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Escalation in south: IDF takes summer Gaza spin out for 2nd round

The new round of violence in Gaza began with the assassination of a Popular Resistance Committees official – and the IDF trotted out an old lie to defend it.

As these lines are being written, we are in the third day of yet another round of violence in Gaza, in which at least 17 Gazans have been killed and more than 100 rockets fired into southern Israel. It began – not that you’d know it from the Israeli media – when the IDF assassinated from the air Zuheir Al-Queisi, secretary general of the Popular Resistance Committees. The strike also killed Mahmoud Hanani, described by the IDF as Al-Queisi’s ”collaborator.” The IDF Spokesman’s communique said sanctimoniously (Hebrew) that “the IDF is not interested in an escalation, but is ready and willing to defend the citizens of the State of Israel and respond with force and determination against any attempt to carry out terrorist activity.” It’s good to hear the IDF dislikes the escalation, since if we were to judge it by its actions, we might reach the opposite conclusion.

There is a serious problem with this communique: it attributes to Al-Queisi responsibility for the terrorist attack near Eilat in August. But, as was written on this blog several times, the attackers did not come from Gaza, but rather from Sinai. This did not stop the IDF from killing six members of the PRC leadership several hours after the attack, nor did it prevent Prime Minister Netanyahu from announcing that “those responsible for the attack have already been punished.” Two months after the attack, someone in the security establishment leaked to Alex Fishman of Yedioth Ahronoth enough information for Fishman to write the truth: the attack did not come from Gaza but rather from Sinai. The PRC had nothing to do with it. Asked to comment, the IDF Spokesman declined. It basically managed to tell us a bald lie, and then walk backwards from it by feeding the information to a trusted reporter. A few weeks later, the Egyptian army arrested a resident of Sinai, charging him with planning the Eilat attack (Hebrew).

None of this prevents the IDF from trotting out the old lie about the PRC’s responsibility for the attack. It can rely on the short memory of the public, which won’t remember the series of lies from last time. (The PRC did it – actually, we’re not sure – the attackers came from Gaza, they had AK-47s – the culprits are dead – oops, they came from Sinai but we won’t say so for the record.) The military reporter now parroting the new party line about Al-Queisi seem the most oblivious of all, and certainly won’t contradict the IDF. Given the IDF’s history of economy with the truth on this issue, one wonders whether the other claim by the IDF about Al-Queisi – that he was planning another attack in the same region – is just as credible. Ehud Barak did undermine it somewhat yesterday (Hebrew), saying the intel on this new attack was hazy. With this kind of record, why should we believe the IDF Spokesman?

Someone is liable to turn to conspiracy theories about the reason for the IDF attack on Gaza. None are needed: this is just how the IDF is conditioned to act. If it has a chance to kill someone who annoyed it – and Al-Queisi claimed to be involved in the capture of Gilad Schalit – it shall do so, and damn the consequences. The safety of the civilians who pay dearly for it is hardly ever a factor in the IDF’s planning.

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  • COMMENTS

    1. annie

      yossi, neither of your embedded links work for me in “But, as was written on this blog several times, “

      Reply to Comment
    2. annie

      hmm, the other embeds are not working either. they all lead to 972 “Not Found”

      Reply to Comment
    3. aristeides

      I’ll give you a conspiracy theory, Yossi. I think there’s a strong case that the entire thing was meant as a test of the anti-rocket system, in antipication of a war with Iran.

      Reply to Comment
    4. NoaY

      Thanks, Annie. Should be fixed now.

      Reply to Comment
    5. annie

      excellent, appreciated.

      Reply to Comment
    6. Robert Werdine

      “this is just how the IDF is conditioned to act. If it has a chance to kill someone who annoyed it – and Al-Queisi claimed to be involved in the capture of Gilad Schalit – it shall do so, and damn the consequences. The safety of the civilians who pay dearly for it is hardly ever a factor in the IDF’s planning.”

      Right. Both Gaza and South Lebanon have been converted into defacto military fortresses by paramilitary terrorist groups wedded to lunatic ideologies of violent jihad and martyrdom. When not oppressing and torturing their subjects, the bulk of their resources and activities are almost solely dedicated to the next round of martyr-making with Israel. They are merchants of death, and nothing but. They worship it, preach it, practice it, and industriously instill it into their youth as if nothing else in the world mattered. All for Jihad. Jihad, Jihad, Jihad. For this, they will happily convert the whole of their dominions into rubble-strewn scrap-heaps of smoke and flame again and again.

      Reply to Comment
    7. I have been reliably informed that:

      PRC never claimed credit for it, Ansar al-Jihad in Sinai (AQ affiliate) did.

      IDF claims that there was joint coop between the groups.

      So, who is lying?

      Reply to Comment
    8. ish yehudi

      Yossi- is there something about the PRC you feel a need to defend?
      okay the spin the IDF puts on it (as on everything) was pedantic.. i don’t know if they’re trying to protect their sources- but what all the papers reported was over al-Queisi’s involvement in an impending attack. Judging by the PRCs’ official declaration (though finding a copy of it not in quotations on line in English was hard- so open to corrections) it is not so far-fetched that they might be planning something.
      ‘The official declarations of the Popular Resistance Committees refer to Jews as “the sons of monkeys and pigs” and to Israel as “a Satanic entity that must be destroyed.”ref Samhadana advocated opening the borders of the Arab states to a jihad against Israel until its total destruction.ref’
      anyhoo- these kinds of posts dont normally lead anywhere— but attacking the IDF’s logic is probably a little old hat for you too…:)

      Reply to Comment
    9. aristeides

      Ish – do you suppose the IDF is employing psychics now, or telepaths, to know what members of the PRC are planning? Recall that this same intelligence was behind the last murderous attack on Gaza, and it was totally false. How many people are going to die because the IDF claims to read someone’s mind?

      Reply to Comment
    10. ish yehudi

      Aristeides–
      what do you think collaborators are killed for? sending flowers to their Israeli girlfriends? i seem to remember this report from Human Rights Watch
      http://www.hrw.org/news/2009/04/20/gaza-hamas-should-end-killings-torture
      The IDF has there snoops out there and thats how they had their choice targets to go after in the last round–that must be their strategy- each time theres a serious rocket exchange, they go after whatever they have to go on.
      Please G-d may there just be a safe night for all the children tonight…

      Reply to Comment
    11. AIG

      If the people of the south think Bibi’s policies are stupid, he will pay at the polls. So, let’s wait and see. Somehow, I think they will be even more right leaning.

      And let’s be clear about what Barak said. He said that what the exact nature of the attack was unknown, but it was known that there will be an attack. If you require complete intelligence for any action, you will never do anything.

      And what about the fact that the first attack was completely without collateral damage? If that is the case, why is Islamic Jihad retaliating against Israeli civilians and not against the IDF?

      It is interesting that you choose to ignore completely the success of the “iron dome” system.

      Reply to Comment
    12. aristeides

      Ish – the point is that the HUMINT gathered from collaborators and victims of extortion and torture, which most of them are, is unreliable. Is well known to be unreliable. And evidence that isn’t subjected to fact-checking, secret evidence, is even moreso. The IDF can say whatever it wants about the reasons it conducts these operations, and no one can examine the evidence to see if it’s reasonable.

      .
      In fact, no one can ever know if there really is any evidence, or if the IDF just made it up to cover their operational asses. Credulous dupes will believe whatever they say, go to some website and post, GOOD FOR THE IDF, EXTERMINATE ALL THE TERRORISTS, INVADE GAZA, KILL! KILL! KILL!

      Reply to Comment
    13. AIG

      ARISTEIDES,

      You are just wrong. Much of the humint from collaborators is very good. Some do it for money and know they won’t get paid unless they consistently bring good info. Others are strongly motivated by revenge. In Gaza they are usually Fatah members still angry at the way they were treated by the islamists. The people that are recruited by coercion are less reliable but since Israel uses several against any intelligence target, it can assess the quality of the info by comparing what different people say.

      Reply to Comment
    14. Steve

      Good job by the IDF protecting Israel.

      Reply to Comment
    15. aristeides

      AIG – revenge and greed are both unreliable motivators, as well as coercion. Fact is, you can’t evaluate the IDF’s intelligence because it’s all withheld. You have no basis to call it “very good” because in most cases there is no confirmation of its accuracy. How will we ever know whether the latest victims were actually “planning” some attack, now that they have no means of defending themselves or refuting the IDF’s “evidence”? But you can bet the IDF will chalk it up in the win column and congratulate themselves, and the Steves of the world will keep cheering the slaughter.

      .
      But we do know that the last time the IDF engaged in the murder of Gazans based on its intelligence, it turned out to be dead wrong. Except that only the Gazans were dead.

      Reply to Comment
    16. Piotr Berman

      “Much of the humint from collaborators is very good. Some do it for money and know they won’t get paid unless they consistently bring good info.”

      Of course they bring good info. If someone is killed, the its classification is upgraded from “terrorist” (that covers inhabitants of Gaza starting at the age of 3 or so) to at least “mastermind” or a “leader”. So no better proof that humint is good that IDF can kill people on its bases.

      Of course, it is not like IDF is always right. Sometimes we can criticise it constructively, for killing too few people. Right now we can cautiously say “Kol hakavod”. It is really nice that a video was released, I bet it will provide good entertainment.

      Reply to Comment
    17. aristeides

      Take a look at the news reports. They’re all about the Iron Dome. How well it did, how well it didn’t. Spinning, spinning. Trying to convince the public that they won’t be inconvenienced if Israel makes war on Iran.

      Reply to Comment
    18. AIG

      ARISTEIDES,

      You remind me of the rural yokel who visits the zoo in the large city for the first time, looks at the giraffe for 30 minutes then storms away mumbling: There is no such animal

      Israel has stopped many terror attacks and caught many perpetrators using humint, but have it your way.

      Reply to Comment
    19. Ashly

      As i getting rockets here in Ashkelon, i find it funny that people like you writing so much crap in one page. Good luck with your conspiracy theories and i hope you enjoy your coffee in Tel Aviv…

      Reply to Comment
    20. Ashley, let me invite you over for coffee next time a bus blows up around here. I am sick and tired of this “disengaged Tel Avivian” crap. Tel Aviv took many hits over the last decades, certainly lost more people than were lost to Kassam rockets. This did not change my opinions. Get a life.

      Reply to Comment
    21. daniel

      Don’t count lives lost, Yossi. The busses exploding in Tel Aviv are no match for having sirens every five minutes. Likewise, you failed to mention the dosens of rockets that landed in the southduring Feb-March BEFORE the “holly” (holey?) Keissi was sent to receive his quota of 70 virgins in the sky. So, yes, yossi, you do seem disengaged. Please go to where you’ve sent Ashly, and get a life.

      Reply to Comment
    22. Joe

      You can’t use bad methods to get honorable results. You can’t bomb people back to their senses, even if you are in the right.

      Reply to Comment
    23. daniel

      Joe, I assume you are talking about Hammas and Islamic Jihad.

      Reply to Comment
    24. Joe

      Daniel, I’m referring to everyone using violence.

      Reply to Comment
    25. aristeides

      AIG – Israel CLAIMS to have stopped many terror attacks, but who judges these claims? Who sees the evidence? The IDF is known to lie at every opportunity, and on the occasion that evidence is discovered, it often proves they were lying. But for some reason, when they claim to have stopped terror attacks that someone was planning in their heads, you believe them. That’s too credulous by half.

      .
      What we know for a fact is, many people are dead and many in prison based on this dubious HUMINT that no one ever sees.

      Reply to Comment
    26. aristeides

      Ashley – cry me a river. Why don’t you go take shelter in Gaza where you’ll be safe and sound.

      Reply to Comment
    27. GR

      Aristeides,

      You realize you sound just as heartless as whoever it is you’re criticizing by telling people living under dozens of rockets a day to ‘cry you a river’.

      Doesn’t really help your case now does it?

      Reply to Comment
    28. Piotr Berman

      “The IDF is known to lie at every opportunity…”

      and if there are no opportunities, they will create an occasion.

      As far as victims of Iron Dome alarms, I see so much rejoicing that “Keissi was sent to receive his quota of 70 virgins” that they probably find it worth it.

      By the way, how is the trial of Dirar Abu-Sisi, the alleged super-master mind of all that rocketry? Does there exist evidence that is too bogus even for Israeli military court?

      Reply to Comment
    29. aristeides

      SH – yep.

      .
      GR – sorry, but I have no sympathy for people whining about having to cower in a shelter when other people are being blown to bits, having no shelter to go to. If Israelis don’t want to live under rocket fire, they should elect a government that will make peace with Gaza.

      .
      Israelis have this entitlement problem. They think they’re entitled to impunity. They think they can bomb other nations and kill limitless numbers of people without suffering any casualties of their own, or even any inconvenience.

      .
      If Israelis suffered casualties in the same numbers as they inflicted on others, maybe there’d be a little less “Go IDF!” in the comments sections.

      Reply to Comment
    30. GR

      Aristedies – I think a crucial difference is Israeli does not intentionally target non-combatants while the PRC and Hamas do. I’m not excusing collateral damage, but there is a fundamental moral difference in the way the IDF and the Palestinian militias go about fighting each other.

      If it weren’t for Israel’s policy of closing schools in besieged areas you might see triple the Israeli civilian casualties than civilian Palestinians.

      What you see as entitlement Israelis see as self-defense. That argument will get us nowhere, but can you not see why when Israelis are rocketed they want to strike back (ironically with less impunity than Hamas) against those across their boarder?

      Reply to Comment
    31. aristeides

      GR – that’s a very, very shopworn excuse. The fact is that Israel kills a large multiple of Gazan civilians for every rare death of an Israeli civilian. I can’t care who’s aiming at whom, I just care about who dies. And who dies is disproportionately Palestinians.

      .
      The fundamental difference stems from the relative military capacities of the two sides. It’s not moral, it’s logistical. “Can you not see why when Gazans are bombed they want to strike back against those across their border?” Turn the language around and the exceptionalism is clear. Israelis seem to expect the Gazans to sit and do nothing, why can’t they see this as an option for themselves? Why can’t they see the Gazans as practicing self-defense? The reason is entitlement so hardwired that most Israelis can’t even recognize it.

      Reply to Comment
    32. GR

      Aristedies -

      Firstly, just because a justification is used often doesn’t mean it’s false.

      Secondly, the reason Israelis do not see Gazans as practicing self-defense is because Hamas and the PRC aim at BOTH military and civilian targets. Israel does not. There have been aberrations and Israel has done some terrible things to innocent civilians but as a matter of policy Israel targets combatants, not civilians. The first sixteen killed in Israel’s barrage were known as PRC or Hamas militants.

      As a commenter on this post said earlier, the abduction of Gilad Shalit was a regrettable incident for Israelis but it was expected. Israel and Hamas are at war. These things happen. There IS a recognition of Gazan self-defense when that self-defense concerns itself with the IDF and not innocent civilians. Sure Israelis don’t empathize with Hamas when they target military units, but they ‘get’ it. What they don’t get, and what separates Hamas from Israel in any thinking person’s moral universe is who they aim at.

      Do you see the distinction I’m trying to make here? It’s completely predicated on the moral question. How can you not care about who points the rockets at who?

      Reply to Comment
    33. GR

      Aristedies –

      One other thing. You say “I just care about who dies. And who dies is disproportionately Palestinians.”

      So are you suggesting that if Israeli government had not told their schoolchildren to skip school these past two days, and scores had been murdered you would reconsider your position? Is the numerical score of who has more killed really your deciding factor? If Israeli prevention policies were slapshod and there was no Irondome and the number of dead Israelis piled up, would you then reconsider? Is the numerical score of who has more killed really your deciding factor?

      My point is that these scenarios are REAL and they are the scenarios Hamas intends for.

      Reply to Comment
    34. Piotr Berman

      GR: if you believe in Iron Dome, wait until the geniuses who rule Israel will start a war with Iran.

      Israel excels at kidnapping (although with curious choices — power station managers?), assassinations and oppression of villagers. Her methods of resolving disputes over TV frequencies are without compare (send the troops in the middle of the night! Einstein would not figure it out!). One day it will not be enough. You cannot win a war if you do not finish it.

      Reply to Comment
    35. aristeides

      GR – I see the distinction but I reject it. IDF aims its weapons into populated areas with the firm knowledge that civilians, including children, will inevitably be hit and killed. Hundreds and thousands are killed in these exercises. To say that it is not “targeting” civilians is sophistry.
      .
      Gazans fire their unguided, imprecise weapons wherever they can reach, and casualties are minimal, never amounting to “scores.” It’s all they can do. No, it does no good, but compared to the deadly Israeli attacks, there is no moral equivalence.
      .
      You won’t like this, but I would like to see, *in cases of Israeli aggression* the numbers of Israeli dead piling up. I would like to see Israeli civilian dead equal in numbers to the dead of their victims, physical destruction as widespread as the destruction Israel creates when it attacks other nations. Israel needs to lose its sense of impunity, the belief that it can make war on others but others can not make war back on Israel. Israel needs to learn that when states start wars, people get hurt.
      .
      Israelis like to cheer on the killing, sit on the hillsides and watch Gazans die, write death wishes on the bombs about to be dropped on Lebanon, post “GO IDF!” on websites at the news that people have been killed. Many Israelis don’t seem to realize that the people they are killing are people, mostly civilians, but also militants and soldiers attempting to defend their own countries and people. They talk about “exterminating the terrorists” as if these people were rats or cockroaches – the plain language of genocide. And they think they can do this with no risk and inconvenience to themselves.

      Reply to Comment
    36. aristeides

      btw – as an American, I have to admit that my own country has much the same sense of impunity and entitlement. Israel and the US are alike in that they only pick on enemies with a grossly disproportional inferiority of arms, and prefer to fight their wars on the home ground of their enemies. Our wars, even more than Israel’s, are wars of choice and can in no way be called self-defense. We are buffered by oceans so that the enemies we choose can’t easily reach us.
      .
      There hasn’t been a war fought on US soil for 150 years, yet lately we are constantly waging some war on some other nation’s soil, laying waste to other people’s homelands. Americans, too, could stand to learn what it’s like when their wars come home.

      Reply to Comment
    37. GR

      You’re completely delusional if you think increasing Israeli casualties will make Israeli citizens realize those killing their families are ‘human’ as well.

      Reply to Comment
    38. aristeides

      So Israelis have no sense of humanity?
      .
      Perhaps it would at least make them think twice about inflicting casualties on others if they could expect to suffer them themselves.
      .
      I consider impunity to be a great evil, one of the greatest, as the cause of so many other evils. Plato understood this when he wrote the myth of Gyges’ ring – a person who was sure he would not be punished would be likely to commit any crime.

      Reply to Comment
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