When asked why that elderly woman was killed, a squad commander was quoted as saying: “What’s great about Gaza — you see a person on a path, he doesn’t have to be armed, you can simply shoot him. In our case it was an old woman on whom I did not see any weapon when I looked. The order was to take down the person, this woman, the minute you see her. There are always warnings, there is always the saying, ‘Maybe he’s a terrorist.’ What I felt was, there was a lot of thirst for blood.” [...]
Amir Marmor, a 33-year-old history graduate student in Jerusalem and a military reservist, said in an interview with The New York Times that he was stunned to discover the way civilian casualties were discussed in training discussions before his tank unit entered Gaza in January. “Shoot and don’t worry about the consequences,” was the message from the top commanders, he said. Speaking of a lieutenant colonel who briefed the troops, Mr. Marmor said, “His whole demeanor was extremely gung ho. This is very, very different from my usual experience. I have been doing reserve duty for 12 years, and it was always an issue how to avoid causing civilian injuries. He said in this operation we are not taking any chances. Morality aside, we have to do our job. We will cry about it later.”
One doesn’t know the extent of these things, but both of the people speaking here are describing orders that were given to groups of people, not just individual instances of bad conduct. Needless to say, there are atrocities and war crimes associated with every war, so there’s no indication that this was any worse than any other military’s conduct. But by the same token, there are atrocities and war crimes associated with every war. A lot of the stateside supporters of this Israeli action seemed completely blind to that reality, as they imagined the IDF somehow stepping pristinely through the most densely populated place on earth and perfectly plucking out Hamas villains rather than, say, gunning down old ladies. That, however, is not the way of the world. And the result is a military operation that’s responsible for orders of magnitude more civilians deaths than were the rocket attacks it was supposedly going to put a stop to.
Next up, we’ll see if the new Netanyahu/Lieberman era of Israeli politics leads to any serious inquiries into these allegations with accountability for the culpable. I wouldn’t say I’m optimistic about that, but it could happen.