It is important to note that an anguished discussion of war crimes would not happen in most of Israel's neighboring states. It's also important to note that war crimes happen in every war - and that the way to judge a society is how it handles such things. In the US, as we now know, war crimes were actually official policy under Bush-Cheney, and contributed directly to the failure of the Iraq invasion for its first few years. And Israel's leadership's rhetoric in attacking Gaza almost certainly contributed to the atmosphere that led to something like this as well:
When asked why that elderly woman was killed, a squad commander was quoted as saying: “What’s great about Gaza you see a person on a path, he doesn’t have to be armed, you can simply shoot him. In our case it was an old woman on whom I did not see any weapon when I looked. The order was to take down the person, this woman, the minute you see her. There are always warnings, there is always the saying, Maybe he’s a terrorist.’ What I felt was, there was a lot of thirst for blood.”
Israel, under the endless assault from its neighbors and its own political paralysis, and enabled by unflinching and uncritical lockstep backing from Washington, has changed - and for the worse:
Amir Marmor, a 33-year-old history graduate student in Jerusalem and a military reservist, said in an interview with The New York Times that he was stunned to discover the way civilian casualties were discussed in training discussions before his tank unit entered Gaza in January. "Shoot and don’t worry about the consequences,” was the message from the top commanders, he said. Speaking of a lieutenant colonel who briefed the troops, Mr. Marmor said, “His whole demeanor was extremely gung ho. This is very, very different from my usual experience. I have been doing reserve duty for 12 years, and it was always an issue how to avoid causing civilian injuries. He said in this operation we are not taking any chances. Morality aside, we have to do our job. We will cry about it later.”
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