Monday, June 06, 2005

"We No Longer Saw Them As Human"

Under the category of "but it can't happen here" from Reuters:
Israeli special forces killed 15 Palestinians, including police, in a 2002 shooting spree ordered to avenge comrades slain in a West Bank ambush, an Israeli newspaper said on Friday, citing testimony by troops.

The army, commenting on the report in the Maariv daily, said Israeli forces had targeted "checkpoints manned by Palestinian policemen who facilitated the passage and actively assisted ... terrorists" who killed civilians and soldiers.

Two former commandos, their names withheld, told Maariv that after Palestinian militants killed six Israeli soldiers at a checkpoint near Ramallah in February 2002, they were told to attack Palestinian-run checkpoints elsewhere in the West Bank.

"'We are going to liquidate Palestinian policemen at a checkpoint in revenge for our six soldiers that they killed'," one ex-commando, quoted his commander as saying. He added that "the feeling was that this would be 'an eye for an eye.'"

The report was the latest public challenge to Israel's official insistence that its forces have abided by a strict code of ethics in battling a 4-1/2-year-old Palestinian uprising.

In a statement, the army said that at the time, it had been "instructed by the political echelon to change the mode of operation and adjust it to the harsh reality on the ground."

That entailed "hunting down all those involved in terror activities, including members of the Palestinian Authority security apparatus" until the PA prevented "terror attacks emanating from Palestinian towns and cities," the army said.

The other interviewee described taking part in a raid on a group of Palestinian policemen drinking coffee at a checkpoint near where the Israeli soldiers had been ambushed.

"The moment we knew we were going to eliminate them, we no longer saw them as human," the ex-commando, now a student, said.

He said that after the first volley felled the Palestinians, he delivered a coup-de-grace to one of them, a man in his 50s.

"It was the first time I had killed and the first time I saw someone die. It was simply a pleasurable day," the former commando said.
The irony of Israelis using this sort of language to describe their own murderous rampage is chilling enough. But politicians instructing troops to become judge, jury and executioner, taking pleasure in committing outrages, and no longer seeing a supposed "enemy" as human? Just incredible.

Isn't it?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's been happening in Iraq for a long time. Probably Afganistan too. Need I mention Gitmo?

6/06/2005 6:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Seem to me TCR's point was exactly that, it has been "happening here."

6/06/2005 6:28 PM  
Blogger Caius said...

No, it's not incredible. It's completely credible. Why should anything surprise us? We're human; we're mammals; we're animals. This is what we do.

6/06/2005 6:31 PM  
Blogger Blog Bloke said...

It is "incredible" to think that we humans have the capability of such extreme atrocities.

It has happened in every war since the dawn of mankind and is a reminder that we should never be so smug or let our guard down to the beast that is within.

...Blog Bloke

6/06/2005 6:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Incredible? When you live in hatred of one another killing is normal. There will never be a solution and the fight will continue. The roots of this conflict go back to Abraham.

6/06/2005 9:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is it so shocking that after years and years of Palestinians turning themselves into bombs (i.e. treating themselves as non-human) that the Israelis will too?

6/07/2005 8:57 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The guys you find in elite commando units don't tend to be of the "peaceable kingdom" mindset. You look for people who want to kill other people as a job, so you can't be surprised when they like to kill people in their job.

6/07/2005 10:08 AM  
Blogger Tayefeth said...

The "years and "years" of Palestinians using suicide bombing came after the Israeli internment camps for Palestinians/Arabs.

Personally, I find it horrible that anyone can find it "a pleasurable day" when killing someone. Not unbelievable, but horrible. Especially given that the Likud government seems to be trying to find ways to let these people have their "fun", rather than trying to control them.

6/07/2005 12:16 PM  
Blogger David the Gyromancer said...

This is why I have always believed in strict civilian control of the military as one of the central tenets of democracy. Warriors tend to see their profession as not only noble and necessary, but fun. Instead of dreadful and awful, but sometimes regrettably necessary, and always in constant need of monitoring, regulation, oversight, and limits to keep on the right side of the "bright line" between civilization and barbarism.

6/07/2005 1:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm sure the Israel-firsters will be informing you why these incidents are all good.

Isreal will end like South Africa's apartheid governement did. Hopefully sooner, rather than later.

6/07/2005 3:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can't easily find the lyrics on line but Stephen Sondheim wrote a great song that was cut from "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way...." called "There's Something about a War" that addresses some of the issues above.

But for me it all comes down to this- you can't fix something if you can't see it clearly. These guys in power can't see much clearly-think they have divine authority and beleive its a sign of weakness to listen to someone who disagress with them.
Character does matter and these guys would not hesitate to retailiate- perhaps even a bit stronger-because that is who they are.
We all have to keep speaking truth and pointing out the emperor has all our clothes and being reality, not faith, based.

6/07/2005 5:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The path to chaos lies in always taking the side of chaos over order.

In choosing to spot light Israeli attacks on Palestianian you have chosen to support the attacks by the Israeli police rather than attacks by the PLO police who did exactly the same thing.

When you attack the good guys for not being the goodest guys possible while ignoring that the bad guys you in effect chose the bad guys over the good guys.

Terrorism, in the end cannot be won by killing the guilty as Tim McVey pinted out, no matter how hard we killed him the score was McVey 168:1. If a group of people choose this tactic in mass as the PLO and Hamas have and there is no reasonable peaceful compromise as so far there appears to not be, then there are only 2 options.

Kill innocents or accept that your civilization will eventually be destroyed by a militarily weaker civilization. This should never be the first choice or one entered into easily but at some point the friend of my enemy is in fact my enemy.

This is what is so insideous about terrorism, it relies on the opponent being more civilized and in effect going extinct by virtue of not wanting to retaliate in kind. Hamas knows that Israel could kill their civilians at will but generally choses not to so they attack all Isreali civilians as much as they can.

During WWII would you have complained about allied bombing of civilians? Yet did hitler ever use suicide bombers to attack kindergardens? Did the Japenese ever target civilians rather than military?

6/07/2005 10:32 PM  
Blogger Tayefeth said...

The path to chaos lies in always taking the side of chaos over order.

What makes you think Israel is on the side of order?

6/08/2005 11:50 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your title reminded me of this picture .
Man I can't believe we did things like this to people and we should prevent it from ever happening again wherever we can. ABC news is covering the "Mississippi Burning" case. It occurred in 1964, but is being tried today. I don't know, it is just hard to judge the world when you look at our own record.

6/10/2005 5:18 PM  
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