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Gaza. Palestinian Children Schools Once Again Become Military Targets of Israel

As expected, based on previous bloody campaigns, Israel is saving some of it heaviest firepower and contempt for Palestinian children taking refuge in schools.

'Gaza's day of carnage - 40 dead as Israelis bomb two UN schools'.

The UN was particularly incensed over targeting of the schools, because Israeli forces knew they were packed with families as they had ordered them to get out of their homes with leaflet drops and loudspeakers. It said it had identified the schools as refugee centres to the Israeli military and provided GPS coordinates...(that was a mistake)

The head of the UN Palestinian refugee agency, John Ging (Irish, well he sounds Irish), said the UN staff vetted those Palestinians who sought shelter at the school. "So far we've not had violations by militants of our facilities."

Explaining its attack on al-Fahora school, the Israeli military claimed that a mortar was fired from the playground.

The US press, practically an IDF mouthpiece, takes Israel at its word, whenever it says it is being fired on or threatened, and even when contradicted later by Israeli principals, refuse to re-examine Israel's IDF talking points or exercise the skepticism they reserve for Pentagon press releases. The USA political establishment is even more decidely more pro-Israeli than Israel, or its most famous General.

For three decades Israel has cited vital security concerns to justify its seizure of the Golan Heights. Israelis have claimed that from 1948 to June 1967, Syrian military forces repeatedly used the Heights to shell Jewish settlements and installations below. These artillery bombardments, in the widely accepted Israeli and American view, justified Israel's conquest of the Heights in 1967, and its occupation ever since.

Actually, Israel's seizure and occupation of this territory is based on a historical lie. This was frankly acknowledged by Israel General and cabinet minister Moshe Dayan in an interview given in 1976, but which was not made public until April 1997. Dayan, who died in 1981, was a key organizer of Israel's victory in the June 1967 Israel-Arab war.

"I made a mistake in allowing the [Israeli] conquest of the Golan Heights," he said, "As defense minister I should have stopped it because the Syrians were not threatening us at the time." The seizure went ahead, he added, not because Israel was threatened, but in response to pressure from Jews who coveted Syrian land, and from army commanders in northern Israel. "Of course [war with Syria] was not necessary. You can say the Syrians are bastards and attack when you want. But this is not policy. You don't open aggression against an enemy because he's a bastard but because he's a threat."

"At least 80 percent" of the border clashes over nearly two decades associated with the Syrian shellings were initiated by Israel, Dayan continued. "We would send a tractor to plow some [disputed] area ... and we knew in advance that the Syrians would start to shoot. If they didn't shoot, we would tell the tractor to advance further, until in the end the Syrians would get annoyed and shoot. And then we would use artillery and later the air force also, and that's how it was."

and still is..Of course, in previous campaigns or 'incursions' into Palestinian Territory, the IDF revelaed their visceral hatred of all things Palestinian- their culture and schools.

In April 2002, the troops and tanks of the Israeli army attacked Ramallah and other towns in occupied Palestine. this was reported as an 'incursion' to stop terrorism. In fact it was also an attack on civilian life: on schools, offices, clinics, theatres, radio stations. This systematic vandalism is typical of one of the longest military occupations in modern times.

Elsewhere in the (Palestinian Culture) Ministry, Israeli soldiers had smeared their own excrement on the walls and on office equipment and vandalised an exhibition of paintings made by Palestinian children. ( photo included)

I guess these children were luckier than those killed in the Gaza school/shelter. They only had their paintings ripped apart.

And how does Israel justify its behavior in which so much blood is shed? A leading Israeli government advisor on strategy to Sharon, Arnon Soffer said:

If we want to remain alive, we will have to kill and kill and kill, (Palestinians in Gaza). All day, every day," he told the Jerusalem Post.

"If we don't kill, we will cease to exist. The only thing that concerns me is how to ensure that the boys and men who are going to have to do the killing will be able to return home to their families and be normal human beings."

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Comments (13)

Allen:

How many mortars and rockets would you permit to be lobbed into your family's property before you responded with violence?

Israel's goal is to live in peace. In order to realize that goal it withdrew three years ago from Gaza, and forced the removal of thousands of Jewish inhabitants from the area. For this effort at peace it received rocket- fire on its cities, continual attempts at terror - acts, including suicide - bombings , and hate- filled ranting of genocidal intentions from 'Hamas'.

It is now attempting by its military action to halt the process whereby 'Hamas' was putting more and more of Israel's citizens in range of its rockets and missiles.

It is sickening to read these ignorant moralizers blaming Israel for civilian casualties. Israel's policy is to do everything possible to avoid civilian casualties. Hamas on the other hand like any good terror group places its military facilities among civilian population. It even on occasion deliberately moves people into areas where it has placed military facilities.

We are talking of 'night' and 'day' in relation to human values, respect for life, and desire for peace.

I have one request of any person who may happen to read this. Please study the actual statements and actions of Israel in comparison to that of Hamas, Hizbollah, Islamic Jihad, Ahmadinejad's Tehran. And before you think to condemn Israel study a bit about how its soldiers are trained to do everything possible to avoid civilian casualties.

But to say that Israel is targeting civilian people is pure BS. Why isn't the world condemning Hamas for targeting civilian people in Israel? It's the same thing, isn't it?

Doubting Thomas:

Told you before, Steve. Any military activity out of a nominally protected building makes it a valid target. Mortar from a school full of children? It's a valid target. Bunch of Hamas thugs firing from a hospital? THEY render it a valid target.

"Explaining its attack on al-Fahora school, the Israeli military claimed that a mortar was fired from the playground."

A mortar's not very large, it's quite portable, and could easily have been concealed in the schools somewhere. Get a bunch of people in - and Israel was trying to get them to a protected place, with the UN even helping - but counterbattery fire doesn't give a damn where the launcher is. It spots the shell, targets where it came from, and fires automatically. It's designed to supress the source quickly, before it could be moved. I believe there's systems which can have shells on the way to the mortar before the attacking shells could even have a chance to land - and it sucks mightily to be close to the target when that happens. If you've got a hit and run mortar team, you have to hit them fast, because a mortar's portable.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Counter-battery_fire

As far as size goes - the old British L9A1 51 mm Light Mortar is about as small as it gets ... 13 lbs, 28 inches tall. Smuggle the tube and baseplate under a burqa, set it up, and 'boom'.

Now, I have to ask myself just who could be bloody stupid enough to fire a mortar from a protected, FULL schoolyard knowing the school itself would most likely draw counterbattery fire immediately?

Your precious Hamas, that's who. Hamas uses the Palestinian people as human shields, in direct convention of the Geneva accords. But they're not signatories, so it's okay for them to do so, right? Fire from a crowd, a school, a mosque, a hospital, and Israel shouldn't react, right?

Wrong.

Hamas could have peace, if they wanted. Have a cease fire, keep to the terms of the cease fire, negotiate for a lasting peace which includes them ceasing to try to destroy Israel. Israel would reciprocate. There would be peace in the ME.

But they don't dare. The only thing keeping them in power is the conflict with Israel. Without that - they have no reason to exist and no plans to continue on.

Syria and Iran would be pissed, too. You gotta figure the Hamas figureheads know they'd be killed shortly after any accomodation is reached...

So the fighting goes on. Lather, rinse, repeat. Hamas will fire from crowds, from marketplaces, from hospitals - anywhere there's people that'll be killed by the return fire.

And you will not blame them for doing so.

Doubting Thomas:

A bit more context...

Witnesses: Terrorists fired near school | Confronting Hamas | Jerusalem Post


The school grounds were being used by terrorists to fire mortar shells at troops stationed nearby, and the soldiers responded by firing mortars back, the army said.


According to the IDF, the dead included
members of the Hamas rocket cell, including senior operatives Imad Abu Askhar and Hassan Abu Askhar.


Defense officials told The Associated Press that booby-trapped bombs in the school had triggered secondary explosions that killed additional Palestinians there.


The army noted that Tuesday was not the first time Hamas had attacked Israel from within a school. The IDF released a video taken by an unmanned aerial vehicle in late 2007 showing terrorists firing mortars from right outside a school.


"Hamas has in the past fired at Israel and at troops from inside schools, [exploiting] civilians, as is proven by UAV footage," the army said.
Big damn heros, ain't they? Booby-trapping the school. Firing from the school. Hey, how better to maximize the deaths that Israel's trying to avoid?

Chad:

The other big rule in any Israel/Palestine conflict is to divide the number of palestinian casualties by 5, as that's the number of civilians killed, the rest are Hamas militia members, and they are NOT civilians. They were just hiding behind the women and kids. And don't cry me any rivers about ambulances or tv reporters. When Hamas loads an ambulance with armed men, it's a target, not an ambulance. Big red crosses make an easy aiming point. When reporters put a thing on their shoulder that looks like an ATGM, don't be surprised when the tank fires at them.

Allen:

Colin Powell, a decorated war hero, four-star Army general, and former Secretary of State has outlined in what has informally been recognized as "The Powell Doctrine," that when a nation is engaging in war, it should harness every resource and tool to wage decisive military action against its enemy so as to minimize casualties and achieve a quick resolution to the conflict by overpowering the the weaker force into capitulation. That's precisely what Israel is attempting to do now in Gaza. Strike quick, strike hard and eliminate the enemy threat in an effort to secure its homeland. It's terribly unfortunate that civilians are getting killed, but I suppose that's the collateral damage when a cowardly enemy uses it's citizens as human shields. Israel is striking at Hamas's base of operations. But if that stronghold is centered in densely populated civilian neighborhoods, only Hamas can be blamed for the resulting casualties.

It is not the Israelis who blow up buses full of innocent people, detonate suicide bombs at restaurants and nightclubs, kill school children or throw old people off of cruise ships.

And I do feel sorry for the innocent people in both Gaza and Israel who get hurt by this war. Both sides have made mistakes, no doubt about it.

So Steve, please tell me when the last time a terrorist from Israel used a suicide bomb in a Gaza Bus or restaurant. True peace will occur only when the Palestine's demand of their elected people to quit the violence, and start working for statehood.

Chad:

Egypt needs to take over the daily running of the gaza strip. Police and security forces should be able to neuter Hamas, and give Israel a 5 mile buffer in the strip. Anybody in the DMZ gets shot, from either side. Launch a rocket, get shot, dig a tunnel, get shot, any questions?

Lee Ward:

"Israel's policy is to do everything possible to avoid civilian casualties."

I'm sympathetic to Israel's cause, and I have in the past and will continue to support Israel in their efforts to push back against Hamas, but let's call a spade a spade... The IDF intentionally and deliberately bombed that school knowing full well that they were killing innocent civilians.

They chose a UN-supported facility as their target as a clear and deliberate message of defiance against UN efforts to intervene. The US and Israel see the UN as the enemy, and the slaughter of innocent Gaza refugees was their intent -- with the goal of breaking Hamas' support.

Of all the possible targets they could have picked they choose this one specifically. The UN has since gone on the record stating that they are 99.9% sure that no Hamas warriors were present in that encampment at the time it was bombed.

It is what it is... and it was not an accident that innocents died.

Doubting Thomas:

"The UN has since gone on the record stating that they are 99.9% sure that no Hamas warriors were present in that encampment at the time it was bombed."

Oh? How did they tell - were they looking at the uniforms? Wait, don't tell me... they didn't see any! Duh! Obviously no Hamas here!

How long do you think it takes to set up a mortar, Lee? How many people do you think it takes to fire one? As I pointed out above, it'd be pretty easy to hide one inside the school somewhere - and then pull it out when it's used as a safe area. You don't even need to stash that much - one baseplate, one mortar tube, ONE mortar round, total weight less than 20 lbs - and that safe area becomes a valid, justified, military target.

And Hamas KNOWS this. They DEPEND on it. If Israel DOESN'T fire, then they're golden, they can harrass the soldiers all day long. If the Israelis DO fire, then they've got ready-made martyrs to parade in front of the camera! And the media will be falling all over themselves to provide coverage of how mean and nasty those horrible Israeli soldiers are, beating up on the poor defenseless Palestinians! They win either way!

I know the entire concept of 'evil' is outrageously un-PC - but if Hamas's philosophy and actions aren't a contemporary example of the concept I don't know what would be.

Lee Ward:

"I know the entire concept of 'evil' is outrageously un-PC - but if Hamas's philosophy and actions aren't a contemporary example of the concept I don't know what would be."

Knowingly killing innocent civilians qualifies as 'evil' in my book - and that's appears to be exactly what the IDF did in this case. The UN was on-site and has stated that there were no Hamas warriors on site.

You can sit at your computer and declare that they were there -- but the UN is in the position to know - you aren't.

It's "PC" in some circles here in the US to defend Israel against any and all criticisms. As I've said, I side with Israel in this conflict -- but they killed innocents intentionally in this instance. Let's not be "PC" and pretend it didn't happen...

Doubting Thomas:

i'm not pretending it didn't happen - what we're arguing about is who is to blame.

The IDF identified the school as a safe zone. I'm going to go out on a limb here and believe that was a good-faith designation. With UN help, people were routed there for safety. The UN claims that no Hamas fighters were allowed.

How did they know? There's no uniform for Hamas. Get a large enough crowd, and the UN won't be able to check everyone.

The IDF said that mortars were fired from the school. Mortars aren't large devices. They're portable, you could stick them up in a false ceiling, in a box in a closet, or down in a grease pit in a kitchen. Drag it out, set it up, fire a round or two - and wait for the IDF to reply.

You're right - I wasn't there and the UN was - ALSO the IDF. The IDF says they were shelled. Now, I'm not going to disagree that this happened. What we're arguing about is who is responsible.

In the end - Israel shelled the school, and I'm not going to disagree with that.

What we're arguing about is WHY. You seem to be saying that it's because the IDF saw no problem with shelling a school full of women and children - for no military reason. Correct?

I'm saying they had a fully justifiable reason, returning fire when the mortar started firing - and that Hamas is to blame for deliberately putting the women and children in peril by firing mortars from the school.

Let's look at who benefits here.

If Hamas (or someone) had not fired the mortar - there would have been no reason at all to fire on the school. The IDF would benefit - because it would have been very visibly adhering to the rules. Hamas would lose face, because the IDF would have been treating the people in an honorable way. That would have put doubt in their minds about the evil Jews who were coming to kill them.

There would have been little or no media notice. Nobody died, there's no story.

What benefit does Hamas get from having people killed? Remember - a mortar can be small and light - I dare say I could get my 10 year old son to set a 51 or 60 mm one up and fire it. Get a couple of 12-year old boys, tell them they can help Hamas by going to the third closet on the right and dragging out what they find there, and slanting the tube towards the IDF and dropping in the round.

Remember - we're looking at a binary situation here. No mortars mean the people will be safe.

ANY mortar shelling from the school means it's an automatic target.

Hamas benefits here, because there's a chance they could kill IDF soldiers. They also benefit if civilians get killed, because it reinforces the propaganda that the IDF are mindless killers. It also gets them sympathy in the media community. And in case there ISN'T enough of a response, the building was booby-trapped. THAT makes me think Hamas saw this as a golden photo-op.

Admittedly it sounds like I'm arguing a legal case here. What we have to go on is just the reports. The UN says no fighters - I'm saying all you need are a pair of hands and the right mindset, and last I saw the hands weren't exclusive issue to Hamas.

Who benefits the most from this event?

Lee Ward:

"What we're arguing about is WHY. You seem to be saying that it's because the IDF saw no problem with shelling a school full of women and children - for no military reason. Correct?"

Correct. The IDF's aim was to kill civilians and they succeeded.

"I'm saying they had a fully justifiable reason, returning fire when the mortar started firing..."

The civilians who were killed by the IDF were not firing mortars or attacking Israel in any way.

If mortars were fired from tha location at some prior time that doesn't justify the killing of innocent civilians in retaliation.

"ANY mortar shelling from the school means it's an automatic target."

Really? So if a militant fired a rocket from the intersection of Main Street and Elm Avenue then the IDF would be justified in blowing up a school bus full of children at that intersection a day later?

It doesn't make sense -- not that any war 'makes sense' -- but the killing of innocents in this instance had a *political* purpose, not a *military* one.

"Hamas benefits here, because there's a chance they could kill IDF soldiers. They also benefit if civilians get killed, because it reinforces the propaganda that the IDF are mindless killers"

Well,, yes -- killing innocent people puts public opinion inside and outside of Gaza against the IDF. That's what makes the act of the IDF -- in this instance -- "mindless." It's stupid and unnecessary.

Who benefits the most? Good question. The killing of innocents is defined by our nation as act of terrorism. The US is supporting terrorism if we defend this action as justifiable.

Is that what the 'War on Terror' has done to us? Turned us into terrorists? Or at least caused us to defend and support terrorism? I hope not.

Steve Crickmore:

Who benefits the most from this event?

Military Intelligence is often an oxymoron. Here is the latest illustration..

'Army admits there was no firing from school'

"The Israeli army has admitted privately to the UN that no firing came from a Gaza school where 42 people died on Tuesday after being hit by Israeli mortars, officials of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (Unrwa) disclosed last night."

Does that answer your question, Doubting Thomas?

Yes, Israelis deserve security. Twenty Israelis dead in 10 years around Gaza is a grim figure indeed.

I've reported the excuses the Israeli army has served up in the past for these outrages. Since they may well be reheated in the coming hours, here are some of them: that the Palestinians killed their own refugees, that the Palestinians dug up bodies from cemeteries and planted them in the ruins, that ultimately the Palestinians are to blame because they supported an armed faction, or because armed Palestinians deliberately used the innocent refugees as cover.


Doubting Thomas:

Okay, looks like we're back on message then. Evil Jews can't do anything right, virtuous Hamas can't do anything wrong. Got it.

BTW, I wasn't saying because the school was used AT ONE TIME for a mortar attack that it justified the IDF shelling it - what I was saying if mortars were fired from it when the people were there that it would justify a response. Sorry I didn't make that sufficiently clear.

And yes, I do believe that Hamas would take every possible opportunity to curry media favor. If they've got to kill a few of their own, it's okay because they're just going to Allah early. And if they need to stage things a bit - well... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t_B1H-1opys

Have a nice day!


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Publisher: Kevin Aylward

Editors: Lee Ward, Larkin, Paul S Hooson, and Steve Crickmore

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