27 Jul 2014

Gaza conflict: an Israeli soldier’s question

“Why the world hate Israel?” the soldier whispered.

Aged about 20, he’d been crouching to pray against our bus shelter in his shawl, with small religious caskets strapped to his head and arms. Now he packed the shawl away and shouldered an assault rifle.

He came up to me while his captain was telling us why we delayed crossing the border into Gaza. But they didn’t really need words; the dull hump of outgoing artillery fire, maybe five kilometres away, was the explanation.

There was genuine confusion in his eyes. He whispered again: “Why the world hate us?”

I explained that a lot of the world does not hate Israel, but that they are seeing every night pictures of Palestinian children killed, and proof of massive civilian casualties, and have concluded – from the UN to the thousands on the streets of London yesterday – that the force used is disproportionate and prima facie in breach of international law.

PALESTINIAN-ISRAELI-UNRESTAbove: a Palestinian child waits to fill a water bottle in Gaza

It was the second conversation of the day along the same lines: the guy who issued my press pass made the same points to me as the soldier: that “we don’t target civilians” and that Hamas’ infrastructure hides within civilian homes, hospitals etc.

To anybody who’s been anywhere near a military staff college, or an international law course, there is an obvious missing point in these justifications: soldiers, and their commanders, also have a duty to take precautions against killing civilians.

Not taking those precautions can be just as criminal as getting a rocket and firing it indiscriminately towards civilian areas as Hamas is doing.

If you read the Jerusalem Post you can understand the background to this persistent gap in Israeli military reasoning: in its lead article – summing up the whole of the action since Friday – it says: “The IDF has killed 250 terrorists in Gaza since the start of the ground offensive on July 17. The IDF hit 75 targets on Friday and 3590 targets since the start of Operation Protective Edge on July 8.”

 

No mention of civilian casualties at all – but a feature article on the next page, written from a single unnamed military source, claims that Hamas operatives, commanders and “rocket cell members” routinely keep part of their home for military, and part for civilian purposes.

Meanwhile, Israeli TV stations are not routinely showing Palestinian casualties; routinely when those casualties are mentioned, the picture showing is that of a demolished house.

‘Finish the job’

For these reasons the soldier in the shawl was actually well ahead of many Israelis, even for asking the question.

Smoke rises from Gaza as Israel continues shellingAbove: Smoke rises from Gaza City

The counter-demonstrators I saw last night, taunting the anti-war demo in Tel Aviv, though fronted by football fans, included a lot of very angry young women. Listening to them, they literally cannot conceive of why anybody would object to what the IDF is doing.

They inhabit a Twittersphere and Facebook network that is immured from criticism and debate, and which produced – during the abduction and murder of three Israeli teenagers in June, an online anti-Arab racism campaign.

Unlike the soldier in the shawl, they exhibit no understanding whatsoever of what this is doing to Israel’s reputation, or its diplomatic bargaining power.

Tensions Remain High At Israeli Gaza BorderAbove: a demonstration in support of Israel’s Gaza military action, in Tel Aviv

It’s this part of Israeli society that is in the majority and the ascendancy: they want the IDF to “finish the job”; their slogan is “let the IDF win” – ie stop pussyfooting around.

You have to be here to understand the pressure this creates on a party like Likud, which has to straddle the masses – who fantasise about “finishing the job” – and diplomacy, realpolitik and international law, which make that fantasy impossible.

In fact, Hamas’ strategic position looks weak. There will never be another Muslim Brotherhood government in Egypt; Iran’s main concern now is ISIS, Hamas’ allies in the Turkish AK party are reeling under the impact of revolts and corruption scandals at home.

So though it is riding high among Gaza’s population, Hamas will have at some point to negotiate with Israel, if only by proxy through a unified Palestinian Authority government.

Casualties

But meanwhile something has changed for Israel just as fundamentally as for Hamas. Like many “old” things in the modern world, the Gaza conflict has come newly alive with information. You could look at Gaza now as the front edge of a global information war between Israel, the Palestinians and their allies.

I’ve pointed out before, the Israeli government exhibits almost no understanding of this. Though social media and instant digital reporting makes no difference on the ground, at the strategic level it is forcing people who have never even heard of Hamas to decide what they think of the dismembered bodies of Arab children, and the men who pulled the trigger.

This in turn is making life very hard for liberal supporters of Israel in the west, so that one by one major opinion formers have started to plead for the army to stop, or show restraint, in a way that would get them screamed at if they said it in Tel Aviv.

It’s clear that the IDF has defined operational goals: knock out the tunnels, degrade Hamas as a fighting force. But in diplomacy, ideology and military action it feels like tactics without strategy.

One danger of this situation is that parts of the Israeli population come to believe the real strategy is to collectively punish Gaza’s population through a military occupation.

When it comes to civilian casualties, the UN Human Rights Council has cited “widespread, systematic and gross violations of international human rights and fundamental freedoms” as a result of Israel’s military action. It is investigating alleged war crimes.

Only the USA voted against that resolution: and though the USA remains solidly in support of Israel, its global retreat, diplomatic flailing, ineptness and disengagement – which has characterised its behaviour from Syria to Ukraine to Iraq – would worry me if the USA was my only ally in the world.

That’s a long answer to a short question from a bewildered and exhausted guy, but the best I can offer.

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79 reader comments

  1. Regis says:

    It’s tough.

    One the one hand – Israel must act. They must get rid off Hamas. I understand. And it’s hard, because Gaza is so small…

    On the other hand, not everyone in Gaza is from Hamas. And because it’s a small authonomy, civilians will die… Which is horrible.

    But I think it’s stupid that so many people hate Israel becasue it has less casualties. That’s just silly. So what? Israeli people should go and get themselves killed or what? They had better defence system, so they use it. That’s freaking logical.

    Also, I’m starting to notice very bad habits around… Hating people just for their nationality. Be it Israeli or Russians. You can hate governments and their decisions, but DON’T hate all societies!

    1. Patrik_k says:

      Problem is that the governments and rest of the leaderships is elected by the people. So the government and the action of the army of Israel are in the end what the people of Israel wants. That is why many in the world hate or dislike Israel and the people of Israel.

      1. takis says:

        you sound like government. you are blind, open your eyes and see. im 62 years old greek man, and im tired of the bs, please face reality, everybody is watching you its 2014 you know TV ? iphone ? tweet ? channel4 ? and so on. we are under the microscope, I only hope there is gonna be peace for all of us, and you know ? life is too short buddy, so ?

      2. Terri Knoll says:
      3. Alan says:

        Just like the inhabitants of Gaza elected Hamas. Assuming the elections weren’t rigged….

    2. fred says:

      Regis – I might be able to accept your comments, only the internet reveals them to be totally 1 sided.

      When Ayelet Shaken – a member of the Israeli Parliament says that the IDF should kill Palestinian mothers and their unborn children it is hard to take your comment about ‘hating a people’ seriously

      When the deputy speaker of the house Moshe Feiglin calls for ethnic cleansing (Quoting “Gaza is part of our land and will remain there forever.” and “it will become part of sovereign Israel and will be populated by Jews”, your comment on ‘lets all get along’ seems trite

      And when the son of former PM Ariel Sharon calls for Gaza to be flattened and talks about the solution in terms of Nuclear cleansing of the Palestinians (“The Americans didn’t stop at Hiroshima, Japan was being slow so they hit Negasaki too”) it’s clear that there is a layer of propaganda that gets laid on top of the views of the Israeli people and the Israeli government.

      People don’t hate the Israeli people – they hate the vile vitriol that comes from your elected leaders and the mass killings that your people permit to take place in your name.

    3. Hugh Jones says:

      No-one hates Israelis, you’re imagining that. People are outraged at the way Israel is committing war-crimes. If you want to twist that into saying that people hate Israelis then that’s you doing that.

      Also, you say it’s “silly” to mention that Israel suffers fewer casualties than Palestine. No it’s not. It shows that it is Israel who is the aggressor.

      Palestine has been under brutal occupation since 1948 and has been slowly losing land to illegal settlers. People’s lives have been made impossible.

      For decades, Palestine tried peacefully to win its freedom but it has been crushed every time and no-one ever came to its rescue because no-one gave a damn about them.

      You say it’s entirely logical that when Palestine kills a small number of Israelis, Israel should respond by killing a huge number of Palestinians. No it’s not. Do you not think it is BECAUSE of the violence of Israel that Palestine fires its rockets? It is the pattern that people turn to violent resistance once decades of peaceful resistance have been ignored.

      But you are a right winger and therefore you support the bully and claim that *they* are the victim. I don’t support the rockets but you’d be firing them yourself if you had been living under a brutal military occupation since 1948.

    4. Ala says:

      This is not a fiction story:
      Tell me how it feels when an occupation authority (british colonial power) gives me a promise (Balfour promise 1917) they will help me to occupy and settle in your house? this occupation authority had no right to offer me your land or house because they are only colonial power; they offer what they don’t own to me and my people (although I have no right in your land).
      I bring my family, friends, and people I don’t know to occupy your house, then the authority (uk and UN) divide the house in a completely unfair way; I and my people take over everything while you are allowed ONLY ‘part’ of a room; you are not allowed to use any facility or go outside for any reason without my agreement, and if you try to use the kitchen or bathroom in any other time then I torture you, suffocate you, put you in prison for indefinite periods, even Your children will be threatend with death if you resist.
      I go even further to close the only small window you have.
      You start moaning, increasingly becoming unhappy and ultimately & understandably you start making life difficult for me.
      After all The difficulties you suffered, I start making noises and complain why you are revolting against me.
      The same colonial powers carry on supporting me to put more sanctions against you and provide me with all finances and arms to make your familiy’s life like a hell.
      Is it fair?
      This is the bottom line why people hate Israel?! I have Jewish friends really ashamed of the acts of Israeli government.
      Palestinians cause getting more popularity than ever before.
      It’s not in Israel’s interest to create more Hamas and more intifadas. It’s not in Israel’s interest to create the culture for more suicide bombers and more rocket launchers.
      If Palestinians had their own viable state, Israel would never face such hatred. In fact the opposit we may see Israelis and Arabs living in peace long time ago.
      No human being wants to see innocent people (wherever they come from) killed for being from this religion or that or because of their ethnicity or color.
      History cycle will repeat itself, and Israel may find itself in a more difficult position unless their politicians start thinking differently.

      1. Paolo says:

        Thank you…you could have not explained any better. Free Palastine !!!

    5. Matt says:

      It’s not tough – it’s genocide. Israel does not have to get rid of Hamas it’s only objective is to rid Palestine of Palestinians. Israel is a fake state forged out of convenience and misguided sympathy. Even Ron Paul knows that Israel create Hamas to deal with the PLO. Had the the world and the UN realised what a monster it was creating the resolution 181 would have gone very differently in 1948 and the ethnic cleansing and “settlements” would have been avoided. It seems to me that hating people for their nationality is what Israel is all about if you’re Palestinian – and killing children is their way of demonstrating it. That’s why more and more people hate Israel.

    6. Dilwar says:

      Regis, people don’t heat Israel because of the lower casualties. People are opposing Israel because of its racist and inhuman policies. It has unlawfully forced tens of thousands of people out of there homes and into refugee camps in gaza. There is prevents them accessing those things that Israelis and Europeans take for granted. Things such as clean water, food, medical supplies and gas and electricity. It routinely attacks these people and invades their homes, just for the sake of it and classes each and every one of them as terrorists, even children too young to even know what hate is. The west knows of this and still supplies Israel with the arms to do this while turning a blind eye the suffering of the Palestinian people.
      The Palestinian people have every right to defend themselves, and though the ends do not always justify the means, this is the only option available to them. Where as Israel has many a Venus that it will not try.
      To blame Hamas and the Palestinians for this conflict is akin to accusing a woman of assault for fighting back against the man raping her

    7. Kat says:

      They are not hating Israel because it has less casualties genius. They are hating Israel because it’s BOMBARDING CIVILIANS with disproportionate force, because it is targeting children and women, because it’s destroying churches and mosques, and shelling hospitals one after the other after bombing infrastructure, water sources, electricity sources. You think you get the general idea but you DON’T. Those civilians are a result of the Israeli Dahiya doctrine. They are the REAL targets, civilians and civilian infrastructure. Israel thinks that it can turn the people of Gaza against the Hamas resistance movement, but what Israel does is create more solidarity and opens the eyes that have been blinded for DECADES while Palestinians have been slaughtered since European Jews were preparing for the creation of their terrorist state on the land of historic Palestine. Hundreds of massacres took place, ethnic cleansing, grab of land and resources, but now that they lost control of their desire to kill and destroy, they are exposed, and this won’t last long. Free Palestine!

    8. Gulam says:

      People hate Hitler and rightfully so, because he killed a lot of Jews. He wanted a nation of only his own kind of people. Anyone with similar ideas should be locked away for good and not allowed to see the light of day.
      Zionists want a Jewish state, in Palestinian land so, like Hitler, they get rid of, by massacring thousands inhabitants and bringing entire areas down to rubble, of the people they don’t want in their new state. Even though these people lived there for thousands of years!
      Just so people can understand why not to hate the Zionists, can someone tell me what’s right about the Zionist ideology and how it is different from Hitler’s ideas?
      What is right about Israel blockading Gaza to prevent food and medical supplies getting through?
      Allow food and medical supplies freely into Gaza and there would be no need for the tunnels!

    9. Catriona says:

      Hamas is a legally elected government, like them or not. The only way to combat extremism and terrorism in Palestine is to treat the indigenous population, with humanity and dignity equal to the Jewish immigrants who have flocked in since the end of the Second World War.

    10. philippe marcq says:

      Indeed the world hates Israel….I is seen as the main cause of all the trouble in the middle east today, it is seen as a state that never attempted to get itself accepted in a hostile region, that relied on arms, war and the blind support of a superpower half way around the world to oppress and dominate non jews under it’s control, never seeked a solution to a political problem other than by force, who is disingenuous and manipulative and increasingly brutal and repressive…it is seen as racist, mendacious, arrogant and essentially evil….it lives by the sword…it might very well perish by the sword….

  2. John says:

    No, i didn’t forgot GAZA, Gaza is amazing place, even wonderful.
    In last 10 years it controlled by killers, Arabic killers. that kill woman’s and children, in order to kill few Jews.
    Their point is to build underground tunnels, just to get inside Jews gardens and shoot to death there children and family.
    They shoot rockets even they know, it can hit woman’s and children.
    And you know why ? i tell you why… it called Jihad ! “Alla who Acbar”.
    That is what they belive, so … come on, join these animals.
    and cry for their children and destroyed homes.

    1. Abdul samad says:

      You sick twisted pervert. This is the land that Israel illegally occupies the land belongs to Palestinians. I’ll happily shoot you dead to protect my home and family. Hamas are trying to do the same. Go back to the UN designated borders you theifs. Thou shall not steal? Thou shal not kill? Your not Jewish you are a nazi.
      Israel is in breach of númerous international laws it’s a criminal terrorist state.
      The survivers of the holocoust are acting like they are better then the Palestinians. Shame on you

      1. henry Schachter says:

        Oh Abdul, Abdul, keep your shirt on! Your getting very excited ! Save it for when your Islamic Caliphate asks you to blow yourself up in a London underground or some other western target. They will come to you for sure but you may find there are no more virgins left when you go to your idea of heaven as they will all have been taken by similar idiots who went before you.

    2. Friend of gaza says:

      No you imbecille, keep your excessively hateful views to yourself. Maybe you should try being more empathetic.
      Imagine your homes bombed and destroyed, all your family injured and some dead.imagine having to carry the dismembered remains of your children/siblings, blood everywhere, nowhere to go. Imagine the terror and hate and the pain and your wondering why Hamas is throwing rockets. Think about the children in your country dead all injured , their innocent. Why? Your house burning . The pain the terrible pain, would you not throw rockets back?
      This horror has been going on for 48 years, before Hamas , before there was resistance.this is not about protection it an invasion.
      They aren’t hateful creatures you are.
      More Israelis have died in this excursion then ever and you have your government to blame. Israel could destroy these tunnels without civilian casualties as they have one of the the best militaries in the world . This is about depleting the Palestinian population so they can take more land without being out populated.
      Oh and by the way Hamas is a democratically allocated resistance party and aren’t jihadists.

  3. Quincy McIra says:

    Two minor details to clarify. One, Israel is not occupying Gaza, as the caption under one photo states. Israel unilaterally disengaged from Gaza more than 8 years ago. During the ensuing years, the population elected Hamas, who in turn used ten of millions of dollars in aide money to build an terror arsenal (and not to help their people)
    2) If you blame the Israeli military for fighting back, how do you justify the THOUSANDS of missiles launched at Israeli civilians by Hamas? The sole purpose of the Hamas missiles is to kill Israeli civilians. Hamas does not give warning, Hamas does not provide humanitarian cease-fires, and Hamas did not build terror tunnels into Israel in order to deliver flowers.

    1. Abdulahi says:

      Yes they disengaged however Israel still control sea and air, they control everything that goes in and out of the Gaza strip, fishermen can only go a few km out into the sea, the siege must end.

      Question to you now: If the Palestinian people had the freedom any human deserves, would they support a group like Hamas? Would Hamas even exist? Would there be tunnels?

      Israel has been taking land on the West bank, destroying Palestinian homes and building settlements for Israelis violating international laws. Yet Western leaders do not even mention this. On the Gaza strip, as mentioned above, the siege is removing Palestinians human rights.

      I do not support Hamas, however if you remove the rights, the human rights of a person, or persons, they will turn to someone who can make a change. For years Palestinians negotiated with Israel, and it got nowhere. The Palestinians lived as second class citizens, therefore they turned to Hamas.

      Israel must take the lead and force negotiations, however they won’t because they want more land.

      The only way there can be peace is for a ceasefire which includes Israel’s full withdrawal from Gaza strip AND Hamas giving up all weapons to a neutral party + filling all tunnels they have/destroy them (NOT Israel, Hamas must do it). Then Israel to stop the siege on Gaza strip AND for Hamas to dismember.

      That’s my solution to the crisis.

      1. Lynn says:
      2. Steve says:

        You are not mentioning that Jordan expelled Palestinians “as undesriable” as did Syria and Egypt for the same reason. My point being, even thier Muslim “brothers” think they are troublemakers, and want nothing to do the Palestinain people. So why just mention Israel, it’s because of Gaza, where you when Assad expelled 2 million Palestinians or King Abdullah 300,000? Answers on a postcard to: I am selectiove when I ptostest

    2. Laurence Rowe says:

      Israel’s blockade of the tiny Gaza Strip via land, sea and air makes it a prison camp. If it is no longer occupied by Israel, which state do you consider it part of?

      1. Abdulahi says:

        I would consider Gaza part of Palestine along with the West Bank. Before Britain gave Palestinian lands to Jews, it was Palestine. A Nation.

    3. Shaunyboy says:

      For information Israel is still illegally occupying Gaza.
      Here is the video from the UN confirming this fact in 2012.

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KYEjDR6Xpqo

    4. Abdul Subhan says:

      Israel is not occupying Gaza… when will the stupid israelis understand that ISRAEL IS OCCUPYING PALESTINE. You invade someone elses land, take their homes and yet expect them not to say anything back?? Israel wad never a state and still is an illegal state. Palestine will be free soon.

      1. Steve says:

        Er, please read your history, Palestine according to the Bible is in Lebanon and Syria, where Israel is now was called Judea, bit of a give away clue there don’t you think!! Also Judeism is over 5,000yrs old, and the Muslim faith is how old? So who was there first, if you wish to play that game.

    5. Lynn says:

      While it is true Israel “disengaged” from Gaza, it is also true that they then enclosed Gaza in a concentration camp styled fence and completely restricted the movement, commerce, and basic human rights of palestinians. They continued to build illegal settlements, armed settlers, and put forth political dialog thats nurtured the current right-wing racism.

    6. Gulam says:

      Isreal is occupying what was GAZA, check out the historical maps and you will see. If you were denied food, water and medicine, like is the case with the seige on Gaza by Isreal, what would you want to do? How can Isreal live in peace when it deprives Gazans of their basic needs?

    7. justme says:

      It is quite dishonour to suggest that Israel is not occupying Gaza. Yes they do not physically have boots on the ground but they control their land sea and air access. Almost everything that goes in or out is once again controlled by them,hence Hama’s very reasonably demand for the siege to end. Hama’s by the way have a bigger democratic mandate then any western leader currently in power.

      Israel is by all intend and purpose an apartheid state that can only sustain itself through occupation. People in the west are beginning to understand this and I firmly that this latest aggression on Gaza is a game changer. The politicians are far removed from public opinion. Even they cannot continue justifying the death of innocent civilian most notably likely babies.

      And by the way, it wasn’t hamas that kidnapped those settlers even the Israelis have admitted that by now. I hope the BDS movements take momentum and sanctions should not be limited to goods produced in the occupied territories but across three whole country until they abide by international law and norms.

      Finally the two state solution is a fallacy. We must now seriously push for a one state solution in which all citizens are treated equally in the eyes of the law. Israel must seize to be Jewish state and it must allow its citizen to choose whatever faith they want to follow.

      No matter how nice you try to put it, Zionism is a form of apartheid, a system that bestows favour on people based on their identity. Surely this is wrong and unjust. The people who claim Israel’s right to self defence in this case are actually complacent in the murders of all the innocent people in Gaza and the west bank. They’re either directly or indirectly suggesting that Palestinian lives don’t matter, don’t count and by doing so dehumanising them.

    8. minahylgilani says:

      ”Israel is unilaterally disengaged from Gaza since 2008”? that is SOOO not true!!! you seriously need to get your facts straight sister -.- gaza has been under seige since 2008 and their water supply has been cut off!!! hamas did not do that, israel did!! little girls and boys your cousin, your sisters age are just dying!!! please, please i urge u to open ur laptop, take a notebook and do some research, on this matter, watch some documentries,go on wikipedia but dont close ur heart on the palestinians just yet!please

  4. MegHowarth says:

    And the UK abstained on the UNHRC vote, I believe – in line with David’s Cameron hypocrisy over ending arms’ sales to Russia but not to Israel – some £40m since the last Gaza assault in 2008/9.

  5. Danny O'Neill says:

    It is not only Israeli TV stations that are not routinely showing Palestinian casualties. The BBC, unlike Channel 4, ITV news and Sky News, rarely show Palestinian casualties. There is a very good programme to be made about the self censorship of the BBC over the past couple of years and their Gaza coverage has been shamefully one sided. A subject for Dispatches perhaps?

    1. Bryan Sadler says:

      The BBC is worse than that. After a tiring journey on Friday I used iPlayer to look at the news, found Six Oclock (?) News on BBC 1.. To my astonishment, and that of the Newsreader, the Israeli spokesman, a onetime govt minister, made a furious but well argued attack on Israeli govt and its destruction of Gaza. Said they were right wing extremists pushed on by religious zealot parties who would happily see all Palestinians dead and that the solution is negotiation and a withdrawal to 1967 borders. BBC Newsperson looked as if the world was about to end. I then discovered, on trying to watch it again, that the background movie still went through the ‘go to Israel stuff’ but the item had been replace by a nice calm upperclass Englishman bumbling on about a ceasefire. Self censorship or Cameron diktat ?

  6. Sylvia Ismail says:

    TV footage showed PM Netanyahu stating, following the murder of three young Israeli settlers in the West Bank, that Hamas was responsible and Hamas would pay the price. No mention of an investigation, of finding those responsible, or of bringing them to justice. Just a threat of a price to be exacted, presumably in revenge. Yesterday, the BBC’s Jon Donnison quoted an Israeli police source as saying the crime was not committed by Hamas.
    This is why many have no sympathy for Israel: at the very top, there is no concept of justice or the rule of law, simply the knee-jerk call for vengeance followed swiftly by extreme violence, in this case perpetrated against Gaza! Note also that PM Netanyahu’s statements are at times overshadowed by even more extreme speech from ministers in the Israeli Cabinet.

  7. Colin Jones says:

    Thanks Paul,

    But you don’t point out that the very Israeli soldiers you are speaking to, are educated in international military/civilian law by their army, and they are educated when they have to let a terrorist fire at them from amongst civilians to let themselves be killed, and on the other hand when they are instead allowed to fire back to save lives even though civilians will be killed, injured, blown to bits, decimated, traumatized, destroyed, orphaned, etc. [written with retching with revulsion].

    The Israeli army has been educated to take the judgement of murdering civilians to save civilian lives, to its core. No one should be made to make these judgements – there is no right answer – and the rules of law ensure that they should never occur.
    But only the Israeli army is expected to operate by the rules of law in a one-sided gamed of death.

    And sometimes international law allows the murder, killing, injuring, blowing to bits, decimating, traumatizing, pulverization, destroying, orphaning, etc. (I cry as I write this) of innocent civilians (so often innocent children), however terrible and life-destroying this is.

    Do you have to let yourself and you friends be killed, when an un-uniformed fighter fires at you and your comrades from amongst children ?

    How many of your comrades do you let be killed before you can fire back at the fighter firing from amongst children ? What is that number ?

    Until you also ask these questions, you will not have even understood the question the soldier asked you this afternoon.

    [With tears on my cheeks, and revulsion in my stomach at the on-going suffering of the innocent]

    1. Daniel says:

      I hope you are not realy relying on the UN Human Rights Council, A body that for him Asad and Isan r doing good deeds but Israel is the worse nation

  8. Anthony says:

    The same question no doubt could be asked by members of US forces as their government supply even more lethal weaponry to Israel which is used to commit atrocities against the Palestinians. The Israeli population, like those of their benefactor are fed a constant diet of propaganda from their media, CNN, FOX etc, which does not paint a true and unsanitized picture of what is actually going on. Look how Wolf Blitzer always post soft innocuous questions to those folks in authority in Israel and generally acts as a Teleprompter for them so that they can keep on track with their talking points. How on earth can we expect the Israeli soldier who has to do the fighting and dying to understand that the world around have access to other sources and do not have to rely on what the Israeli and US governments/media tries to spoonfeed us with. If the soldiers of Israel were given a true picture of what has been happening to the Palestinians in their own land, I daresay the numbers of objecters to the war in the army would go up. The world in general have no issues with the Jewish people. They are industrious, bright, and extremely kind people who deserve to live in peace. The same cannot be said for their government, who engender hatred for Israel through their criminal actions, ditto for the US.

  9. Gary says:

    This may sound wishy washy but no matter how many bombs Israel drop on Gaza they will not dismantle Hamas as it’s an ideology. Their aggression merely fuels it.

    At least that soldier is questioning himself that is a the key to it.

    1. Abdul Alim says:
  10. James Blake says:

    What people forget to understand is the Israel and the western media call Hamas a terrorist organisation. This is the same media and same country that haven’t been able to give a proper balance news report in the last few weeks.

    Iv lived in the far east and middle east for many years and they call Israel the terrorist nation. They way that Hamas was elected by its people so was Israel. This whole war that has taken place recently has highlighted the fact that we can’t trust what our media say to us. C4 news team are the only ones who reported from inside Gaza unlike the rest who reported from there hotels in Israel.

    My personal opinion is that Hamas is doing what it’s best for its people. They are not doing anything different from the founding fathers of USA, Israel, India and any other nation who fought to free it’s people.

  11. Shi says:

    Israel is UNITED . This WAR is #HAMAS to #Blame , we will will the terror –
    https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=339979716161216&set=vb.100004475712508&type=3&theater

  12. Ali says:

    Hamas fire their rockets from Olive groves, and other open areas in Gaza as you cannot fire these weapons from within densely populated areas. Any YouTube video showing Hamas firing rockets clearly shows this. This lie that Hamas hide behind civilians, is so grotesque in it’s deception, that the world is seeing Israel for what it really is. If Israels justification for attacking Gaza is to protect it’s civilians, then the Palestinians had they had a conventional army, have even more right is attacking all of Israel in order to protect it’s civilian population, because it is that Palestinians who are under a brutal occupation and not the Israelis. It is Palestinian children who need protection from Israeli soldiers, who routinely beat and shoot children on an almost daily basis. There is no even handed argument in a conflict that is not at all even handed, and those justifying these crimes seriously need to question their own sense of morality.

  13. Az khan says:

    131Israel children killed by Palestine and 1716 Palestinian children killed by israel since sept 2000.
    1156 Israelis killed by Palestine and at least 78100 killed Palestinians by israel.
    8600 Israelis injured and 62201 injured Palestinians.
    Us military aid to israel 8.5 million dollars per day, military aid to Palestine 0 dollars per day.
    Israel targeted by 77 un resolutions, palestine targeted by only 1 un resolution.
    0 Israelis being held prisoner by Palestine, while 6000 Palestinians are imprisoned by israel.
    0 Israeli homes demolished by Palestine, at least 28000 Palestinian homes demolished by israel since 1967.
    Israel currently has 262 only Jewish settlements and outposts on confiscated Palestinian land. Palestine do not have any settlements on Israeli land.

    1. Alan J says:

      At last, some FACTS! It is NOT true that the Israeli population supports these actions. As in the UK, people with free minds who care don’t get TV coverage unless it portrays fringe violence. I know PLENTY of Israel citizens who are thoroughly ashamed that this is being done in their name!

  14. Mark Fine says:

    Can I ask what is being shown on Palestinian TV and social media? Are they still showing children’s programmes which demonise all Jews? Are their media still publishing the vile anti semitic propaganda they usually pump out? Is this irrelevant or is it only Israel that gets this scrutiny and criticism.

    1. Anonymous says:

      Well, are they?

    2. terry says:

      I am not Anti Jewish and not anti semetic (Arabs are semites too). I don’t agree with Zionism and I am sorry what the Nazis did. However it is clear that the Goverment of Isreal and the army are killing civilians and I hate that.

      With the media – channel 4 and others being there it is difficult to butcher people and expect the world not to comment. In 1948 when the ethnic cleansing of hundreds of Palestinian villages started, there were no media seeing what was going on to report the events. This time its different the world won’t forget – too many dead kids in Gaza

  15. SHEIKH says:

    Israeli-an killed innocent’s its unforgeable

  16. Florence says:

    Brilliant Jon!
    What are the real purpuses behind all that?
    Palestine, Afganistan, Irak…I have the feeling all is about money and POWER. Men behind all the big décisions in the high spheres, are playing a video game for real and we are just ators whom they do what ever they want with us, not caring at all of civilian casualties to reach their goal. A human life, even a Young one, doesn’t seem to be important, THEY HAVE TO SCORE.
    I feel very used, abused and useless….

  17. Ron says:

    Because this is what Israeli soldiers are confronted with: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=10203329992064032

  18. Sarah says:

    The whole problem with Israel is that the state created after WW2 was made ilegally and on the back of the allies guilt because they didn’t act sooner to prevent the treatment of the european jews. The allies evicted the Palestinans from their homes to house Jews, in much the same way jews were evicted by the SS in Germany.
    You throw people out of their homes, demolish their new homes because they have the cheek to elect a government you don’t agree with. Hamas were elected in Gaza, now how do you fight back when there are guns at your shore, guns at you back & on both sides, you resort to guerilla warfare. No I am not advocating this as a good option but I can understand why they do it. Now the rich jews in the UK & USA have their influence with the politicians in those countries and Jews have also hijacked the hollocaust, you would think only jews were killed by hitler, it seems the roma, disabled, black, gay, christian and any other non nazi didn’t count the way the holoocaust is reported, although it has got a little better in the past few years.

    Anyway – why do the world hate the Israeli’s you use guns, tanks, reinforced bulldozers to destroy the homes of people who have lived in the area for generations before you turned up, you don’t care who you kill in order to get a piece of land, unfortunately your actions seem more in line with the ethnic clensing practiced by Hitler than with a modern state trying to protect itself.

    Hamas – the elected part has to be given its place as they are the elected representatives of the people of Gaza, the militants with the guns have to be convinced to put down their guns, simliar to the IRA but when both the jewish and muslim religions both believe that an “eye for an eye” is the way forward you’ll be doomed. The phrase Allah akkbar means God is Great, I’d bet he is demented at these 2 Abrahamic religions trying to kill each other.

    Answers. The Israeli’s have to rein in the fundamentalist jewish settlers, The Palestinian’s have to hope they will get some freedom and also need to stop the idiots with the rocket launchers.
    The Amercians and British need to stop being frightened of the rich jewish people who fund their political parties, the jewish people who live in the western world need to go and live in Gaza before condemming all the people there.
    Israel believes itself to be a persecuted state but continually breaks international law.
    I just wish the powers of the world would stop supplying weapons to idiots – hamas idiots, israeli governments, ukrainian “freedom” fighters – 100 years since the start of WW1 and nothing has changed.
    I hope the world don’t start WW3 with all the stupidity in the world but I do wonder if thats exactly what the politicians expect. I won’t say want as only idiots want war.
    30 years ago I was watching TV with my now dead grandpa and he said they should drop a neuclear bomb on jerusalem and that would sort out the arguments about who owned the city muslim, jew or christian. A very drastic solution (which probably wouldn’t work) but I wonder sometimes if he was right.

  19. wayne bennett says:

    Pure and simple democracy does not belong in the middle east blame the yanks for that,stealing land from Palestine to create Israel was wrong on so many levels the violence will never stop, still stealing land as we speak, Israel is an embarassment to the jewish people

  20. Esther says:

    Paul, in your interview with Hamas spokesman Ihab al-Ghousein at the Shifa Hospital in Gaza, he denied that the Hamas organisation is using civilians as human shields. However, you must know that Hamas’ HQ is in a bunker complex situated under that hospital. Hence his easy availability there for your interview. By definition therefore, Hamas is using all of the doctors, nurses and patients at Shifa Hospital as “human shields”. Why don’t you put that to him, if you get another chance?

  21. Ben says:

    As usual the villains escape identification. It isn’t Israel or Israelis, but Zionists, those committed to the politic. Zionism isn’t loyal to Israel nor the Israeli people. Theirs is as genocidal as those claiming to represent the people of Palestine. As long as the media allows the deception of confusing Israel with Zionism, little understanding will ever be reached.

  22. Anon says:

    Benjamin Netanyahu is doing what Ariel Sharon (his quote is below, such an evil man, It makes me wonder if he was the second hitler) was doing and I’m so pleased that channel 4 news are televising the truth, keep it up.

    “I vow that I’ll burn every Palestinian child that will be born in this area. The Palestinian woman and child are more dangerous than the man, because the Palestinian child’s existence infers that generations will go on…”
    Arial Sharon

  23. Alfie-Doolittle says:

    Mr. Mason,
    The Israeli government and the IDF are victims of their own success in indoctrination & propaganda. Israel’s grand plan to create “facts on the ground” by bringing in highly motivated settlers to the occupied territory with the goal of being able to extract large concession in any possible peace negotiation was executed so well that those settlers and their small minority representatives who help Likud form a government have become too powerful to ignore. Anyone who understands that part of the Israeli society knows that the return to the 67 borders will mean civil war to Israel. NuttyYahoo understands this and also understands that any movement in that direction means the end of his coalition government.

    Also, the IDF and the government have also waged a propaganda campaign in which many, IDF members included, buy their own propaganda. Nearly 40 percent of Israel is in favor of a two state solution and the majority of the left are against the current policies. I read quite often open and honest debates in Israeli papers the like of which do NOT exist anywhere among mainstream US media. The fact that this soldier and 60 plus percent of Israel is unaware of the debate is indicative of a powerful, sustained and remarkably successful campaign with overtones of fear and guilt that makes that segment completely insulated not just from world opinion but also from the opinions of the defeated, passive but still sizable left in Israel itself.

    http://www.timesofisrael.com/pmo-stealthily-recruiting-students-for-online-advocacy/

    http://www.smh.com.au/it-pro/government-it/israeli-propaganda-war-hits-social-media-20140717-ztvky.html

    http://www.jpost.com/Israel/Israels-newest-PR-weapon-The-Internet-Megaphone

    http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3281619,00.html

    Perhaps in your next conversation with another bewildered IDF member, you may leave the “illumination” to members of the Israel left who have done far better than you or I can do: You may suggest that he read “Reporting from Ramalah” by Israeli journalist Amira Hass. Google other Israeli journalists like Gideon Levy, Uri Blau; the Israeli Group Human Right Groups “Breaking the Silence” and B’Tselem; or Miko Peled, an Israeli General’s son, all saying things nobody in US media or Congress would ever have the courage to say.

    http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jun/08/israel-soldiers-speak-out-brutality-palestine-occupation

    http://mic.com/articles/50173/4-brave-israeli-voices-against-the-occupation

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=etXAm-OylQQ#t=1686

  24. Ronit Nigrekar says:

    Paul, I wish your country and others will get very soon the “gifts” which u deserve from your upgoing minority population. All muslims living in your countries will give a lesson what is Jihad but I am sure then also you will find reasons to blame Israel.

    The soldier who asked u that question meant to say, the people, especially from Europe, who killed or helped to kill 6 million jews just 70 years ago, able to blame, again the jews. I want to see your country sends flowers to the terrorists who killed your child or mom or dad.

    My country and my religion worships the life and not death, therefore, my country and my people try to find the technologies to defend ourselves as we know that u wont come to help us. Hamas and other terrorists like Iran spend billions of dollars on weapon and tunnels just to murder jews instead of investing in education, again to love the life and not to kill the jews as hamas shows today to their childred, to invest in hospitals, women and making efforts to build economy.

    Hope to come across again to your report very soon, again blaming Israel.

  25. Tom Austin says:

    Where have all the Palestinians in the Gaza strip and the West Bank come from?
    Did they always live cheek by jowl?
    Have they never known work?

    The land on which they lived and farmed for many generations has been stolen, their freedom of movement tightly controlled, their right to work and to prosper has been denied them.

    What crime have the people of Palestine committed?
    What was it that caused the branch of the tree of life that sported the Palestinians to crash to the ground, so that their lives are worth less that a dog?

    Soldier, it was you.

    1. henry Schachter says:

      Tom Austin, “where did all these Palestinians come from”??

      They have been deliberately left to breed by the bucket full by their Arab Brothers and fed by the United nations, with nothing to do but pass on hatred from one generation to the other.
      Israel on the other hand absorbed the same amount of Jewish refugees from Arab countries and made them into useful citizens. TWAT

  26. Sam says:

    Really good piece on Gaza. Freedom for gaza someday and palestinians

  27. Madonna says:

    Before this attack i did not hate Israel, i was even shocked at people saying nasty thing about Israel but now after 2 weeks of being subjected to horrific pictures of dismembered children and the cold and agressive comments of israelis and pro-israel people over the net i can without an ounce of shame or doubt say that i truly hate Israel and sionism and i do not care about its future anymore. Whay they will get out of this is even more retaliation and they will never ever experiment peace. Their leaders (voted by the people) don’t understand that they are surrounded by arab countries and this will never change, they have more in common with arab countries , historically and geographically than with the USA. There will never be peace in the middle east EVER until israelis say ENOUGH to the right wing that is as crazy as Hamas and muslim fundamentalists.
    I don’t understand people who are still defending this barbaric attacks and i wish i will never because it will my heart would have rot just like theirs.
    Until the day i’ll be able to love Israel again i’m just gonna hate it from now on.

  28. Dj Footprint says:

    Thank You Paul – and your Crew, for remaining in the War-Zone (no Iron-Dome there to protect the civilians and yourselves) – and giving us the true, fuller picture, whilst numerous other ‘News’ / ‘Journalists’ paint a completely and biased view – kow-towing to the shrill Zionist doctrine that emanates from Israel and the U.S.

    Stay safe – and Thank You.

  29. wedinakfa says:

    No Idon’t hate the Israelis or Jewish people but I hate Zionists; to me they represent what Hitler represented at the same time how do you expect occupied poeple their right violated over a million people coralled in such a small place, they could not till thier land, they could not travel, they could not have daily normal life as any human would like to live for all this ills is the zionist people the likes of Nathanyahu and co.
    so as people I respect jewish, moslem but what is being doen from both side is deplorable, Isael can be going on like this by bomabarding them fromthe sea, air and land where would this poor souls hide from the two factions (zionist and Islamists).

  30. Tom says:

    Quite ironic that the article takes an extract from the jp to show biased reporting. Channel 4 has been truly shocking in reporting nothing but their reporters opinions. Not fact, not neutral. Jon snow , miller and you have shown no understanding of this conflict but an agenda. Not seen any c4 reporter on twitter or likewise mention once- rocket into israel or shown clear video of rockets fired from schools. Get a grip channel 4 it’s become embarrassing – might be time to bring you Infront of the UN for spreading propaganda.

  31. usiba says:

    peace is the best option.we all are human beings weather Hamas or israelians . so don no why we didnt respect each other.

  32. claire says:

    Seriously? The comments on this blog are absurd! Trying to defend israel for attacking the civilian population for whatever reason- it is not right!!!! To kill over 1000 people in less than a month and injure 6000 people is not defence!! It is racial cleansing!! The world has witnessed the truth despite the lies of israel. The reality is this is a human rights issue- not a religious one that israel & the west want people to believe (due to Islamophobia)… Hence, Christians, Buddhists, Hindu’s, Muslims and Atheists all feel strongly about Gaza’s freedom and for israel to be held in account for the massacre in Palestine!!!

  33. Buchanan says:

    Hello,

    The bit I don’t understand is the justification given by Isreal for attacking civilians.
    How does it justify to bomb hospitals, schools, market places/ shopping place.
    Isreal knows exactly where there will more civilians casualtys.
    It is war crimes what Isreal is doing and it has been done war crimes for many many years. As every one knows Isreal will get backing from all power – full nations support.
    UN is a gimmick . Nothing has been done since illegal occupation of Palastine land.
    Let’s be honest there very limited food, medicine, and other items can go into the world biggest prison.
    Palastine people are in a prison.
    Another thing I don’t understand is why are Jews protesting against the attacks on Palastine people , could it be that they know Palastine people are the victim rouge Isreal state.

  34. Friio says:

    You can’t look at casualties alone. If it wasn’t for the Iron Dome, Hamas would have flattened Israel a long time ago. I am not justifying Israeli rockets, but they have every right to defend themselves. Nevertheless, Israel should reduce their rocket fire and escalate ground operations to reduce civilian casualties

  35. Lilah says:

    What does this dispatch from an element of the Israeli population’s mindset reveal?

    blogs.timesofisrael.com/explaining-the-israel-bashers-ignorance-the-failure-to-imagine-and-anti-semitism/

  36. Sean Clinton says:

    “We must finidh the job” – not the words of a Zionist mob in Tel Aviv, but from the president of the London Diamond Bourse, Harry Levy. The jewellery industry has a lot fingers in this bloody pie. Diamonds are Israel’s No.1 export commodity and a major source of funding for the Israeli military and the war crimes in Gaza. Until the jewellery industry breaks its silence about the trade in Israeli blood diamonds Israel wil continue to enjoy the political and economic impunity that facilitates its criminal actions in Palestine. Google” Israeli blood diamonds” for a lot more info.

  37. sede says:

    This may sound crazy, but how is this situation different from what the ‘jihadist’ has been doing all over the world. I feel the only way out is the Muslim leaders in the world to call to order the suicide bombers and the jihadist. I have been praying daily for an end to the senseless killing going on, and was happy when I heard about the ceasefire. Only to be disillusioned when Hamas resumed and Israel follow suit. I shed tears as a mother, while watching a programme in which children talked about how ‘dying ‘ is ‘better’ than this world. That they have been told and believe that jihad is a good thing and they only live to see the day they will kill. I watched a father proudly saying he will gladly sacrifice his only 12yr-old son anytime, and the son agreeing. Now, when God tested Abraham faith this way, He provided a ram at the last minute for such future thoughts. God however, knowing the human needs for sacrifice, sent us His own son to represent all other sacrifices. If people ‘s wish is to die and, unfortunately they met those who are ready to oblique, why apportion blame. I am not in favour of any kind of killing and wish, with all my heart that those producing these weapons would stop. So, no weapons, fair fight with fist, so only the two people involved will face each other, and not innocent and vulnerable people. For people hiding behind bunkers to be ordering the death of so many is an unfair situation. And don’t be deceived that they are fighting for you, it’s all about ego and stupid pride. Nobody will win this or any war. Just ask the families affected.

  38. Sean Clinton says:

    “We must finish the job” – not the words of a Zionist mob in Tel Aviv, but from the president of the London Diamond Bourse, Harry Levy. The jewellery industry has a lot fingers in this bloody pie. Diamonds are Israel’s No.1 export commodity and a major source of funding for the Israeli military and the war crimes in Gaza. Until the jewellery industry breaks its silence about the trade in Israeli blood diamonds Israel wil continue to enjoy the political and economic impunity that facilitates its criminal actions in Palestine. Google” Israeli blood diamonds” for a lot more info.

  39. Chaz says:

    This is nothing but a Humane way of Cutting out a Cancer which befalls Gaza…If Palestinian Leadership were more concerned with building a community of fellowship among their people and their neighbors instead of arming and then issuing terror orders to Local Tribal Leaders…you wouldn’t be in the hell your in..Magnoon..what about the use of children and schools and hospitals..Where are your Leaders..hiding?..Lining their pockets with Aid Money?…They will Never Change!

  40. Chaz says:

    I understand what your eyes see and the tune your heart hears..but is it worth it to go back home , only to face more missile strikes and infiltration at all hours if the Day or Night? …?
    ..

  41. Carl says:

    The world doesn’t hate Israel, the world hates Jews.

    Walk a mile in an another mans shoes before you decide to hate him.
    Thousands of years of persecution from all around the world. On this thread, references to Jew owned media, governments and conspicuous in its absence ‘banks’.

    Israel is surrounded by countries that want to see it and it’s people wiped of the face of the earth. Do you think allowing free movement of the Palestinians will increase or decrease the possibility of suicide bombers detonating themselves all over Tel Aviv.

    A lot of people like to say ‘you’d throw rockets too. We’ll walk the mile in a Jew’s shoes and while you won’t condone the killing of innocent civilians, will feel sadness at the pictures of children dying and families destroyed, you may understand why Jews fight fire with fire, hate with hate.

  42. Tom Austin (TWAT) says:

    Dystopia welcomes careful drivers?

    “The world doesn’t hate Israel, the world hates Jews.”

    Some here appear to be getting their arguments by running vinyl records backwards, or by turning books upside down.

    As crazy as it may sound, the truth is plain to see.

    The fountainhead of ‘hate’ is Zionism, it runs from their every pore.
    Their minds are so transfixed by hatred that it is all they can see when they look-out from themselves.

    The world at large is more ‘horrified’ than anything else.

    Only the other day, as I was posting on this subject elsewhere, I gave a link to an organisation of Orthodox Judaism, only to be accused by one of these semi-professional genocide apologists, of linking to a ‘Jew hating bunch of Nazis’.
    I’ll try it again here…

    http://www.nkusa.org/

  43. abdul says:

    I just wana say one fng to all the people supporting israel.. how wud u feel if I forced myslf onto your house n kicked u out? What wud u do? If you react by fighting me to try and get back your house will you be in the wrong?
    Wake up people..israel was never a state and are illegally occupying Palestine. Stop blaming palestinians for trying to get back what rightly belongs to them.

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