Fatten the Lambs UPDATE: Israeli Airstrikes Kill At Least 155 in Gaza

by matttbastard

Following up on this post from a couple weeks ago, Reuters reports that Israel has finally opened the border to Gaza, allowing vital humanitarian aid to enter the Hamas-controlled occupied territory:

Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak said he ordered Gaza crossings opened for essential humanitarian supplies in response to numerous requests from the international community.

The deliveries could ease tensions that might have led to military action to end rocket attacks, though in the past Israel has allowed Gaza to resupply with vital goods before launching assaults.

Which, according to Haaretz, once again appears to be the case:

On Sunday, the prime minister will hold a series of consultations ahead of a possible military action in the Strip. No major move will apparently be made until these discussions have concluded.

In statements Thursday, senior security officials were unwavering. “Anyone who harms Israeli citizens and soldiers will pay the price,” Defense Minister Ehud Barak said.


Israel is planning a relatively short operation that will cause maximum damage to Hamas “assets.” The defense establishment says the operation would not necessarily limit itself to stopping rocket launches and that during the operation, daily massive rocket launches can be expected. Hamas might fire rockets with a range beyond the 20 kilometers it has used so far.


The sources warned that an Israeli ground operation would result in many civilian casualties in Gaza, especially in the refugee camps.

So. Allow aid to flow, then (reluctantly) cash in a blood debt by liquidating civilians Hamas assets. A cynic might say that the lambs are being fattened before the slaughter.

Update 12.27: And so it begins:

At least 155 Palestinians have been killed in an Israeli aerial bombardment on Hamas security installations.

Israel launched air attacks across the besieged Gaza Strip on Saturday, threatening that further operations would be carried out later in the day.

Witnesses reported heavy damage as at least 30 missiles were fired on the targets.

Emergency services said that at least 200 people were also wounded.


The Israel army released a statement saying “terrorist installations” were hit and that all Israeli pilots returned unharmed.

The operation against the Hamas is “only just beginning,” Avi Benayahu, an Israeli military spokesman said.

h/t Sylvia/M

Update 2: Laura Rozen:

I asked former Israeli peace negotiator Daniel Levy, currently in Israel, why, while recognizing the pressure on the Israeli government to do something about the rockets from Gaza hitting southern Israel the past weeks, did Israeli officials choose to strike Hamas security facilities at midday when they were full of people, with high loss of life and almost certain dramatic escalation of the conflict? “I do not fully understand why they went for such a disproportionate escalation,” Levy writes. “My guess: a combination of electioneering and misplaced wishful thinking that this will push the Arabs/world to intervene and downsize Hamas on terms favorable to Israel ….[This] won’t happen – certainly not in a sustainable way. By the way, Hamas probably thinks this will cause intervention on terms favorable to themselves – also misguided (though less so; long term, this helps Hamas is my guess).

Also via Rozen, Haaretz: “Hamas chief vows third Intifada has come”:

Hamas Political Leader in Damascus Khaled Meshal threatened revenge attacks after a series of Israel Air Force attacks left at least 230 dead and hundreds more wounded in Gaza, saying “the time for the third Intifada has come.”

Meshal issued a call to Palestinians in the West Bank to carry out suicide attacks against Israeli targets and to attack Israel Defense Forces soldiers.

“This Intifada will be peaceful for the Palestinians but lethal for the Zionist enemy,” Meshal said, adding that this ‘new Intifada,’ will “rescue Gaza and protect the West Bank.”


A Hamas spokesman on Saturday vowed the group would not surrender in the face of IDF attacks in the Gaza Strip, and that Israel would not break its “resistance to the occupation.”

The spokesman added that Hamas would not “raise a white flag” of surrender and would respond with all means available at its disposal.

Well. That should suit certain hardline quarters in (what is likely to be) Israel’s next government just fine.

Recommend this post at Progressive Bloggers

20 thoughts on “Fatten the Lambs UPDATE: Israeli Airstrikes Kill At Least 155 in Gaza

  1. What’d you expect? Hamas didn’t renew the cease fire. At least Israel let in supplies yesterday, all Hamas did was fire two Qassams short, killing two young girls in Beit Lahiya and injuring another five Palestinians.

    They’ve managed to kill more of their own this week with Qassams, mortars, and Grads, but that apparently isn’t enough to stop them from trying it.

    Israel targeted Hamas installations. Let’s see how Hamas responds with their targets. I’ll bet they target civilians.


  2. There is little to no difference, morally, between Hamas firing rockets blindly at Israeli towns and the IDF firing missiles into densely packed population centres (whether Hamas op-sites or not) with the full knowledge that said missiles will undoubtedly kill civilians.

    To put forward such lines of argument (and give them central importance) is an intentional distraction from the reality of the conflict and the plight of Palestinians in Gaza.

    IMHO, of course.


  3. Thanks, mattt! You might not hear from me very often, but your blog is on my “read daily” list, so I’m always lurking in the shadows. A return to blogging might be in my future, it depends on how this semester goes.


  4. Actually, Daev, just war theory and morality states that one can enact military operations in which one believes civilians will die so long as the civilians are not the target and they are not overwhelmingly killed. What this means is that striking Hamas targets in Gaza City, even when civilian casualties are foreseen, meets just war criteria because civilians aren’t the target, Hamas is.

    Conversely, intentionally attacking civilians and refusing to distinguish between civilian and military targets (as Hamas does) clearly violates just war criteria.

    The plight of Palestinians in Gaza is not solely dependent on Israel, and to act like it is is a distraction from the fact that Hamas took over the entire strip violently, continues to castigate political dissenters there, and monopolizes Gaza’s resources while using civilians as human shields.

    Placing your op sites in civilian centers simply asks for your civilians to be killed.


  5. Where to start with DaveNJ?

    The Israelis targeted Gaza police training sites. They hit one where a group of new recruits were just graduating. Those police are needed if Gaza is ever to be a safe place for anyone.

    This was sheerly perverse, and aggressive war is a war crime.


  6. Gaza police training sites ignores the fact that they were Hamas training sites. Gaza is not the same as Hamas, and given that Hamas is the ruler of Gaza and is at war with Israel Israel attacked Hamas facilities. Those police enforce the rule of a party at war with Israel, and if Gaza is ever going to be a safe place it needs to give up this futile war with Israel. Those same police were the ones throwing Fatah members off of buildings last year.

    If aggressive war is a war crime where is your condemnation of hundreds of rockets and mortars fired this week? It seems to me a defensive operation, given that they asked Hamas to stop the fire this week and Hamas did not.

    Yes, Hamas was elected? So what? Israel’s government was elected, too, so what’s your point? being elected doesn’t give a government the right to commit acts of terror like repeated Qassam rocket fire. It also doesn’t mean Hamas wants peace, or is the Palestinians’ best chance for peace.


  7. Ah. “Collateral damage.”

    Carte blanche for militaries’ reckless disregard for human life the world over. So convenient, so sanitary.

    “Just war” theory, I am not interested in. War is many things, but none of them have anything to do with justice. And any theory which posits that civilians are expendable so long as they are not “targeted” by military operations (but *will* die nonetheless) is vulgar and obscene. End of story.

    No one here is defending the targetting of civilians by Hamas. I, nor anyone else, has spoken any words of support for Qassam rocket attacks or suicide bombings (there, did I perform the obligatory apologetics properly?). However, the plight of Palestinians in Gaza is almost entirely dependent on Israel – or haven’t you noticed Israel’s ability to blockade Gaza from the land, sea, and air? The occupation never really ended. “Defensive operation” my bum.


  8. “I, nor anyone else, has spoken any words of support for Qassam rocket attacks or suicide bombings” should read “Not I, nor anyone else, has…”

    “targetting” = “targeting”

    Proofread, Daev, proofread.


  9. So let me understand: Gaza is still occupied due to border closures, and therefore no action taken against Gaza can be defensive? Gaza also shares a border with Egypt, and both Israel and Egypt wish to contain Hamas because of its rampant terrorism and radical message. Again, the Palestinians in Gaza have a right to their territory, but Israel has the right to enact defensive measures due to the fact that Gaza has been taken over by terrorists. Elected terrorists, but terrorists.

    Look, if you’re not willing to bear any principles of war that allow for any civilian casualties then there’s no point in me arguing with you. You find any civilian casualties intolerable, which may make you feel good, but your philosophy is impractical, and devoid of applicability. Just war theory makes it clear that civilians aren’t to be ignored, and you have to take all reasonable measures to protect them, but what do you expect Israel to do when Qassams are fired from populated zones?

    All your first link shows is good military strategy on the part of Israel. When they broadcast where they are going to attack or drop leaflets, something few nations would do knowing the targets are likely to flee, the targets obviously flee. Hamas ended the truce, they were at war, they just weren’t prepared to deal with the consequences.

    As for the mosque and the TV station, I know very little about what was in the mosque. Maybe it was a misfire or maybe it was an arms cache/recruitment station. Mosques are buildings, and can serve more than one purpose. If it served a military purpose for Hamas it is a legitimate military target.

    As for television, enemy telecommunications are clearly legitimate targets. I assume it was a Hamas TV station, to which I have no problem.

    You act as if Hamas was a partner for peace in the first place. Israel made several goodwill gestures, such as completely evacuating the Gaza Strip, restraining military action while Hamas fired rockets, and opening the crossings two days ago. Hamas didn’t renew the truce. They wanted to posture and look tough to the people of Gaza. This is the price they are paying, and unfortunately they demand that every Gazan pay with them.


  10. “Look, if you’re not willing to bear any principles of war that allow for any civilian casualties then there’s no point in me arguing with you.”

    You’re right. Those “principles” are generally considered war crimes under international law.

    I don’t give a flying fuck about “just war theory.” That you would even call firing missiles into overpopulated buildings at busy times of the day “war” belies your whole point.

    What do I expect Israel to do? I dunno, maybe abide by international law. Maybe abide by basic modicums of human decency. You know, rise above tit-for-tat, if you poke me I’m going to piledrive your face into the ground-type overreaction.

    “You act as if Hamas was a partner for peace in the first place.”

    How have you magically determined this? I’m not defending Hamas at all. But you’re acting like the only option Israel has is carpet-bombing Gaza to the stone-age. Such is not the case.


  11. Where’s the carpet bombing? These were pinpoint strikes. It’s not Israel’s fault that Hamas built up its military capabilities around civilians, and the blame for that falls squarely on Hamas, not Israel.

    Rise above the tit for tat? How can a government survive when it allows a quarter million people to live under the constant threat of rocket fire? Your definition of “rising above” is tantamount to social suicide.

    And if you really don’t care about just war theory why are you citing international law, which is based on just war theory? That’s like saying you don’t like the theory of equality under the law and basic liberties but you love the Constitution.

    Again, collateral damage is not the same as committing a war crime. We can agree collateral damage is bad, but why exactly is this a war crime? Israel bombed military targets with a good degree of efficacy. Hamas tried to use its civilians as a human shield, with varying degrees of success.

    What you’re calling overpopulated buildings were Hamas military centers. Your actual problem with civilian casualties has little to do with the target buildings and more to do with the fallout of bombing those target buildings, and the effect it had on the surrounding area. That Hamas built those buildings in such close proximity to civilians is tragic, but the fault there lies with Hamas. Israel’s strikes could have easily caused far less collateral damage had Hamas simply not operated in civilian areas.

    We agree that the civilian loss of life here is bad, but that’s not the same as this being illegal under international law or being a war crime.

    Why is this so wrong? Because civilians died? How many civilian casualties are too much for you, and why must Israel commit political suicide in order to cave to the will of a terror group?

    You act as if you wouldn’t do anything if someone poked you every day. Just think about that for a second: someone pokes you at all hours of the day, every day, consistently, and nothing you say stops it. Nobody else is willing to help you stop it. Would you put up with that forever? If not, then for how long? Would you put up with it for two weeks? Because Israel did. Then they stopped putting up with it. I doubt you’d have the same restraint, but hey, maybe you’re a saint. Or maybe you just have a nice philosophy that’s never been personally put to the test.


  12. Just a question: do you work for the Israeli Consulate or AIPEC or something, DaveNJ? I’m being serious. Because if someone ain’t paying you for constantly shovelling the horseshit talking points, well, brother, you’re wasting your time giving it away for free.

    BTW, we get it, seriously: you really, honestly, truly don’t give a sweaty monkey shit about (Palestinian) civilians. If you actually think that writing off an entire race as expendable by stamping your feets and banging the “JUST WAR!!!1one” drum makes you a grown-up and the rest of us naive children, well, so be it. But all the banal, legalistic justifications in the world won’t make you any less an amoral, hypocritical apologist for collective punishment.

    Oh, and before you bother tendering your by-now-all-too-predictable auto-rebuttal, let me save you the trouble:


    Yeah, who gives a shit if the “collateral damage” is actually going to lead to an outcome that benefits Israel in the long term, instead of just perpetuating an endless cycle of chaos and violence (unless by “benefit” one means “manufacture a political climate wholly beneficial to the ideological biases of Bibi, Meshalm and Co.”)

    Jesus wept. After watching you in action over the past two weeks, I’m finding it hard not to write you off as the mirror image of Khaled Meshalm, just as stubborn and, apparently, determined to see the Middle East go up in flames, all because you callously refuse to acknowledge the basic fucking humanity of your “enemies”.


  13. 1. No I don’t work for either. Just your average guy named Dave in New Jersey.
    2. It’s the height of poor argument to attack the person and not the argument.

    So now that we’ve cleared that up, let’s address the lies/overstatements.

    1. When did I say I don’t care about Palestinian civilians? I do. Wholeheartedly. I’ve been to the West Bank, and I truly desire to see the establishment of a Palestinian state, and soon. My problem is with a group that is holding about 1.5 million of them hostage in Gaza, a group that thrives on keeping them at war with an enemy they can’t possibly beat in ways antithetical to human decency. A group that inculcates hate from birth onwards, and whose idea of hope for the future is no prosperous society, but a patriarchal military government where a few of them control everything. Hamas benefits none but a few people with guns and some others in Damascus and Tehran.

    2. Please don’t write my rebuttals for me. And please, address my points.

    3. Collateral damage doesn’t benefit anyone in the long term. However, the cycle of violence is far more complex than civilian casualties, and ignores the fact that there’s a well-armed military in Israel and a pretty sizable pseudo-militia in Gaza. Even if we eliminated all collateral damage on either side today the war wouldn’t end.

    4. “Writing off an entire race”. Why is this a race thing? The Palestinians share the same race as me! Why would I want to write off the entire semitic race?

    5. Just war doctrine is neither banal nor amoral. It’s an attempt to apply morals to something that until recently was essentially a free for all. We’re only 65 years removed from a time when firebombing Dresden was considered cool, and we owe a lot of our advances in the field of war to just war theory. If you like international law as it regards war you’re probably a supporter of just war theory, even if you don’t know it.

    6. Jesus can cry all he likes, it’s not really my problem, and I don’t believe he’s alive to do any weeping. Unless you mean people with the name Jesus, and not the historical Yeshua from Nazareth, in which case you’d have to ask each one individually.

    7. Who is Khaled Meshalm? I think you’re talking about Khaled Meshaal, senior leader of Hamas based in Damascus, but hey, nothing wrong with not having all the facts. It’s just that if you want to say I’m the mirror image of someone I think it best to know their name.

    8. Not once have I denied the humanity of any Palestinian, even one who engages in terrorist activities. That doesn’t mean that I don’t want to see a terrorist group that hurts both Palestinians and Israelis to fall, though, because I do. The Middle East is already in flames, I just think it would be best to stop groups like Hamas from dousing it with gasoline.

    So I hope that clarifies things, and maybe it’ll give you more bait to make assumptions or craft some sweet insults in caps lock. If you actually feel like discussing the issue, though, which is the strikes in Gaza during Operation Cast Lead, you might want to address my points as opposed to attacking me.

    So again, I’d like to ask why the strikes are war crimes, what makes them immoral, and if the strikes are immoral because they cause collateral damage how much collateral damage is allowed in war? Because that’s what this is, whether we’d like to admit it or not.


  14. Cute. Spelling flames and Perlstein’s law, all in one convenient package. My sincere apologies for being imprecise and making typos at 230-fucking-am. Glad to see you have your priorities so perfectly aligned.

    Oh, and no, I do not want to address your points. I’m not a fucking masochist who gets off on repeatedly braining myself against a brick wall. Others with a lot more patience (and less of a proclivity for calling scum-sucking fuckbaskets scum sucking fuckbaskets) have admirably spent the past two weeks attempting to address the arguments you’ve presented, and you have arbitrarily dismissed any and all points that don’t conform to what you have, in your infinite wisdom and experience, determined to be The Way Things Are.

    Yes, I’ve no doubt you love the Palestinians. The love positively oozes off you (nothing says “genuine concern” quite like measuring just how much “collateral damage” is acceptable). I and others have been more than gracious and patient in allowing you to dominate the I/P threads in this space (which, btw, you are a guest in) with your Israel uber alles apologia. But, frankly, in considering the present geopolitical circumstances, your self-righteous faux-civility is appallingly banal. Sorry you find that term inapt, but, well, you’re the one who is earnestly bean-counting the Palestinian lives that you so easily determine to be, yes, expendable while the bodies are still fucking warm.

    So, with all due respect, please don’t bother posting here again.


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