When Collateral Damage is the Feature not the Bug

Posted on April 9, 2011

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From the NYT [9 Palestinians Die as Israel Hits Gaza in Retaliation for Hamas Attack on Bus, Bronner, Ethan, Akram, Fares, Apr. 9, 2011, A-11]

Of the 14 Palestinians killed since Thursday, 9 were civilians, according to Palestinian medical authorities. Those authorities said dozens were also wounded.

“This situation will be contained,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel said while visiting Prague. “We will not shy away from taking all necessary action, offensive and defensive, to protect our country and its citizens.” He had earlier described the attack on the school bus as crossing a red line, adding, “Whoever tries to harm and murder children will pay with their life.”

Yes, you’re reading that right. Of the 14 Palestinians killed in retaliation, only 5 have been militants, and the vast majority, nearly 65%, have been civilians [and that proportion is substantially increased when injured are factored in]. One could seriously argue that the point of Israeli reprisals is, and generally has been, to terrorize civilians, rather than route “militants”, as many observed during Operation Cast Lead.

It would be interesting to see if Hamas would be given the same benefit of the doubt, if it claimed that the civilian casualties produced by Hamas attacks are merely collateral damage, and the product of attacking legitimate military targets–which in Israel and the OPT includes nearly every illegal settlement, where Israeli “militants” are also well protected by Israel’s military and a large proportion of the Israeli service-aged population.

Yeah, I really doubt it, too.

Note on sourcing: as NYT flees behind a paywall, there seems to be little point in actually linking to sources from the website. Rather, for now, at least, I’ll simply cite as we did in the old days, before the web. Linkage was once one of the greatest attributes of on-line reprting…perhaps that’s coming to an end, with repercussions that are difficult to predict at the moment.