On his eponymous BBC TV show this morning, I listened open-mouthed as Andrew Marr invited Tory foreign affairs spokesman William Hague to express his views about the
pretty appalling looking reports coming out of Israel where members of the Israeli Defence Force who were involved in the Gaza operation have talked about effectively being told to shoot at civilians.
Well those are absolutely appalling stories. There is no question about that. We don't yet know the truth of them. I think it's very important to say that. This is evidence that now has to be looked at, of course, by Israel's military investigations unit; and it is a good thing that Israel does have provision for that, for investigating these things and for bringing to book any who were responsible for behaving in such a way. But we will expect… I think across the world, we will expect Israel to deal decisively with anybody who committed such crimes. It will be very important for Israel to do that if it is to keep any moral authority in these situations in the future. So we're all appalled by that and we hope that it will be dealt with.
Of course Hague was careful to say the truth of this evidence was not yet known. But there is no evidence. So far, there is simply nothing to prove or disprove from these reports of the soldiers’ discussion carried in Ha’aretz last week, here and here -- just innuendo, rumour and hearsay, demonstrably (read the second account) wrenched out of context and refracted through the patent prejudice of the soldiers’ instructor Danny Zamir, an ultra-leftist who had previously been jailed for refusing to guard settlers at a religious ceremony and who said of the soldiers who spoke at the meeting in question that they reflected an atmosphere inside the army of ‘contempt for, and forcefulness against, the Palestinians.’
So what are these
pretty appalling looking reports
absolutely appalling stories?
There are precisely two charges of gratuitous killing of Palestinian civilians under allegedly explicit orders to do so. One is what even Ha’aretz made clear was an accidental killing, when two women misunderstood the evacuation route the Israeli soldiers had given them and walked into a sniper’s gunsights as a result. Moreover, the soldier who said this has subsequently admitted he didn’t see this incident – he wasn’t even in Gaza at the time – and had merely reported rumour and hearsay.
The second charge is based on a supposedly real incident in which, when an elderly woman came close to an IDF unit, an officer ordered that they shoot her because she was approaching the line and might have been a suicide bomber. The soldier relating this story did not say whether or not the woman in this story actually was shot. Indeed, since he says ‘from the description of what happened’ it would appear this was merely hearsay once again. And his interpretation was disputed by another soldier who said:
She wasn't supposed to be there, because there were announcements and there were bombings. Logic says she shouldn't be there. The way you describe it, as murder in cold blood, that isn't right.
So two non-atrocity atrocities, then. What else?
Soldiers mouthing off -- in conversations of near-impenetrable incoherence – that instructions to kill everyone who remained in buildings designated as terrorist targets after the IDF had warned everyone inside to get out amounted to instructions to murder in cold blood. There cannot be an army in the world which would not issue precisely such instructions in such circumstances, where Hamas had boasted it had booby-trapped the entire area.
Posted by John Ray. For a daily critique of Leftist activities, see DISSECTING LEFTISM. For a daily survey of Australian politics, see AUSTRALIAN POLITICS Also, don't forget your daily roundup of pro-environment but anti-Greenie news and commentary at GREENIE WATCH . Email me (John Ray) here
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