Don't Set a Double Standard for Israel on Norms of War

(Washington Post) Natan Sharansky - One would be hard-pressed to find an Israeli who does not sympathize with the suffering of Gaza's victims. Yet there are also few Israelis who feel we are responsible for this suffering. For us, the tragedy of Gaza is inseparable from the tragedy of the entire Middle East. Over the past three years, in countries around our tiny state, more than a quarter of a million people have been killed in the most horrific ways. The only border at which the savagery stops is Israel's. Hamas and Hizbullah are doing their best to change this. So what protects us? The UN or human rights groups? No. Only the military power of the Israel Defense Forces. In response to our enemies' relentless campaigns, the army is constantly developing new ways to defend us. One new weapon, Iron Dome, has in the past few weeks protected civilians from almost 3,000 missiles. The sad irony, then, is that while the world can do so little to stop the terror in Syria or Sudan, it can do a lot to press Israel to stop defending itself. We ask ourselves, is this hypocrisy? Is this a betrayal by the free world whose values we are defending? 12 years ago, during the Second Intifada, I was a member of the Israeli security cabinet when the army first decided to use aviation to target terrorist leaders. In nearly every cabinet meeting, Israel's attorney general insisted that our targets must be chosen not on the basis of crimes already committed, but solely in light of proof that they were planning new terrorist acts. In other words, no matter how much death and destruction someone had caused, a targeted killing could be justified only by documented intentions to carry out another attack. Now that targeted killings are practically the norm - when the U.S. uses drones for this purpose all over the world - I would hope others are as scrupulous as Israel has been. Before the IDF bombs an area in Gaza, residents are alerted by radio, e-mail, phone and text message telling them to leave. The Israeli army also uses small warning missiles to let civilians know that a real missile will soon be fired. Do other free countries go to similar lengths?

2014-08-18 00:00:00

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