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to not understand how you can fire missiles targeting civilians and it not be a war crime

(540 Posts)
Itsaboatjack Thu 15-Nov-12 23:46:53

now I'm not especially knowledgable about the problems in the middle east but surely firing missiles into a city intentionally killing civilians is some kind of war crime?

Absy Fri 16-Nov-12 10:56:36

"There is no such thing as a civilian in what is known as Israel, from the age of 7 children are trained as soldiers, and all people from the jewish diaspora who apply to live there are aware of what they are going into."

On what are you basing this? I have never EVER heard, or seen, Israeli or Jewish children being conscripted. Men are conscripted at the age of 18 for three years, subject to some exclusions, and women at 18 for 18 months. Conscription could be for military service, or for civilian service (e.g. teaching in schools, working in old age homes)

RedToothbrush Fri 16-Nov-12 10:58:59

"History is written by the victors"

Is kind of a sentiment I apply to this. Throughout modern history both sides in virtually every conflict have been guilty of war crimes. The biggest difference is that people on the 'winning' side or (more powerful side in stalemates) have a tendency not to take action against their own side for unlawful actions. I can think of a couple of British examples; some which have never been pursued and others that we have been taken to court over (Kenya springs to mind

Then you have people like Peace Envoy to the Middle East Tony Blair... much accused of war crimes himself.

Again and again its been proven that "one man's freedom fighter is another man's terrorist" and ideas about defence of the people and protecting lives are never whiter than white as there is almost always 'collateral damage' to the opposite side. I think as a general rule the biggest concern we should have is about 'disproportionate' use of force rather than necessarily who ends up being targeted.

War is never pretty. Civilians always die. And tbh, war crimes are often unfortunately, more to do with the eye of the beholder, their underlying beliefs/political affiliation and how fully aware they are of the actions of both sides in the conflict. And many, many are frankly ignored, covered up or excused in one way or another. There are exceptions to this where war crimes are very clear cut - acts of genocide for example. But for the most part, it tends to be about the ability of one party to report what happens and to be believed and taken seriously that is the bigger factor. If our media is biased in one way or another, stories of one side tend not to reach our ears.

They say the first casualty of war is the truth and its just so true. (The second is probably law).

My heart breaks over Palestine and Israel. I believe both sides can justify what they are doing to a greater or lesser extent atm even though I am a peacemaker at heart. Both have had civilians die. But ultimately more violence will never resolve the deeply entrenched beliefs and actually solve the problem.

dreamingbohemian Fri 16-Nov-12 11:10:20

Agree with every word of that Red.

Also, just to point out that the argument that there are no civilians in Israel is the argument used by Hamas and IJ to justify suicide attacks and terrorism (based on universal conscription). It is not an argument recognized in international law.

ElaineBenes Fri 16-Nov-12 11:40:08


I think you need to learn what genocide means.

Personally, I don't agree with the actions of the Israeli government. But the reason I think that there is an element of anti-semitism is the hyperbole which surrounds the conflict.

It is not genocide, gaza is not a concentration camp nor is it the Warsaw ghetto. If you think it is you're either ignorant or prejudiced.

ForkInTheForeheid Fri 16-Nov-12 11:47:30

^ This ^
I'm not for a second suggesting that Noam Chomsky is an unbiased or disinterested source of information but if anyone can read that and continue to defend Israel's policies I'll be impressed.
(Disclaimer, I'm not an expert on the situation but I think it takes a huge amount of doublethink in society to NOT see the Palestine issue as a massive abuse of human rights).

ElaineBenes Fri 16-Nov-12 11:51:55

And the allies didn't create Israel, there was always a Jewish community in Israel since the Romans expelled the Jews in the second century.

The Palestinians could have accepted the peel plan, the UN partitioning plan - they said no. In both cases, Israel would have been a tiny sliver and no Palestinian would have lost their home. Then there were the 3 no's of Khartoum where Israel offered the Palestinians all of the west bank and gaza in exchange for peace (before the settler movement began). Then in the Oslo accords, Palestinian fat cats were more interested in gaining privileges for themselves and ensuring their authority than in negotiating a fair settlement and then yasser Arafat started the second intifada because of his own delusions of grandeur. Its sad for the Palestinians , they've been let down time and time again by their leaders and when Israel has a bad leader as well like benyamin Netanyahu, things are even bleaker.

I mentioned dresden above not as an excuse for Israeli actions but just to demonstrate that when your civilian population is under attack the pressure to respond is immense and would be exactly the same if London came under attack. I don't agree with it but I understand it.

dreamingbohemian Fri 16-Nov-12 11:54:15

I don't think hyperbole is necessarily due to anti-Semitism (although sometimes it can be). I think more often it is simply shock and horror at the conditions under which Gazans have to live, their extreme lack of freedom and impoverishment. It's not that far off to call it an open-air concentration camp (closer to the Dachau model than Auschwitz, obviously). The Gazans are not allowed to leave their tiny strip of territory, which is horribly overcrowded; they are refused normal access to food, medicine, construction materials, all the normal things needed for life -- they have no control over their borders, everything that goes in or out can be controlled by Israel. They are not a state, they have no real political rights. They are trapped and starving and I think it is that element that conjures up images of a camp.

I don't think references to the Holocaust are helpful but they're not necessarily born of prejudice. If England was doing the same thing to, say, Wales, you'd be hearing similar comparisons.

ElaineBenes Fri 16-Nov-12 12:02:11

Oh FFs, it's not dachau! I'm not saying its ok what heppens in gaza but, seriously, read a bit about dachau before you make these comments. The constant holocaust comparisons are distasteful, offensive and antisemitic.

PoppyAmex Fri 16-Nov-12 12:08:15

(Reuters) - Apple's new iPhone 5 is selling well in the Gaza Strip despite inflated prices, reaching the Palestinian enclave via smuggling tunnels even before high-tech hub Israel next door.
The cutting edge smart phone is being snapped up for almost double what it costs in the United States, its price jacked up by middlemen on its circuitous delivery route from Dubai via tunnels linking the blockaded territory with Egypt.

The iPhone 5 will not be available until December from mobile operators in tech-mad Israel, which along with Egypt maintains a partial blockade of Gaza to prevent the entry of anything that could be used for military purposes.

But the phones have been available for a couple of weeks in Gaza and they were on display on Monday in three independent mobile stores in a one-block radius in downtown Gaza City.

Prices ranged from 4,500 Israeli shekels ($1,170) for the 16 gigabyte model to 5,700 ($1,480) for 64 gb.

"I ordered 30 and I've sold 20 so far," said one dealer. "We can order as many as we want. But most people are waiting for the price to go down. They're pretty expensive."

ElaineBenes Fri 16-Nov-12 12:09:23

And dreaming bohemian, you know that Egypt guards a border with the gaza strip? Why don't they open their border to Palestinians? Aren't they friends?

Palestinians used to have the right to travel freely to Israel. It only stopped BECAUSE of the terrorist incidents. Israel removed all its settlements in the gaza strip and they still fire rockets!

MoreBeta Fri 16-Nov-12 12:10:28

dreaming - I should have said relative restraint.

What you said about "Of course Bibi has started a new conflict, there's elections coming up." is no doubt correct. What is also true is what ElaineBenes said about "Palestinian fat cats" is also true.

The leaders of both sides have an interest in stirring up the conflict from time to time but only up to a point.

Israel has the military capacity to launch a total blitzkrieg war on Gaza that would literally raise the place to the ground. They will not. The Palestinians could cause enough death and destruction in Israel to provoke an extreme Israeli reaction. They won't.

PoppyAmex Fri 16-Nov-12 12:13:27

"It's not that far off to call it an open-air concentration camp (closer to the Dachau model than Auschwitz, obviously)."

Yes, "obviously". hmm

ElaineBenes Fri 16-Nov-12 12:13:39

Unfortunately the skeptic in me agrees with you regarding Bibi and the elections, more beta. Just glad Obama is president and not Romney as he'd have given Bibi carte Blanche.

ElaineBenes Fri 16-Nov-12 12:18:04

I know poppy! The level of ignorance about the holocaust is astonishing.

But what the hell, it doesn't matter since there is no such thing as a civilian in Israel above the age of 7 (and those under are just soldiers in waiting anyhow) hmm

RedToothbrush Fri 16-Nov-12 12:18:48

There was an interesting article on the BBC website the other day that highlighted the cycle of violence going on, between the too and just how politically motived it was.

The last Israeli clamp down was in 2008. It reduced the number of rocket attacks significantly. But the number has grown steadily every year until this year - when it has reached the same level as 2008. So the calls for another clamp down have come from Israel hence the action.

But on the flip side, Hamas can not afford to look weak in Palestine and just back down, so although there are threats by the Israelis that any further attack will lead to airstrikes if they don't fight back, they face loosing political support from their own and this risks an even more militant group seizing power from them.

So much of it is postering and political. And I think if there hadn't been other changes elsewhere in the middle east, perhaps it could be controlled.

However the call up of 30000 reservists is more worrying and this is where I have more concerns about disproportionate force.

The change of government in Egypt is a worry for Israel and you've got the ongoing Iran saga. I struggle to see how its not going to be a lot more serious at this moment in time. I think Britain and France have an enormous role to play in this as a result (especially since we both one of the 5 key members of the UN security council). We are each others closest allies and have the same problem; we have military pacts with US and Israel but also have a significant percentage of the population with Palestinian sympathies. Expect to see lots of diplomatic action from us both...

MoreBeta Fri 16-Nov-12 12:19:10

PoppyAmex - the trade through the tunnels is one very good reason why the powerful in Gaza like it to stay just the way it is. If they lose power or if Israel opened up its borders after a peace treaty then guess who would lose out? Yes the people curently in power in Gaza who control the tunnels and everything else.

dreamingbohemian Fri 16-Nov-12 12:19:26

Ok first off, I didn't say it was Dachau. I said it's not that far off to call it an open-air concentration camp. I specified Dachau as obviously there is a huge difference between concentration and extermination camps, and I do not think it's plausible to compare Gaza to an extermination camp (eg Auschwitz), at all.

I used to work at a Holocaust research center so I do know a little bit about this thanks.

As I'm sure you know, concentration camps are not unique to the Holocaust. The Brits used them in the Boer war, the US in the Philippines, the Serbs in Bosnia, Sri Lanka has used something like it more recently with the Tamils. There are not that many words available to invoke the phenomenon of collecting a huge number of people in an enclosed space and depriving them of freedom and basic needs (though I would personally compare it more to a siege situation).

I don't think the Holocaust should be invoked lightly, but it is the touchstone for modern discussions of human rights and atrocities. That is not going to stop just because it's Israel violating human rights in this case.

RedToothbrush Fri 16-Nov-12 12:19:34

I would have linked to the BBC article, but I can't find it for the life of me.

RedToothbrush Fri 16-Nov-12 12:22:26

Concentration camp might not be the right description. Internment camp might perhaps be a better one.

Subtule but significant difference.

dreamingbohemian Fri 16-Nov-12 12:26:06

That's true, Red.

Like I said, I don't personally think of it that way at all. You can draw many more parallels with the siege of Sarajevo, for instance. But I think others can make that argument without it being driven by prejudice.

dreamingbohemian Fri 16-Nov-12 12:30:22

More Beta you are absolutely right about the tunnels. (another parallel with Sarajevo btw)

MoreBeta Fri 16-Nov-12 12:41:43

I didnt know about Sarajevo but I believe Northern Ireland was latterly often more about gangs on the two sides fighting over drugs and smuggling rights.

Alisvolatpropiis Fri 16-Nov-12 12:45:09

It is not anti-Semitic to criticise Israels behaviour regarding Palestine. It is hysterical to say it is. It is not the "politically correct" way if being anti-Semitic because one cannot criticise Israel without being accused of being anti-Semitic.

I'm not saying Israeli civilians are to blame. I am not saying Jewish people as a whole are to blame. The Israeli government is to blame,as an entity.

Yes every country should be allowed to defend itself. No every country should not shell school children as they sit in a lesson. The Palestinians have had their land eroded massively since Israel was founded.

The fact that a terrorist group is now running Palestine is demonstrative of how desperate it's people are. Firing missiles with the intention of harming Israeli civilians is abhorrent. It is also nothing that Israel has not done itself.

pinkbraces Fri 16-Nov-12 12:46:18

I really try very hard not to get involved in this type of thread but when I see statements like this:

"There is no such thing as a civilian in what is known as Israel, from the age of 7 children are trained as soldiers, and all people from the jewish diaspora who apply to live there are aware of what they are going into"

I have to get involved.

As has been said many times on this thread, Rockets have been fired into Israle continuously for many years. If this happened in anyother country the right of that Country to defened itself would not be in question. In fact, its such a common occurence for military rockets to be fired at towns in Israel it barely makes the news.

My DD was in Tel-Aviv last weekend visiting friends who are on a gap year, every morning these friends get a security email telling them where they cannot go that day as the security risk is to great. This is so normal for Israeli's they barely notice it either.

But when the rockets escalate to over 100 in a few days what else do you think that Israel should do? Continue to ignore?

PoppyAmex Fri 16-Nov-12 12:51:11

"No every country should not shell school children as they sit in a lesson. "

Oh yes I agree completely, the fact that the Palestinians systematically and almost exclusively target civilians is horrifying.



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