The awful repercussions for Israel of the assault on Gaza continue. Ethan Bronner paints a grim picture of world opinion, with particular emphasis on the Turkey-Israel relationship. And Haaretz debriefs some Israeli soldiers from the conflict who testify that the excesses of the attack may have been much worse than Israel has let on:
During Operation Cast Lead, Israeli forces killed Palestinian civilians under permissive rules of engagement and intentionally destroyed their property, say soldiers who fought in the offensive...
Another squad leader from the same brigade told of an incident where the company commander ordered that an elderly Palestinian woman be shot and killed; she was walking on a road about 100 meters from a house the company had commandeered.
The squad leader said he argued with his commander over the permissive rules of engagement that allowed the clearing out of houses by shooting without warning the residents beforehand.
After the orders were changed, the squad leader's soldiers complained that "we should kill everyone there [in the center of Gaza]. Everyone there is a terrorist."
The squad leader said: "You do not get the impression from the officers that there is any logic to it, but they won't say anything. To write 'death to the Arabs' on the walls, to take family pictures and spit on them, just because you can. I think this is the main thing: To understand how much the IDF has fallen in the realm of ethics, really. It's what I'll remember the most."
My boss, James Bennet saw this coming:
As this conflict grinds on, Israel will no doubt remain morally alert -- morally conflicted, as demonstrated by the soldiers who refuse to serve in the territories -- but it will also remain morally compromised in the eyes of the world. Its back to the rest of the Middle East, its face to the Mediterranean, Israel could become ''the largest ghetto in modern Jewish history,'' in the words of Ezrahi.
Sharon may be right. This could be the only way to secure Israel's survival as a Jewish haven. But it may mean a poignant legacy for this indomitable, secular Jew born into the Middle East: an Israel that is increasingly religious, walled off from its neighbors, simultaneously yearning after and fearing a Western community of nations that sees it as more and more foreign.
It profiteth not a man to gain the whole world if he lose his own soul. But for Gaza?
(Photo: a view of Gaza during the offensive by David Silverman/Getty.)
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