Soldiers, Dogs and Mosques

During the recent war launched by Hezb'allah against Israel I served as an escort officer with the IDF Military Spokesperson's Unit. In that role, Captain Doron Speilman and I on separate occasions hooked up Martin Fletcher of NBC News, and a separate BBC crew with the Deputy Commander of an armored brigade whose base was on the Lebanese border.

The Deputy Commander, Lieutenant Colonel Ishai (last name omitted) related in one of those interviews the following:

Units of his brigade made incursions into Southern Lebanon with the objective of knocking out positions and arms depots of Hezb'allah's terrorist army along their sector. In so doing they came under intense anti—tank fire. Having taken out the terrorists who fired on them they began systematically searching through the terrorist positions all of which were located in a civilian village, exposing its inhabitants in the most cynical fashion possible to Israeli return fire.

They had received intelligence that arms were being stored in the mosque of that village, and that possibly it had been booby trapped in order to kill or maim any Israeli troops trying to enter the mosque in search of weapons. Lieutenant Colonel Ishai related that normal operating procedures and common sense would dictate that he first send in bomb sniffing dogs.

It should be noted that Lieutenant Colonel Ishai's brigade is made up not only of Jews but Druze and Bedouin Muslims. All of these fighters came from villages in the Galilee which had been hit by Hezb'allah's constant barrages of katyusha rockets aimed at Israel's civilian population. For them this fight was not a political struggle, nor even a national one, it was quite literally in defense of their homes.

Lieutenant Colonel Ishai has served for many years shoulder to shoulder with Muslim troops in the army of the Jewish state. Indeed I was privileged to meet Druze commanders, who commanded almost exclusively Jewish troops. The first one of those commanders was my own company commander when I was in basic training in 1973.

The soldiers who fight for the state of Israel are not only Jews they are Christian, Druze and Moslem as well. Far from the image of a barbaric Nazi—like military, the IDF takes great pains even in war time to respect the sensitivities not only of its own troops but of the Palestinian and Lebanese civilians caught up in the cross fire brought about by the Islamist terrorists who hide behind them.

Lieutenant Colonel Ishai decided that sending bomb sniffing dogs into a Moslem mosque would be offensive to members of that religion. He thus decided that rather than do that he would send in soldiers, knowing that he was risking their lives to do so.

He gave that order and his soldiers obeyed it in full knowledge of all the implications of their actions. They would risk their lives to respect the sanctity of another's religion and the sensitivities of another people. Those were the actions of the Israeli army.

What they found in the mosque were anti—tank missiles of the kind that had just been used to try and kill them and katyusha rockets of the kind that quite literally had been aimed at their own homes and families. This is the nature of the enemy we faced. It was a terrorist army organized, trained, financed and equipped as an army whose short, medium and long range rockets rained at Israel's civilian population, while hiding behind Lebanon's civilian population.

It is a terrorist army that sought to maximize both Israeli and Lebanese civilian loss of life. The use of indiscriminate weapons against civilian populations is recognized as a war crime in every court in every nation. Hezb'allah committed four thousand of those war crimes in launching its four thousand rockets against Israel's cities and villages. That is a war crime which no one seems to be investigating, let alone prosecuting. However, one could add to that, that the firing of such weapons from within ones own civilian population is not only a war crime, not only a crime against one's own people, but a crime against humanity.
 
I would hope that the next time someone so casually refers to Israel's barbaric attacks against the Lebanese people, they remember Lieutenant Colonel Ishai and his soldiers, Druze Moslem, and Jewish alike who risked their lives rather than offend the sensitivities of the Lebanese people, those very same people whom Hezb'allah's terrorist army so readily sacrificed in their unprovoked attack against Israel. 

Dan Gordon is the writer of such films as The Hurricane, Murder in the FirstWyatt Earp, and The Assignment.  He served as a captain in the reserves in the IDF during the recent war.

During the recent war launched by Hezb'allah against Israel I served as an escort officer with the IDF Military Spokesperson's Unit. In that role, Captain Doron Speilman and I on separate occasions hooked up Martin Fletcher of NBC News, and a separate BBC crew with the Deputy Commander of an armored brigade whose base was on the Lebanese border.

The Deputy Commander, Lieutenant Colonel Ishai (last name omitted) related in one of those interviews the following:

Units of his brigade made incursions into Southern Lebanon with the objective of knocking out positions and arms depots of Hezb'allah's terrorist army along their sector. In so doing they came under intense anti—tank fire. Having taken out the terrorists who fired on them they began systematically searching through the terrorist positions all of which were located in a civilian village, exposing its inhabitants in the most cynical fashion possible to Israeli return fire.

They had received intelligence that arms were being stored in the mosque of that village, and that possibly it had been booby trapped in order to kill or maim any Israeli troops trying to enter the mosque in search of weapons. Lieutenant Colonel Ishai related that normal operating procedures and common sense would dictate that he first send in bomb sniffing dogs.

It should be noted that Lieutenant Colonel Ishai's brigade is made up not only of Jews but Druze and Bedouin Muslims. All of these fighters came from villages in the Galilee which had been hit by Hezb'allah's constant barrages of katyusha rockets aimed at Israel's civilian population. For them this fight was not a political struggle, nor even a national one, it was quite literally in defense of their homes.

Lieutenant Colonel Ishai has served for many years shoulder to shoulder with Muslim troops in the army of the Jewish state. Indeed I was privileged to meet Druze commanders, who commanded almost exclusively Jewish troops. The first one of those commanders was my own company commander when I was in basic training in 1973.

The soldiers who fight for the state of Israel are not only Jews they are Christian, Druze and Moslem as well. Far from the image of a barbaric Nazi—like military, the IDF takes great pains even in war time to respect the sensitivities not only of its own troops but of the Palestinian and Lebanese civilians caught up in the cross fire brought about by the Islamist terrorists who hide behind them.

Lieutenant Colonel Ishai decided that sending bomb sniffing dogs into a Moslem mosque would be offensive to members of that religion. He thus decided that rather than do that he would send in soldiers, knowing that he was risking their lives to do so.

He gave that order and his soldiers obeyed it in full knowledge of all the implications of their actions. They would risk their lives to respect the sanctity of another's religion and the sensitivities of another people. Those were the actions of the Israeli army.

What they found in the mosque were anti—tank missiles of the kind that had just been used to try and kill them and katyusha rockets of the kind that quite literally had been aimed at their own homes and families. This is the nature of the enemy we faced. It was a terrorist army organized, trained, financed and equipped as an army whose short, medium and long range rockets rained at Israel's civilian population, while hiding behind Lebanon's civilian population.

It is a terrorist army that sought to maximize both Israeli and Lebanese civilian loss of life. The use of indiscriminate weapons against civilian populations is recognized as a war crime in every court in every nation. Hezb'allah committed four thousand of those war crimes in launching its four thousand rockets against Israel's cities and villages. That is a war crime which no one seems to be investigating, let alone prosecuting. However, one could add to that, that the firing of such weapons from within ones own civilian population is not only a war crime, not only a crime against one's own people, but a crime against humanity.
 
I would hope that the next time someone so casually refers to Israel's barbaric attacks against the Lebanese people, they remember Lieutenant Colonel Ishai and his soldiers, Druze Moslem, and Jewish alike who risked their lives rather than offend the sensitivities of the Lebanese people, those very same people whom Hezb'allah's terrorist army so readily sacrificed in their unprovoked attack against Israel. 

Dan Gordon is the writer of such films as The Hurricane, Murder in the FirstWyatt Earp, and The Assignment.  He served as a captain in the reserves in the IDF during the recent war.