No one in Israel really talks about the killing of innocent Palestinians anymore. There was a time when we murdered people and it actually bothered us.
On Tuesday, the IDF attempted to kill Mohammed Deif, the military leader of Hamas in Gaza, by dropping five one-tonne bombs on a home. As these lines are written it is not yet clear whether Deif was killed. What can be said with certainty, however, is that his wife and eight-month-old son definitely were.
Deif has been on Israel’s wanted list for years. On Tuesday night it saw a chance, and despite the fact that it knew of other innocent civilians in the building, it went after him. The decision was made.
And as we’ve seen in the past few weeks, this is not the first time.
But no one in Israel really talks about these things anymore. I say this because I remember a time when we used to. There was a time when we murdered people and it actually bothered us.
I was reminded of this recently after watching a short documentary made by military analyst Yoav Limor for Israel’s Channel 2, called “The Human Shield.” If you understand Hebrew I highly recommend watching it, for it gives deep insight into the chilling justifications and rationalizations Israelis make for killing innocent people.
One poignant segment is that of human rights attorney Michael Sfard, who compares what is happening in Gaza today to what happened in 2002 when Israel killed then-Hamas military chief Salah Shehadeh. Sfard points out that there was a debate about the morality of killing Shehadeh, who died together with 14 innocent people that day, many of them children.
I’ve been writing for years about what this country is turning into before my eyes. The total lack of empathy for suffering on the other side is a result of deeply ingrained racism. In my eyes the Israeli response, or shall I say the lack of it, to the recent massacres in Gaza is the epitome of the unraveling of Israeli society over the past decade.
The Hebrew Wikipedia entry on the assassination of Shehadeh in 2002 states that the killing “gained criticism among left wingers in Israel.”
That wasn’t the only thing that happened back then. There were threats of taking pilots, officers and politicians to The Hague for war crimes. It also prompted the famous “Pilots Letter,” in which IDF pilots refused to take part in targeted killings. And there was even an inquiry panel that was formed, only to obviously point out that all was OK.
But probably the most memorable reaction to the assassination was that of then-Israeli Air Force Chief Dan Halutz (who later became Chief of Staff). When asked what he felt when he dropped a bomb on civilians, this is what he had to say:
No. That is not a legitimate question and it is not asked. But if you nevertheless want to know what I feel when I release a bomb, I will tell you: I feel a light bump to the plane as a result of the bomb’s release. A second later it’s gone, and that’s all. That is what I feel.
Fast forward to July-August 2014. The IDF is dropping hundreds of one-tonne bombs over Gaza, but nobody is talking about it.
The Shejaiya neighborhood, wiped out like Dresden.
It’s a given. It just happens.
There’s no debate. No second thoughts.
Take a look at the picture below. Based on data from B’Tselem, it shows members of families killed in their homes in 59 incidents of bombing or shelling. In these incidents, 458 people were killed, including 108 women under the age of 60, 214 minors and 18 people over the age of 60.
Twelve years ago when we murdered innocent people, there were some people who were bothered by it. They raised their voices. They did something. It made it into the media. There was a debate.
There was more than a “bump in the wing.”
Now Israelis couldn’t care less.
Read aloud the names of the Abu Jame’ family, then tell me this isn’t a war crime
When ‘not in my name’ is all you have in the face of a massacre
Don’t cry for me: A letter from a little girl in Gaza