"Battle Ethics"

The word from the fighting during the Warm Winter Operation is this:

There were two Givati battalions involved along with the Sa'ar armored battalion and some special forces. There is high praise from the officers for the extraordinary bravery and commitment of the troops who fought; morale was said to be high. I always say that the fact that we have troops of this caliber is our secret weapon and what keeps us strong.

It is also being reported that lessons learned from Lebanon were implemented.

On the other side, it was reported that Hamas fought fiercely and was well equipped but was less well organized than had been expected. In some instance, report the officers, Palestinians were killed by what is euphemistically referred to as "friendly fire." Palestinian gunmen, aiming badly, hit their own.

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The whole issue of what is moral with regard to civilian causalities is taken most seriously by our fighting forces. The balance is often such a fine one. Clearly, sometimes their civilians, inadvertently will be killed in our efforts to protect our own. And sometimes we take additional risks, in order to protect their civilians. The bitter irony is that while we, perhaps more than any other nation on earth, work to protect innocent life, even if it is the life of someone (especially a child) from the enemy side, we are accused of war crimes and all the rest.

The brief fighting in northern Gaza in the last days provided instances of what we are up against. And, I confess, as much as I know about these things, I am still shocked at the callousness of these Arabs. They say, even in PA textbooks, "our enemy loves life, but we love death." And boy, is it true.

The IDF acted, very properly, to safeguard our own, by giving permission to open fire when a source of fire against our soldiers was clearly identified as coming from a home, without determining whether civilians were also present.

But look at some of the other situations they faced:

In one instance, a boy of about ten was sent by the enemy to retrieve the gun of someone who had been killed. The IDF commander on the scene ordered that fire be halted. Our soldiers watched the boy get the gun and bring it back to the others; they would not kill him.

It was Tzipi Livni in a recent press conference who brought attention to the fact that Hamas sends small children up on to the roof of a building that they know Israel is planning to attack. They count on our essential humanity, and it works. We won't bomb a building that has small children sitting on its roof. The truly obscene part is that Hamas wouldn't care if we did bomb those children -- they'd simply use this in a huge PR campaign.

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Speaking of obscene: The UN Human Rights Council, which is one of the more anti-Israel organizations (right in line with the UN itself) held a moment of silence yesterday for the "martyrs in Gaza" killed by the IDF. This was in response to a request by the Iranian foreign minister. An Israeli spokesperson considered it a good sign that the members of the council were asked to rise for the moment of silence and yet everyone stayed seated. Not good enough for me. No one walked out or voiced indignation, either.

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On the other hand, there is this story: A Palestinian woman delivered twins in Barzeli hospital in Ashkelon recently. As they were premature, they were admitted to the neonatal intensive care unit. When a Grad-Katyusha was shot near the hospital last week (traumatizing the staff), these babies were among the ones brought into the hospital bomb shelter.

Yes, we love life.