Civilian Casualties of War: The Difference Between Israelis and Palestinians

by | Aug 1, 2002 | Middle East & Israel, WORLD

Where was the repellent UN human rights chief Mary Robinson, who denounced the bombing as the "reckless killing of civilians," when Israelis were mourning their dead children?

On July 24, the New York Times ran a horrific picture of a dead two-month-old child wrapped in the Palestine flag on its front page. The death was a result of the Israeli bombing attack that killed Hamas leader Salah Shehada in Gaza City, which also took the lives of 14 civilians. It was an explicit and distressing image, revealing the deplorable realties of war and the repercussions suffered by innocent bystanders; in this case, civilians who were utilized as shields by the leader of one of the world’s most merciless terrorist organizations. Unfortunately, the New York Times‘ Middle East agenda is such that we will never see a similar shot of dead Israeli children — who, unlike Palestinian children, are deliberately targeted.

Shehada was the leader of Hamas’ terrorist military wing and genius mastermind behind the Palestinians’ policy of dispatching brainwashed religious fanatics, snuggly fit with high explosives, into Israeli population centers to blow themselves up. An Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman said that Shehada “was personally responsible for orchestrating attacks against hundreds of civilians over the past two years.” Shehada hid like a true coward among his own family, in a densely populated apartment building in Gaza, banking on Israeli restraint.

Israel’s security officials, meanwhile, said that Shehada was in the process of planning a massive wave of terrorist attacks against civilians. Not surprising, as Hamas ” will not rest …until we see Zionist body parts in every restaurant, bus stop, buses and sidewalk.” The Israeli government said that the IDF had been targeting Shehada for some time, and had canceled previous attempts to strike at him because of innocent bystanders.

Nine of Hamas’ recent attacks under Shehada, including the Dolphinarium nightclub, the Park Hotel and Sbarros massacres, killed a total of 151 Israelis, including numerous children. The intended targets of these operations were civilians — not one of the murdered was “collateral damage.” Shehada’s pending campaign included a plan to rig a truck with 600 kilograms of explosives to blow up the recently constructed Gush Katif bridge, the sole route used by hundreds of Israelis daily to travel to and from their communities.

Where was the repellent UN human rights chief Mary Robinson, who denounced the bombing as the “reckless killing of civilians,” when Israelis were mourning their dead children? Her commission was busy voting to condone suicide bombings as a legitimate means to establish Palestinian statehood. While president of Ireland, she pressed for European Union aid to the Palestinian Authority, despite evidence that the money was being siphoned to terror groups. Eventually, at least $9 million of that money ended up helping finance terror attacks.

Perhaps, if the UN had taken even token action against Palestinian terror, instead of coddling and rationalizing it, this type of preemptive exercise would be unnecessary. But instead, in its customary approach, the UN Security Council convened an emergency meeting on the situation in the Modest on Thursday for the sole purpose of condemning Israel. The United States said it would take part in a UN Security Council debate on a Gaza raid, but only reluctantly, and indicated it would oppose any UN resolution — always an intelligent choice.

The latest proposed UN condemnation against “the continued Israeli military aggression against the Palestinian people and the Palestinian Authority” doesn’t lower itself to mention deadly attacks against Israeli civilians.

Despite US support in the UN, President Bush was reportedly upset at the damage done and that the Israeli military used an American-made F-16 jet to drop a laser-guided bomb into a densely packed neighborhood. “This heavy-handed action does not contribute to peace,” White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said. Fleischer then dismissed any equivalence between the air strike in Gaza and the U.S. bombings in Afghanistan — never mind Dresden, Hiroshima, Baghdad or Serbia — that had taken civilian lives.

Israel Radio quoted Ariel Sharon as confiding to aides in a closed meeting that “Israel did not know that there were civilians in Shehada’s house. Had it known this, it would have found another way to hit him.” The problem is that Israeli military action will be instantly condemned as a war crime, and needless to say, Israel does not need to enter the Gaza strip, imperiling the lives of its soldiers to arrest a degenerate murder like Shehada when a warplane can take care of business.

But the manifest moral disparity between the two sides of this conflict can be seen through the aftermath of the bombing. In Israel, citizens mourn for the loss of life, they have acknowledged their disgust at civilian casualties of war. The government will certainly launch an investigation into the events. Were the situation reversed, Palestinians would take to the streets to cheer the death of Jewish children, as they have so often before.

David Harsanyi has written on culture, politics and sports for Capitalism Magazine, National Review, Weekly Standard, New York Press, Associated Press, CNN-SportsIllustrated, FrontPage Magazine, Tech Central Station, Israel National News & numerous other publications. Visit his website (

The views expressed above represent those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the editors and publishers of Capitalism Magazine. Capitalism Magazine sometimes publishes articles we disagree with because we think the article provides information, or a contrasting point of view, that may be of value to our readers.

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