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Monday, July 14, 2014

Why Netanyahu has not ordered a ground invasion

Prime Minister Netanyahu has not ordered a ground invasion due to international pressure and due to the fact that he understands that he would be sending at least some IDF soldiers to their deaths. We all understand that. But there's more to it than that. Elliott Abrams writes that Netanyahu has not ordered a ground invasion because of the warped moral calculation it would cause with respect to casualty numbers.
For one thing, Netanyahu knows he would be sending some Israeli soldiers to their deaths. But he also knows that in the sick math of the Gaza war, Israel would be blamed for “disproportionate” killing.
What that means is simple: too many Palestinians would die, and “not enough” Israelis–in the view of much of “world opinion.” You would read that calculation in the New York Times and see it on the BBC. In “Operation Cast Lead” in 2008, about 1000-1400 Palestinians died, and 13 Israelis. In “Operation Pillar of Defense” in 2012 it was something like 150 to 6. As of now, in the current conflict there are no Israeli deaths and about 100 Palestinian deaths. Here’s how Time Magazine started its story:
The death toll among Palestinians scrambling under a relentless Israeli air assault in the Gaza Strip passed 80 Thursday and edged close to 100 Friday, including at least 14 children….Meanwhile, the barrage of rockets Gaza militants launched toward Israeli cities failed to produce a significant casualty on the third day of Israel’s offensive Thursday….The Israeli military said it destroyed more buildings in the first 36 hours of the current campaign than in all of Pillar of Defense. More people are dying too: the 80 fatalities reported so far is, once again, more than half the reported death toll from the longer bombing two years earlier.
Time then discussed exactly this phenomenon: when what “world opinion” sees as “too many” Palestinians dying and the balance is “too great” in Israel’s favor–that is, too many Palestinians and not enough Israelis being killed–the calls for a cease-fire will escalate. Moral equivalency between Israel and Hamas will be the order of the day–except for those who elevate Hamas, since after all it is killing fewer people!
Remember this: in the Second World War, the United States suffered 416,000 combat deaths, or about 0.32 percent of the population. Germany suffered 4-5 million combat deaths, or about 5 percent of the population. The death ratio was 10 to 1. Did that make the war unjust? Does that mean the United States inflicted “disproportionate” numbers of casualties? Unfortunately the Israelis know “world opinion” will never be on their side in these arguments. Let’s just hope the United States is.
UPDATE: UN Human Rights chief Navi Pillay has already proved this analysis right, even before an Israeli ground incursion. She said this today:
For its part, the Government of Israel must take all possible measures to ensure full respect for the principles of distinction, proportionality and precautions in attack, during the conduct of hostilities, as required by international humanitarian law. In all circumstances, they must avoid targeting civilians. However, we have received deeply disturbing reports that many of the civilian casualties, including of children, occurred as a result of strikes on homes. Such reports raise serious doubt about whether the Israeli strikes have been in accordance with international humanitarian law and international human rights law.
So, she is already accusing Israel of breaking international humanitarian law and human rights law. Perhaps since Goldstone has retired, she is filling in.
You have to wonder what the outcome of World War II would have been had the World been as 'moral' as it is today.

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