Cal Tzedek: Compulsory Criticism

Monday, September 27, 2004

Compulsory Criticism

Four officers of the "Shaldag" Air Force unit, who "have conducted numerous operations, including ambushes, arrests and even assassinations" in the Occupied Territories, have released a letter highly critical of IDF actions in the territories, particularly in Gaza.

That active duty soldiers are launching criticism of their own actions is a relatively new trend. Such public denunciations --and campaigns of conscientious objection-- have traditionally been dominated by reservists. This has generally allowed the government to dismiss such actions as politically motivated publicity stunts.

According to the Haaretz report, "The fighting in Gaza is currently very different from that in the West Bank: Lacking the precise intelligence information available in the West Bank and confronted with a growing terrorist threat, the IDF has escalated its operations to the point of collective punishment [emphasis added]. In the West Bank, house demolitions are "pinpoint" operations, used to punish the families of suicide bombers. In Gaza, dozens of houses can be destroyed at a time, in an effort to move the front lines away from the settlements and IDF positions."

The gentlemen were "particularly disturbed by what they saw in Rafah during Operation Rainbow in May." That campaign was similar to what has just occurred in Khan Yunis. Even if the houses in both cases were destroyed for security, it is important to ask, for the security of whom? As the (mostly reservist) refuseniks have said, Israel is fighting a "War of the Settlements." True, seizing land and building exclusive colonies might not be nearly as bad as murderous suicide attacks, as the Law of Hasbara Equivalency goes. But given the cost of maintaining these settlements, given the resulting criminalization of being a Palestinian in one's own home, it is amazing that fighting to preserve these settlements can be seen as anything other than criminal.

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