Are Causalities of War Acceptable to Israel?
I felt I needed to respond to the many accusations that Israel does not do enough to mitigate the loss of lives during it’s conflicts. Let me start with a quote from Col. Richard Kemp, British commander of NATO forces in Afghanistan testifying before the United Nations,
Mr. President, based on my knowledge and experience, I can say this: During Operation Cast Lead, the Israeli Defence Forces did more to safeguard the rights of civilians in a combat zone than any other army in the history of warfare. Israel did so while facing an enemy that deliberately positioned its military capability behind the human shield of the civilian population… The truth is that the IDF took extraordinary measures to give Gaza civilians notice of targeted areas, dropping over 2 million leaflets, and making over 100,000 phone calls. Many missions that could have taken out Hamas military capability were aborted to prevent civilian casualties. During the conflict, the IDF allowed huge amounts of humanitarian aid into Gaza. To deliver aid virtually into your enemy’s hands is, to the military tactician, normally quite unthinkable. But the IDF took on those risks.
Despite all of this, of course innocent civilians were killed. War is chaos and full of mistakes. There have been mistakes by the British, American and other forces in Afghanistan and in Iraq, many of which can be put down to human error. But mistakes are not war crimes…
More than anything, the civilian casualties were a consequence of Hamas way of fighting. Hamas deliberately tried to sacrifice their own civilians.
I couldn’t have said it better myself. Let me restate, There has never been an army in the entire history of warfare which has done more to safeguard the rights of civilians on the battleground. Having served as a commander in the IDF and am intimately familiar with it’s exhaustive training regarding civilian causalities. I’ve numerous times witnessed the aborting of a mission because of the concern for innocent bystanders.
This concept can be scientifically proven by understand the basic concept of “civilian casualty ratio”, that is in every conflict you need to look at the number of civilian causalities versus the number of combatant causalities. This ratio obviously differs from conflict to conflict, but the average in modern day warfare is between 3-4:1. Estimated ratios in NATO operations in Afghanistan were 3:1, western campaigns in Iraq and Kosovo were believed to be 4:1, and the conflicts in Chechnya and Serbia were much higher than 4:1. That is to say that for each combatant that is killed 3-4 or more civilians are killed.
Now let us look at the ratio of the IDF. The estimated civilian casualty ratio is…less than 1:1! In plain English that means that for each combatant that is killed on the battleground by Israelis, less than one civilian is killed. Now compare that to the “normal” ratios and it becomes crystal clear that Israel is taking extreme measures to minimize civilian casualties.
But of course, you don’t have to take my word for it. Head over to the IDF’s own YouTube Channel – http://www.youtube.com/user/idfnadesk and you will find unnecessary civilian casualties. Now don’t misunderstand. This does not come without a price for Israel. Israel often has to put its own troops at risk in order to save the lives of those that hang around the missile launchers and terrorists. It would be much easier and less painful for Israel to carpet bomb these areas, as was done in numerous conflicts by the United States and their allies. Just to refresh your memory, look at the bombing of civilian populations in Berlin, Tokyo and Dresden. And of course the elephant in the room was the use of the Atomic Bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. These were extreme cases of the United States and their allies permitting mass civilian casualties in order to win a battle. Yes, war is ugly. But sometimes in the course of armed conflict it becomes necessary to take extreme measures. Of course, the US could have invaded Japan with ground troops, but would that have been the moral decision?
One more point that I would be remiss in not including. The amount that Israel has been willing to give up in order to facilitate a hostage release is absolutely mind boggling. The thousands of terrorists that have been traded in the past for even the remains of an IDF soldier, in my opinion, defies logic. And whether you agree with it or not, this just goes to show how dear each and everyone of our soldiers is to the Jewish Nation. That having been said, if Israel is willing to risk the lives of these very soldiers in order to prevent casualties on the other side, they must have a pretty strong policy when it comes to civilian casualties.
There is of course a lot more that can be said on the subject. But one thing is abundantly clear, Israel goes head over heals to protect civilian casualties even to the detriment of it’s own troops. It saddens me what people out there make up stories about how evil and uncompassionate the IDF is, when this could not be any further from the truth!