Israel & Palestinian Civilians

July 2002

[This rant is from 2002, before Arafat got out of the way, Israel retreated from Gaza, and Hamas won Palestinian elections. It's still basically sound.]

This is "the Hag's" comment on Israel, quoting my entry in "In the News."

"Israel distinguishes between civilians and combatants in order to target combatants. —JoT"

Who bears the brunt of Israeli occupation? Civilians. Israel is targeting civilians. Maybe they hope to stop bombs. Maybe it's genocide. Maybe it's unclear and both.

—"The Hag"

JoT's Response:

There's a lot that's wrong with Israel and its policy toward the Palestinians. My reluctant backing of Israel shouldn't be taken as blanket support for its actions. The settlements are heinous, and the idea that YHWH gave them the land is pernicious. But this rant is specifically about the question of whether Israel is targeting civilians, the deciding factor in my finally taking Israel's side in the conflict. (The assertion that Israel might be committing genocide is clearly hyperbole, so I won't bother to address it.)

You say: "Who bears the brunt of Israeli occupation? Civilians. Israel is targeting civilians."

This is a non sequitur. Just because the occupation falls primarily on civilians doesn't mean that Israel "targets" them.

Consider this thought experiment. If every Israeli checkpoint had two lines, one that civilians went through and one that combatants went through, would the Israelis really hassle the civilians and wave the combatants through? No, because they're not targeting civilians.

Or what if, when the Israeli army invaded a refugee camp, the houses with combatants in them were clearly and accurately marked as such? Would the army even bother checking out the houses that they knew only included noncombatants? No, because they're not targeting civilians.

The Palestinian combatants pose as noncombatants in order to hide from the Israeli forces, and that's why there aren't two lines at checkpoints and why Israelis can't tell a Palestinians combatant's house from a noncombatant's. Palestinian civilians get leaned on to the extent that the Israelis can't tell them from the combatants.

Even so, when the Israelis went in to the Jenin refugee camp (in what the pro-Palestinian crowd falsely called a massacre of 500 people), they first conducted risky house-to-house searches in order not to put Palestinian civilians at needless risk. This was a case of the Israeli military accepting extra risk for the sake of Palestinians. Only when the body count from booby traps and gunfire added up did the Israelis give up the searches by infantry and bring in the bulldozers.

Israeli combatants, however, are easy to distinguish from civilians, and Palestinian suicide bombers generally target the civilians, even though they could target the soldiers if they wanted to.You might oppose Israel for other reasons, but it's nonsense to imagine that the Israelis target civilians as the Palestinian militants do.

What the Palestinians need is a nonviolent campaign of resistance.

July 2002, July 2005


the Hag
          the Hag


Palestinian Suicide Bombings: futility and tragedy


Israel in the News

November 2006: Human Shields in Gaza
Palestinian civilians have begun using themselves as human shields to protect militants from Israeli bombing. Can you imagine human shields deterring Palestinians from attacking Israelis? That will be the day.

May 2006

Extremists as Corruption Foes
Hard-line Hamas won the January election, but as foes of corruption, not as enemies of Israel. If they didn't run as Jew-haters, it must be because they knew that they wouldn't win on the Jew-hatred platform. Same thing happened in
Iran. If Hamas itself now proves corrupt, it will lose its popular support.