gaza. Not only was Hamas launching increasingly frequent attacks and deliberately targeting civilians, particularly children, but the terror group was actively working to increase the range and quality of its rockets.
While the report firmly supports Israel's counter-terror operations in Gaza, it also expresses regret for civilian casualties in Gaza. Israel makes no attempt to minimize the human costs incurred. However, the authors point out, civilian deaths and damage to property, even when considerable, do not necessarily mean that violations of international law as such have occurred.
The report makes use of Israeli statistics regarding casualties of the Gaza operation. Israeli investigators found that 1,166 Gaza residents were killed in the operation, the majority of them terrorists. Hamas, which does not define Hamas police or Hamas fighters aged 16-18 as terrorists, disputes the numbers, and claims that more than 1,400 Gaza residents were killed, most of them civilians.
In defense of Israel's method of counting terrorists, the report makes use of Hamas propaganda and obituaries to prove that Hamas police are also active members of Hamas' openly terrorist armed forces.
Pictures Show Use of Civilian Shields
The report includes several pictures and aerial photographs backing Israel's claims that Hamas put Gaza civilians in danger by using them as human shields. Photos show terrorists firing rockets at Israeli towns from within Arab civilian centers, and setting up rockets and mortar launchers near private homes.
Newspapers and human rights groups are also quoted to provide proof of Hamas' abuse of its civilian population. In addition, the report makes use of testimony from Hamas terrorists captured during the operation, who admit to firing rockets from Gaza schools in order to reduce the chances of an Israeli response.
Hamas' weapons arsenal is also illustrated in several pictures, as is the damage caused by Hamas rockets that have hit Israeli towns.
Detailed Response to Allegations
The report gives detailed responses to several specific allegations involving civilian casualties. In some cases the IDF found that deaths were caused by IDF error, while in other cases investigators found that soldiers acted properly, and civilians were killed after choosing not to evacuate despite several warnings of immediate danger.
In still other cases, the IDF found that alleged Air Force strikes never took place, and the civilians listed as having died in the strikes were actually Hamas terrorists who had died in fighting elsewhere in Gaza.
Use of White Phosphorous
One of the controversies surrounding the Gaza operation was the IDF's alleged use of white phosphorous explosives. In fact, the IDF did not use white phosphorous as an incendiary or a weapon, but did use the substance to provide illumination or to create a smokescreen.
White phosphorous is not a banned weapon as human rights groups have claimed, the report states, as international treaties banning the use of incendiary weapons ban only those weapons used offensively, to create fires, and not those used to provide a screen.
If the IDF had refrained from using white phosphorous altogether, it would have risked more casualties, the report argues. In many cases, the use of smokescreens containing white phosphorous prevented the need to use explosive munitions whose impact would have been considerably more dangerous, it states.
When used properly in open areas, white phosphorus munitions are not illegal, but the Human Rights Watch report concludes that the IDF repeatedly exploded it unlawfully over populated neighborhoods, killing and wounding civilians and damaging civilian structures, including a school, a market, a humanitarian aid warehouse, and a hospital.
Israel at first denied it was using white phosphorus in Gaza but, facing mounting evidence to the contrary, said that it was using all weapons in compliance with international law. Later it announced an internal investigation into possible improper white phosphorus use.
"Past IDF investigations into allegations of wrongdoing suggest that this inquiry will be neither thorough nor impartial," Abrahams said. "That's why an international investigation is required into serious laws of war violations by all parties."
The IDF knew that white phosphorus poses life-threatening dangers to civilians, Human Rights Watch said. A medical report prepared during the recent hostilities by the Israeli ministry of health said that white phosphorus "can cause serious injury and death when it comes into contact with the skin, is inhaled or is swallowed." Burns on less than 10 percent of the body can be fatal because of damage to the liver, kidneys, and heart, the ministry report says. Infection is common and the body's absorption of the chemical can cause serious damage to internal organs, as well as death.
If the IDF intended to use white phosphorus as a smokescreen for its forces, it had a readily available non-lethal alternative to white phosphorus - smoke shells produced by an Israeli company, Human Rights Watch concluded.
All of the white phosphorus shells that Human Rights Watch found were manufactured in the United States in 1989 by Thiokol Aerospace, which was running the Louisiana Army Ammunition Plant at the time. On January 4, Reuters photographed IDF artillery units handling projectiles whose markings indicate that they were produced in the United States at the Pine Bluff Arsenal in September 1991.
To explain the high number of civilian casualties in Gaza, Israeli officials have repeatedly blamed Hamas for using civilians as "human shields" and for fighting from civilian sites. In the cases documented in the report, Human Rights Watch found no evidence of Hamas using human shields in the vicinity at the time of the attacks. In some areas Palestinian fighters appear to have been present, but this does not justify the indiscriminate use of white phosphorus in a populated area.
i used to be a steadfast rubber stamp supporter of israel....i am not to say a naysayer of Israel now.....i just see murder as murder....rape as rape...sin as sin....Israel has much innocent blood on it's hands and that cannot be ignored.
i do believe what i think scripture says about israel contrary to what others claim.....but....anyhow.....i digress.....
i am trying to be more open minded and stick to my principles on these things....not just be as the Jack/Jay/Mucc/John's of this world are....and if you say anything against the actions of Israel...you are a bigot jew hater etc....
To say one side is completely blameless is to exercise moral subjectivity. If rocketing a civilian population is a war crime, then so his dropping bombs on a civilian population. There is no such thing as "collateral damage". Military (terrorists really are military, but the emotional appeal of calling them terrorists adds to the hatred and fear factor) -- understand the risks. They KNOW that when they send a drone into Pakistan, or a rocket into Israel, or drop a bomb on Gaza, that there is a good chance a civilian or some civilians are going to get in the way. It is purposeful.
It has now been one year since Israel unleashed its winter holocaust on the population of Gaza. In the intervening months evidence of the senseless barbarity of that assault has continued to pile up, not least in the detailed findings of the UN-commissioned Goldstone report. In early December a warrant was issued in the UK for the arrest of Tzipi Livni, the Israeli foreign minister at the time of the assault, for her part in the war crimes, but Livni evaded justice by cancelling her visit to the UK.
One of the distinctive features of the monstrous assault on Gaza's civilian population was the way in which the Jewish religion was used as an incitement to brutality on the part of the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF). The use of religion in this way comes as no surprise: history is thick with similar examples. When a nation state is founded on the basis of religious and/or ethnic identity such disastrous consequences are almost inevitable, particularly where such a regime is superimposed over a diverse population.
Various political and humanitarian arguments are made for the existence of a Jewish state in the Middle East. But it is the presumed right of Israel to occupy lands identified as Jewish in the archaic, ethnic-cleansing mythology of the Old Testament/Tanakh that has provided the general ideological context for Israel's militaristic behavior, and specifically, last year's Gaza onslaught.
The name of the operation itself had connotations of religious/ethnic self-righteousness, with a cynical edge. "Cast Lead" is a reference to a song sung in Israel to commemorate the beginning of Hanukah, the start of which coincided with the start of the Gaza invasion. Hanukah is often celebrated by the giving of gifts to children, and this song refers to the traditional children's gift of a "dreidel" - a cast lead top - giving this choice of name for the military operation a particularly macabre twist.
In the aftermath of the assault on Gaza, IDF veterans began to reveal the extent to which religious propaganda was used within the Israeli army in preparation for the action. This propaganda emphasized the primacy of Jewish interests in the entire region of Eretz Israel - the mythical "Land of Israel" as defined in archaic religious texts. The army denies that it officially sponsored the distribution of such literature to Israeli forces, but this assertion is contradicted by accounts from within the army that pamphlets handed to troops bore stamps of the IDF and military rabbinate when they were distributed.
The pamphlets given to Israeli soldiers before and during the Gaza invasion included passages such as these quotations from the writings of extremist rabbi Shlomo Avinern:
"[There is] a biblical ban on surrendering a single millimeter of it [the Land of Israel] to gentiles, though all sorts of impure distortions and foolishness of autonomy, enclaves and other national weaknesses. We will not abandon it to the hands of another nation, not a finger, not a nail of it . Is it possible to compare today's Palestinians to the Philistines of the past? And if so, is it possible to apply lessons today from the military tactics of Samson and David? A comparison is possible because the Philistines of the past were not natives and had invaded from a foreign land . They invaded the Land of Israel, a land that did not belong to them and claimed political ownership over our country . Today the problem is the same. The Palestinians claim they deserve a state here, when in reality there was never a Palestinian or Arab state within the borders of our country. Moreover, most of them are new and came here close to the time of the War of Independence."
(Haaretz, 21 January 2009)
The chief rabbi of the IDF, Brigadier General Avichay Rontzki, who is head of religious activities in the military, has been associated with the movement to ethnically cleanse and illegally occupy Palestinian land. An October 2008 article in the Israeli daily newspaper Haaretz describes Rontzki's project to minister to Jewish extremists serving prison sentences for anti-Palestinian terrorist activities. The same article mentions that the military rabbinate under Rontzki had expanded its "educational" activities to combat units of the IDF:
"The Military Rabbinate has been conducting such programs for years, but has greatly stepped up its activities during the past year. Most of the controversial programs are organized by the Jewish Awareness Department of the [military] rabbinate."
(Haaretz, 28 October 2008)
Rontzki and other rabbis also made personal appearances among the troops in the lead-up to the war. According to Haaretz:
"Officers and soldiers reported that they felt "spiritually elevated" and "morally empowered" by conversations with rabbis who gave them encouragement before the confrontation with the Palestinians."
(Haaretz, 26 January 2009)
Military instructions which paralleled the sentiments expressed in the religious instructions noted above were issued to troops in preparation for combat in Operation Cast Lead. Breaking the Silence, an organization of IDF veterans committed to exposing the illegal and immoral circumstances under which they were forced to fight, has revealed that before and during the invasion Israeli soldiers were instructed to treat the inhabitants of Gaza collectively as enemies and essentially to regard the entire Gaza territory as a free fire zone. As one Israeli veteran of the invasion said:
".we asked [our brigade commander] what was going on in Gaza and what was to be expected, stuff like that, and he went so far as to say this was war and in war as in war, no consideration of civilians was to be taken. You shoot anyone you see. I'm paraphrasing here, not literally quoting, but the gist of the matter was very clear. [.] He said something along the lines of "Don't let morality become an issue. That will come up later." He had this strange language: "Leave the nightmares and horrors that will come up for later, now just shoot. [.] If you face an area that is hidden by a building - you take down the building. Questions such as "who lives in that building" are not asked. Whatever gets in your way, you do everything to prevent its getting in your way, regardless of the humanitarian implications of such an action. This was the spirit of things with anyone we happened to talk to."
(Breaking The Silence website)
The results of this policy in Gaza have been well documented by human rights organizations and the UN - the death of 1,400 Palestinians, including around 300 children; massive destruction of property and infrastructure; and the psychological scarring of an entire generation.
One year since the unleashing of this terror, the borders of Gaza remain sealed and the Israelis, along with their Egyptian allies, maintain a stranglehold on the flow of vital supplies for the sustenance of the population and reconstruction of the war damage. On 23 December 2009 a report on the current situation in Gaza was jointly issued by sixteen prominent international aid organizations. It states that:
"Goods and equipment earmarked for rebuilding languish in storage outside Gaza. And much of Gaza still lies in ruins. This is not an accident; it is a matter of policy. The Israeli government's blockade, imposed in 2007 after Hamas took control of Gaza (though long preceded by regular closures and restrictions), not only forbids most Gazans from leaving or exporting anything to the outside world, but also only permits the import of a narrowly-restricted number of basic humanitarian goods. Desperately-needed reconstruction materials are not counted amongst these. So the Gaza civilian population and the United Nations and aid agencies that aim to help them are prohibited from importing materials like cement or glass for reconstruction in all but a handful of cases."
And so the Israeli persecution of the population of Gaza continues. It is difficult to imagine that the Israelis foresee any favorable outcome for themselves or the region from this. However, if their objective is to insure the hatred of another generation of Palestinians and the continuation of regional conflict then they are going about it exactly the right way. That there could be a conscious policy based on this idea is not as preposterous as it sounds. Israel has a well-developed siege mentality which it has used as a vehicle for rallying nationalist sentiment and attracting international sympathy.
Without the ongoing strife between Israel and its Arab neighbors and inhabitants, there would be no justification for the vast sums in military and economic aid given to Israel by the US. Worse yet from the Zionist perspective, there would be the prospect of an accommodation and between peoples and nations in the region. This would finally make the Zionist project totally obsolete except in the minds of those so indoctrinated by religion as to be unreachable by reason.
"Cast Lead" is a reference to a song sung in Israel to commemorate the beginning of Hanukah...
Hanukah is often celebrated by the giving of gifts to children,
and this song refers to the traditional children's gift of a "dreidel" - a cast lead top...
Okay, the only dreidels I've ever seen were made of plastic, wood or clay.
-- There's even a song about a dreidel made of clay...
The Israelis give their kids TOYS made of... Lead...?
-- (What...? Are they getting their Dreidels from China...?)
Before plastic, dreidels were manufactured by casting from solid lead. According to Sol Scharfstein the president of Ktav Publishing, the company started with his parent's idea to manufacture lead dreidels:
After a long search he found a tool and die maker who designed the world's only existing draydel casting machine. Lead is heated in a steel ladel till it melts. The molten lead is then poured into the closed mold. After 15 seconds, the lead sets, at which point the mold is opened and the hot draydel is removed. A good operator like Fannie produced about 75 draydels an hour. The first year was a great success and the exultant duo sold 25,000 lead draydel at 2 cents each, for a total of $500.00 Hallelujah! Life for Asher and Fannie was looking up.
after Christ took up residence in me I understood the dreidel
June 10 2010, 10:36 AM
To adults the letters say "A GREAT MIRACLE HAS HAPPENED HERE"
I understood the meaning that is woven into it even though I never saw a dreidel nor did I ever hear its cute song:)
the Hebrew letters on the dreidel explain the process of regeneration of a soul, of the Jewish people when the time of Messiah comes to them:
the game is cute but the meaning behind it is very serious:
"Nun" means 'nisht' or nothing.
You win nothing, you lose nothing.
"Gimel" means 'gantz' or whole.
You take the whole kitty, leaving 1 object, while everyone else puts in 1 object.
"Hay" means 'halb' or half.
You win half of what's in the kitty plus one if there is an odd number.
"Shin" (or in Israel - "Pay") means 'shtel' or put in.
You lose, and must put one object into the kitty.
To adults the letters say "A GREAT MIRACLE HAS HAPPENED THERE or here"
and what is the miracle?
not only are the letters value 138 which is the number of the COMFORTER or Messiah to the Jewish people, but its all about when a "square becomes a circle" according to Rabbi Ginsburgh:
so what does this mean to me personally since becoming a Jew??
when God begins to SPIN time (square box we are in) we become a circle (dance represents this to me) and in this dance we come out a different "kind"
when it lands
the miricle is the transformation from one soul to another:
the letter shin represents everything beloging to God, (threefold flame coming out of a single point): The ego is nothing without God:
Nun represents the fall of the ego to nothing hence the ability to recognize Messiah
gimel represents the rich man (God) giving to the poor man (the poor in spirit) who inherits the Kingdom because of this GIFT:
hei (five) a letter that is found twice in Gods name YHVH represents the UPPER HALF of the fulfillment of the name: We are first given a NEW HEART which is why the first part of the name YaH is the new heart, while the vov (needle) sews the new heart to the second "hei" which is the NEW MIND, and Gods name is complete in us:
the needle or vov is the Messiah in us doing this work:
Indeed, it was my assumption that the Jewish kids were not poor, but not all of them have Fathers in banking, law, medicine, or insurgency suppression. Nor accounting. So yes, we should also send the depleted uranium toys to Israel.
Perhaps glow in the dark dreidels made from DU will become all the rage?!?
Bringing the children of Palestine and Israel together with a common passion. DU Dreidels.