Obama's Blindness to Israeli Behavior on the Battlefield
An Israeli Air Force pilot flying over the Gaza Strip last week decided to abort his mission after spotting Palestinian children in the vicinity of a confirmed terror target.
In a video released by the Israeli military, the pilot is heard telling his command center: “It loks like there are people, possibly children, in our targeted area.” The response from command center: “We’re not going to strike this target now, let’s move on.”
This by no means was an isolated incident. Israel’s military goes to great lengths to minimize civilian casualties. As an Israeli squadron commander remarked: “I can say categorically, if the slightest doubt arises, then they don’t fire.”
Israel has scattered thousands of leaflets over northern Gaza Strip neighborhoods, warning residents to evacuate homes that may be targeted for airstrikes. Hamas instead advises these same Gazans to stay home so as to put them in greater danger and so they can be used as propaganda fodder to claim fictitious Israeli brutality.
“To its credit, Israel has used sophisticated technology, including targeted text messages and dummy warning missiles, to minimize civilian casualties,” the Washington Post reported editorially.
In fact, no other military in the world has gone to such lengths to avoid civilian casualties.
But despite all this evidence, the Obama White House evidently still hasn’t gotten this basic message from the Gaza battlefield.
Here’s what White House press secretary Josh Earnes, speaking for Obama, told reporters after faulting Hamas for rejecting an Egyptian-sponsored cease-fire: “But what we would ask the Israelis to do is to exhibit some concern for the safety and welfare of innocent civilians who are at risk of being caught in the crossfire.”
This is an outrageous slap at Israel. The Israeli military doesn’t need to be lectured by a U.S. presidential press secretary about taking precautions to limit civilian casualties. It’s already doing it -- and with great and painful self-control, handcuffing itself when civilians might be caught in the cross-fire.
In any military conflict, there will be civilian casualties and unfortunately, some civilians still get injured and killed. But Israel’s performance has been outstanding and greatly minimized civilian fatality counts.
Civilian interests would be better served if the White House lectured Hamas to stop using Palestinian civilians as human shields and to cease rocket barrages aimed at Israeli civilians
To suggest that Israel still hasn’t exhibited “some concern for the safety and welfare of innocent civilians” is nothing short of malicious slander of an ally.
Leo Rennert is a former White House correspondent and Washington bureau chief of McClatchy Newspapers