Buildings in Gaza destroyed by Israeli airstrikes last month. Credit: Mohammed Salem / Reuters
B. Michael | Jun. 3, 2021 | 12:22 AM | 10
This too has become routine in the routine of the “operations”: Israel kills, mainly civilians. It sows destruction indiscriminately, pulverizing infrastructure, to its heart’s delight. Then it goes home very, very pleased with itself.
And when the world gets a little displeased with the sight of the death and destruction and demands an explanation, the most shopworn, fallacious and audacious excuse is pulled from the junk pile: “The vile enemy leaders hid behind civilians.”
This time too the tradition was preserved – again the mountains of rubble, again the piles of bodies, half of them women and children, again the moldy old excuse: “They hid behind civilians.”
This was said in myriad languages from the mouths of members of the Israel Defense Forces Spokesperson’s Unit and from volunteers, and even from the mouth of the honorable outgoing president, Reuven Rivlin. Absolutely everyone knew where the Hamas chiefs were hiding and who it was permissible to kill to get to them.
But lo and behold, again and again Israel embarks on “operations.” Again and again it kills civilians, and again and again it misses the vile leaders hiding behind them. The civilians die like flies, the leaders are untouched.
Civilians in Gaza, so it appears, are cut from special cloth. Even a remarkably smart Israeli missile, the kind that can sneak through a bathroom window to “neutralize” someone who has been sentenced to neutralization, can’t breach a wall of civilians in Gaza to hit the people hiding behind them.
That’s strange. Very strange. Is it any wonder that there are wicked people who suspect that this wanton killing is actually the goal? That the operation should have been called Joy of Killing and not Guardian of the Walls?
This excuse contains not only untruth and demagoguery but also chutzpah of the highest order. The following is a partial list of the hiding places of Israel’s leaders, both political and military.
Israeli military headquarters hides behind the civilian residents of central Tel Aviv and the patients at Ichilov Hospital just 450 meters from the office of the commander in chief. Sheba Medical Center outside Tel Aviv protects the Tel Hashomer military base. The navy base in Haifa hides in the shadow of the Rambam medical center. Even “our nuclear family” hides among the resolute and pastoral rural population.
And Israel’s leaders? The prime minister hides behind the civilian residents of Jerusalem’s Talbieh neighborhood, and his designated successor does the same in Ra’anana. The defense minister hides in Rosh Ha’ayin, and the military chief on Moshav Adi. His deputy is surrounded by a wall in the form of the civilians of Hod Hasharon. And so on; they’re all sheltering behind civilians, as if they were Hamasniks.
Israel’s chutzpah soars to unprecedented heights when you consider the celebrated “settlement enterprise,” which is entirely sheltered behind civilians. It’s an enterprise that derives most of its power from launching civilians – men, women and children – into war zones. It’s quick to translate every injury to its people into more and more demands for land and funding. It has occupation militias, whose members are, when they wish, brave pioneers making the desert and their neighbors bloom or, when they wish, tranquil civilians – persecuted Jewish nebbishes deserving only compassion and gifts of flesh and blood.
The employees in this enterprise have brought the art of hiding behind civilians to truly Olympian heights. And their leaders, the rabbis who created them, consecrated them and lead them, they too hide among them, pretending to be “spiritual shepherds,” always responsible but never culpable.
So the time has come to come up with a different excuse – or to tell the truth for a change.