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Israel leaves its own civilians defenseless as war looms

There is a direct connection between the Israeli government’s disdain towards casualties among the “enemy’s” civilian population, and its indifference to the fate of its own civilians. The next war, unfortunately, will probably see both groups badly suffer.

As I have written here in the past, there are strong indications that Israel may be inching towards war with several of its neighbors. We have good reason to believe this war will have a devastating impact on the non-Israeli side. But what about ordinary Israeli civilians? How will they fare in such a war? Sadly, it seems there is cause for concern on this front as well.

Israel has been engaged in some level of armed conflict for all but a few years of its existence. Most of these conflicts have included risk for Israeli civilians, who were often the primary target of attacks. One would therefore expect this country to be at the forefront of civil defense. However, this is not the case.

The Carmel Fire was a wakeup call, in this regard. While the government is investing billions in arming for the next conflict – with Iran, Hezbollah, Hamas or all three at once – it has completely neglected its fire fighters, with fatal results. But if these foes, as expected, would retaliate with massive rocket and missile strikes on Israeli towns and cities, the fire services would be critical in reducing the number of fatalities.

While this hole in the country’s defense would hopefully be plugged now, one cannot know to what extent other emergency services, which would be required during times of war, have been neglected. It is already clear that even some of the most obvious defensive measures have not been undertaken.

After years of court battles, the government has barely made any progress on reinforcing homes and schools in the Jewish localities of the south, which are in the range of rockets fired from Gaza. The government claims that it cannot cover these expenses, even though they are dwarfed by the cost of the Gaza war, supposedly fought on behalf of those residents.

No one is even talking about the Negev Bedouin, whose homes, in villages unrecognized by the state, are too ramshackle to be reinforced. In all likelihood, they will suffer disproportionately, at the same times as some of them (who serve in the IDF) will be sent to fight and risk in their lives for a country that would not protect their families.

The Israeli south was supposed to be protected by an advanced new anti-rocket system known as the Iron Dome. Only, it turns out that this scheme was a hustle, concocted by Israel’s defense establishment and its chums in the military industries. The system is no better, or worse, than already available alternatives, and was actually designed to be exported to other countries, rather than for deployment to protect the south.

This is much more than incompetence. Even before the country’s inception, the debate was already raging on the merits of protecting civilians during war time. A well-defended citizenry, the argument goes, would be content in its fortifications. This would undermine public support for offensive action, which is, of course, the only true source of our security.

Moreover, in the national ethos, civilians are often considered yet another tool of promoting national goals, even if this puts them at risk. Often, the weakest populations of the country have been sent to “hold” its frontier areas, where they have languished, economically impoverished and vulnerable to attack.  Even public opinion is more sensitive to military casualties, than to the death of “mere” civilians.

The Iron Dome, indeed, is not the only “defensive” project, which was eventually used for other purposes. The 1982 invasion to Lebanon was justified by the need to protect Israel’s north from PLO attacks. Eventually, it turned out that the true purpose of the war was to extend Israel’s regional hegemony.

The separation barrier, presented as an answer to terrorist attacks in Israel’s cities, was routed in order to annex as many settlements as possible, and even their land reserves. In some cases, this meant positioning the fence in less defensible areas, not to mention the increased cost and international opprobrium.

There is a direct connection between the Israeli government’s disdain towards casualties among the “enemy’s” civilian population, and its indifference to the fate of its own civilians. The next war, unfortunately, will probably see both groups badly suffer.

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    1. Tania Guimaraes

      Please Israel!

      Do not wage war against several enemies. Restore what it really means to be a people of peace and evolution. It is not commanded by God that you must kill your own and many others in order to have peace. There can be a two state solution and peace can be at hand.
      Your religion has been taken hostage. What we see has nothing to do with judaims. jewishness is about loving, compassion, and humanity. I don’t recognize you any longer.
      The world sees what you are doing and it is not right. There is no portion of land in this earth that requires so much human blood and misery in order to own. This is now about power, control and dominium over others. This looks more like your most horrific opressor in europe. it is as if you have become him, swallowed him.
      Please Israel. I love you! One day I want to be in your gardens with you. Please do not destroy. You will have the love of the world once you look at your bretheren in the eye, embrace and confort him. I plea for peace.

      Reply to Comment
    2. Isaac Haskiya

      You´re wrong Roi on two points at least.
      Lebanon 1982 had the purpose of taking out the PLO. It did. The extra land, whatever it was, is a necessary strategic buffer zone as extra security against incursions since there is no peace agreement between the Lebanon and its local allies. Hezbullah is the proof of it.
      The cement barrier´s purpose was and still is to keep certain Palestinians out. The settlements are the result of political thinking as in “Why shouldn´t Jews live in Judea and Samaria when 1,5 million Palestinian Arabs live in Israel itself?” Listen to the sound of these words: Jericho, Hebron, Schechem, Bethlehem. Do they sound Arabic to you? What about Yerushalayim? is that Arabic too? Come on Roi, get real! Accept your heritage!

      Reply to Comment