The ceasefire announced by Hamas on January 18, never a sterling example of the genre, further deteriorated on Sunday as over 15 rockets and mortar shells were fired at Israel from Gaza. That night, when Israeli planes struck back at Hamas targets, many Palestinians reported that Israel had telephoned them warnings to evacuate. There were no casualties in the strike.
During Operation Cast Lead, Israel reduced Palestinian casualties with such measures as disseminating warnings in leaflets or SMS messages and dropping small, harmless bombs on rooftops before attacks. It prompted former British colonel Richard Kemp to say that "I don’t think there has ever been a time in the history of warfare when any army has made more efforts to reduce civilian casualties and deaths of innocent people than the IDF is doing today in Gaza."
Nevertheless, it was reported on Monday that a prosecutor at the International Criminal Court in The Hague had announced plans to investigate claims by Palestinian groups that Israel had committed war crimes in Gaza by using phosphorus shells in populated areas. In 2004 the ICC condemned Israel for building its security fence—believed by some security officials to have saved hundreds of lives—after waves of terror from the West Bank.
And the news about the ICC came hard on the heels of Thursday’s announcement that a Spanish court, after granting a petition by the Palestinian Center for Human Rights, was planning to try seven Israeli security officials for "crimes against humanity" in the 2002 assassination of Hamas kingpin Salah Shehadeh. Fourteen civilians were also killed in the strike. Shehadeh had masterminded the killings of hundreds of Israelis and was preparing a mega-attack at the time. The seven Israeli officials include a former defense minister and two former chiefs of staff.
Israel, then, is between a rock and a hard place. From its complete disengagement from Gaza in August 2005 till Operation Cast Lead was launched in late December 2008, 6500 rockets and mortars were fired from Gaza at predominantly civilian Israeli targets with only small, tactical Israeli responses. Yet the world went along its way. There were no Security Council sessions, ICC investigations, or threats by European countries to put Hamas leaders on trial. The suffering of Sderot residents never became a chic cause on campuses where "the Palestinians" continued to be lionized.
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
David Hornik in FrontPage Magazine February 4th: