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Thursday, January 8, 2009

Gaza Family Martyr Business

For when you see those Palestinian "civilian" casualty numbers: A very depressing read. (via Jonah Goldberg at NRO)


Glenn said...

It is difficult to define the term "civilian" in the Middle East, let alone to apply it empirically in any sensible way. On the one hand, most Israelis, outside of the ultra-religious groups, are reservists. Many of the ones in uniform are "civilians" most of the time, while many of the ones in mufti are members of the IDF at least part of the time.

Meanwhile, over in Gaza, you have the remnants of the forces of Palestine Authority (PA), and some 3,000 Hamas "fighters. Most of these men have no uniforms, wear no insignia, and belong to nothing like a coherent military unit. Moreover, many of the people carrying out attacks are dressed in civilian clothes, as do many who have rank in various Islamist militias.

Maybe this is an artificial distinction. If you push it very far, the U.S. and British bombing of Italy and Germany, and the U.S. bombing of Japan, during World War II were war crimes. We really didn't care very much about hitting military targets, and we quickly came to define a military target as something our bombers might actually be able to hit.

You might read James Carroll's House of War on that subject, but be warned: Carroll will raise your blood pressure.

My problem with the Israeli attack on Gaza is two-fold. First, as far as I can tell, the Israelis made no serious attempt to identify combatants before they started blowing things up. Second, I fail to see any possible relationship between the Israeli actions and the cessation of rocket attacks. This was an indiscriminate tantrum which killed 1,300 Arabs and 13 Israelis.

That's not war. That's murder.

Glenn said...

By the way, there's a book review over on Knight's Castle that you might like to read. It's a review of George Weigel's Faith, Reason, and the War Against Jihadism.