Friday, January 04, 2008
Three Cheers for Targeted Assassinations (Alan Dershowitz)
By Joel Amitai
Israel Academia Monitor | Friday, January 04, 2008
Targeted Killing Is Working
By Alan M. Dershowitz
FrontPageMagazine.com | 1/4/2008
Sometimes what the international press does not cover reveals as much
about its biases as what it does cover. When Israel was engaged in a
campaign of targeted killings against Gaza terrorists during the height of
the Palestinian Intifada, the press eagerly reported on every civilian
casualty. Human rights organizations had a field day criticizing Israel
for its failure to pinpoint legitimate military targets and the large
number of collateral deaths its campaign of targeted killings was
producing. In those days, especially in 2002-2003, approximately half of
the people killed by Israeli missiles were civilians. The other half were
terrorists who were engaged in trying to kill as many civilians as
possible. Sometimes the civilian casualties exceeded the legitimate
military killings. The most notorious such case was the targeted killing
of Salah Shehadeh, a terrorist commander who was responsible for hundreds
of Israeli deaths and who was actively involved in planning hundreds,
perhaps thousands, more. After several failed attempts, a targeted rocket
attack managed to kill him and few tears were shed over his well deserved
demise. But in the process of killing him, his wife and daughter were also
killed along with 13 other civilians. This caused an enormous outcry, not
only in the international press, but among Israelis as well. Even though
Shehadeh.s death may well have prevented the deaths of many more Israeli
civilians, still the cost in Palestinian civilian casualties was too high
for most Israelis to accept and for the international media to tolerate.
Since the Shehadeh tragedy, the Israeli air force has undertaken a major
effort to reduce civilian casualties, while continuing to target enemy
combatants who are planning terrorist attacks against Israeli citizens. By
using smaller bombs, they kill fewer civilians, but they also miss many
legitimate military targets, as they did when they used a small bomb and
failed to kill several Hamas terrorist leaders who were assembled in one
Under the leadership of Eliezer Shkedi, the current head of the Israeli
air force, Israel has dramatically reduced the number of civilian deaths,
by developing greater technical proficiency and by forgoing attacks when
the risk of civilian deaths is too high. This is the way this improvement
was recently reported in Haaretz, an Israeli newspaper known for its
criticism of targeted killings:
Lately, the thwartings have indeed become more worthy of the title
"pinpointed." In all the attacks of recent weeks, only gunmen were hurt,
as confirmed by Palestinians. The rate of civilians hurt in these attacks
in 2007 was 2-3 percent. The IDF has come a long way since the dark days
of 2002-2003, when half the casualties in air assaults on the Gaza Strip
were innocent bystanders. The attacks fall into three main categories:
targeting specific known terrorists; targeting Qassam rocket-launching
cells en-route or in action; and punitive bombardments of Hamas outposts,
in response to rocket or mortar fire into Israel.
Reducing the number of civilian casualties in the attacks on Gaza was one
of the first tasks.IAF chief, Eliezer Shkedi, marked out for himself. The
data improved commensurately. From a 1:1 ratio between killed terrorists
and civilians in 2003 to a 1:28 ratio in late 2005. Several IAF mishaps in
2006 lowered the ratio to 1:10, but the current ratio is at its lowest
ever -- more than 1:30.
In other words for every 30 legitimate combatants killed by the Israeli
air force.s campaign of targeted killings, only one civilian is killed.
Even this figure may be misleading because some of the civilians are
anything but innocent bystanders, while others, such as young children,
surely are. Every death of a civilian is a tragedy to be avoided whenever
possible, but civilian deaths are an inevitable consequence of warfare.
This is especially so when terrorists deliberately hide among civilians
and fire rockets from civilian areas, as Hamas and Islamic Jihad
No army in history has ever had a better ratio of combatants to civilians
killed in a comparable setting. Israel.s ratio is far better than that of
the United States, Great Britain, Russia or any other country combating
terrorism. Yet this remarkable improvement has hardly been reported by the
international press. Neither have human rights organizations taken
appropriate note of it, especially considering the extraordinary and
disproportionate criticism directed against Israel when the ratio was
worse. Nor have these organizations noted that the selective employment of
targeted killings in 2007, coupled with other defensive actions, have
resulted in the lowest number of Israeli civilian deaths and the lowest
number of Palestinian civilian deaths in recent times.
This is a story that should be widely reported and carefully analyzed.
Silence in the face of this improvement is misleading, since it leads many
to believe that there have been no improvements since the dark days of the
Intifada. Misleading by silence is as grievous a journalistic sin as
misleading by mistake. The time has come to correct this sin and set the
If I was the type to curse, the language would be very #$%!!!%%&%*##!, but
I'll suffice with:
"Your attempt at being PC
makes you total anti-Torah, anti-Jewish hyPoCrites!"
What has my dander up when I should be mellowing into pre-Shabbat mode?
MKs, OU Condemn Rabbi Wolpe's 'Gallows' Remark
Admittedly, this isn't the first time I've condemned such misguided
thinking. Recently, I wrote about it in the Eye of the Storm and
previously in Shiloh Musings, in a number of posts.
We have to stop "turning the other cheek" and finally act as proud,
confident Jews! .Homesh First.: We Won.t be Suckers Anymore! That's more
According to Israeli Law, Olmert and many other politicians should be
prosecuted, not Rabbi Wolpe. Olmert's admitted goal is the end of Israel
as a self-reliant independent country. That is the actual meaning of what
he, as head of government, mean when they've said that the aim of the
Lebanon War, a year and a half ago, was to bring foreign troops into
Israel to defend it.
And what about democracy, you are probably wondering. Olmert has announced
that he is supplanting, replacing the law of the land and will give
personal final approval or rejection for any building plans in Judea and
Samaria. He is out to kowtow to foreign rulers, rather than build and
protect our country.
Why should US's Bush and Rice have any control over Jewish growth in the
Land of Israel? Bush is a lame duck American President, who is for America
and his family's business-interests first, not Israel's security, and Rice
has stated numerous times that her aim is to be midwife to a Pseudistinian
state and doesn't care how it endangers Israel.
Now, back to business--
. Those "Members of Knesset, ministers and a major US-based Orthodox
Jewish organization" should be condemning Olmert and his fellow travelers.
. They should be condemning all those who call for the destruction
of Jewish settlement in the Land of Israel.
. They should be condemning all those who prevent the growth of
Jewish settlement in the Land of Israel.
. They should be condemning all those who offer our precious, Holy
Land to our enemies.
. They should be condemning all those who want to make our Historic
and Holy Land judenrein.
. They should be condemning all those who are building walls in our
Holy Land to keep Jews from moving freely.
. They should be condemning all those who are dividing our Ancient
Holy Capital City Jerusalem.
. They should examine their souls to discover to whom they are truly
4. getting away with murder: John Granville
New York Sun Staff Editorial
January 2, 2008
O Little Libel on Bethlehem
How Not to Remember & How Not to Forget
Ruth R. Wisse