Monday, December 29, 2008

What's Wrong With Israel Defending Itself?

In a word, "nothing."

There's nothing wrong with Israel defending itself against rocket attacks launched from Gaza. Nothing. I have the right to defend myself, you have the right to defend yourself, Israel has the right to defend its people.


Does Israel's right to defend itself against terrorist rocket attacks from Gaza give it the right to respond with terrorist aerial bombardment of the Palestinians?


Most of the aerial bombs Israeli jets are dropping into the overcrowded neighbourhoods in Gaza are of the type depicted above. They're American designed, if not American built, and come in 500, 1,000 and 2,000 pound denominations. They're high-explosive bombs that generate not just shrapnel but incredibly lethal blast:

"Blast is caused by tremendous dynamic overpressures generated by the detonation of a high explosive. Complete (high order) detonation of high-explosives can generate pressures up to 700 tons per square inch and temperatures in the range of 3,000 to 4,500ยบ prior to bomb case fragmentation. It is essential that the bomb casing remain intact long enough after the detonation sequence begins to contain the hot gases and achieve a high order explosion. A consideration when striking hardened targets is that deformation of the weapon casing or fuze may cause the warhead to dud or experience a low order detonation. Approximately half of the total energy generated will be used in swelling the bomb casing to 1.5 times its normal size prior to fragmenting and then imparting velocity to those fragments. The remainder of this energy is expended in compression of the air surrounding the bomb and is responsible for the blast effect. This effect is most desirable for attacking walls, collapsing roofs, and destroying or damaging machinery."

"...For purposes of the present discussion, however, let us concede that the bombs and missiles strike with all the accuracy claimed for them. What happens then? As described recently by Newhouse reporter David Wood, the 2000-pound JDAM “releases a crushing shock wave and showers jagged, white-hot metal fragments at supersonic speed, shattering concrete, shredding flesh, crushing cells, rupturing lungs, bursting sinus cavities and ripping away limbs in a maelstrom of destruction.” Hardly anyone survives within 120 meters of the blast, where pressures of several thousand pounds per square inch and 8,500-degree heat simply obliterate everything, human and material. Metal fragments are spewed nearly three-quarters of a mile, and bigger pieces may fly twice that far; no one within 365 meters can expect to remain unharmed, and persons up to 1000 meters or farther away from the point of impact may be harmed by flying fragments. Of course, the explosions also start fires over a wide area, which themselves may do vast damage, even to structures and people unharmed by the initial blast."

Aerial bombardment of residential areas is not a legitimate means of self-defence. Targeting a Hamas police headquarters in a built-up district is quite different than bombing a known site used by rocket launchers. Furthermore, police are considered civilians under the laws of war. But this doesn't hang on fine points about the culpability of any particular agent of the elected Hamas government. It's about the deliberate killing of innocents to avenge the deliberate killing of innocents.

As I've written many times before, we are all deemed to intend the logical consequences of our acts. That applies to you, to me and to governments. The logical consequences of aerial bombardment of residential areas include the deaths and maiming of innocents. This is terrorism.

So, it's not about whether you're pro-Palestine or pro-Israel. Even if you're pro-Israel you're backing a terrorist state. Aerial bombardment of civilian areas is rank butchery, plain and simple. It has nothing to do with self-defence and everything to do with retaliatory terrorism. The fact that Israel is our ally changes nothing.


LeDaro said...

MoS, where is our furious leader (as you will call him) on all of this? He has made no statement on the issue to my knowledge.

The Mound of Sound said...

Harper doesn't need to comment. Just as he endorsed Israel when it used millions of cluster munitions in residential areas of Lebanon during Israel's failed scrap with Hezbollah, he'd hardly fault Israel over Gaza. I suppose he's dummied up because he really doesn't have anything to gain by speaking up.

WesternGrit said...

And he won't. Harper has the Bush doctrine-US Foreign Policy stuffed so far up his @$$ that you see it when he speaks... He may meekly come out in the next week or so with a very general statement like, "we regret the civilian deaths, but we need to see Hamas cease their attacks".

I also fully support Israel's right to self defense. I do believe that the Palestinian and Israeli people are innocent victims caught in the cross-fire... part of a collective global "dick-measuring contest".

In cases like these, I don't know if we can hold the individual state responsible - whether Israel, or Somalia, or Thailand, etc. The world "leaders" set the pace, and the tone for conflict (basically the UN Security Council "Big 5"). If the world's most powerful democracy can bomb civilian targets at will (in Iraq and Afghanistan) without any fear of repercussions (US does not recognize the World Court, because they know they would be guilty of massive war crimes), then it is only too easy for other governments to do so. A simple case of "monkey see, monkey do", and "if they can get away with it, so can we".

All this televised conflict is also resulting in a public being desensitized to the violence - what, with 24/7 news coverage, another Palestinian hauling a body on a stretcher, another bombed cafe in Tel Aviv, or another rubble-strewn Iraqi neighborhood are just "shock and awe" video game graphics to a civilian population who are conducting "war by remote control".

As a supporter of the Israeli state and the Palestinian State - both co-existing (that's a new perspective, isn't it?), I have to say (as many fellow Israeli peace-protesters say) all this violence simply begets hardened attitudes on both sides, and more terrorism.

Funny... as I write this, I'm listening to John Lennon's "Imagine". Where have all the peace and progress-minded musicians gone? Is it all a case of de-sensitization to the constant violence and war?

My tears fall for all the victims - on both sides.

Anonymous said...

Israel has the right to defend itself period. Israel has the right to choose how best to defend itself period. I believe that if Hamas launches missiles from schoolyards, private homes and places where civilians may be located, then the responsibility for those civilians lies with Hamas. But in Gaza, if Hamas wants to use you as a human shield and knowingly provokes Israeli retaliation (to get some great carnage visuals on the evening newscasts that frame Israel as the agressor)you don't really have much choice, do you?

The Mound of Sound said...

Nobody, no nation, no people has an unfettered right in the use of force PERIOD. Anyone who believes that's not true is deranged PERIOD. That someone deranged enough to make that claim absolves Israel in the use of these weapons is entirely understandable PERIOD. Have a nice day.

Anonymous said...

I will have a nice day and I believe Israel is defending their citizens' right to have a nice day, by whatever means may be appropriate. Perhaps this sounds deranged to you but the protection and security of a nation's citizens is paramount to any state.

penlan said...

Lawrence Cannon made a statement about this, yesterday or Sat. He said that Israel has the right to defend itself. He also said something along the line that they (both sides) should stop & negotiate instead. Nothing new here. Just the usual.

The Mound of Sound said...

Anon,you miss the point - again. The same international order out of which Israel was created and to which it owes its existence prescribes what is and isn't appropriate in the use of state violence. If Israel chooses to live outside that order and flaunt those rules it is an outlaw, a rogue state. Israel committed plain war crimes by its use of cluster munitions against civilian regions of Lebanon. In the aftermath it failed to disclose its dispersal patterns, even to our own Western peacekeepers. Just because it's up against some ruthless thugs of limited capability doesn't mean it can use its much greater military capabilities to do the same thing. Wrong is wrong, Anon. Live with it. And have a nice day :)

Anonymous said...

As I understand it, Israel also has the right to systematically, incrementally, ethnically cleanse, colonize and annex some or all of that part of Palestine known as the West Bank. This right is made possible by a brutal military occupation. Resistance to this process has been defined as terrorism by both Israel and its American partner, as well as their many client states.
The problem is that many Palestinians prefer to die rather than be driven out again from the lands they were forced into in 1948.
What is more,the problem seems to be spreading. In both Iraq and Afghanistan there is violent resistance (terrorism in American speak) to surrendering national independence in exchange for permanent foreign military occupation and client state status. The example of what is happening to their fellow Muslims in Palestine is not helpful here. These poor misguided natives obviously need to be bombed into doing the right thing, something their western benefactors have specialized in for many centuries.

Anonymous said...

Lawrence Cannon made a statement about this, yesterday or Sat. He said that Israel has the right to defend itself. He also said something along the line that they (both sides) should stop & negotiate instead. Nothing new here. Just the usual.
Iggy just said the same in his statement...

Anonymous said...

The fact that through your entire post, only Israel is named as a terrorist state tells me all that I need to know about your views.

The Mound of Sound said...

Gee whiz Wes! Thanks for pointing that out. I guess when I wrote about "Israel's right to defend itself against terrorist rocket attacks from Gaza" you weren't able to understand what I wrote. Then again, I think you knew all you needed to know about this post without even reading it. Your type of criticism is genuinely pathetic. Read first, then talk if you have something to say. Otherwise, shut the hell up.

Anonymous said...

The Liberal Party of Canada unequivocally condemns the rocket attacks launched by Hamas against Israeli civilians and calls for an immediate end to these attacks. We affirm Israel's right to defend itself against such attacks, and also its right to exist in peace and security.