Orders, civilians and bombs

I’m sorry about the treatment Sharon Dolev received while demonstrating at the entrance to an Air Force base near Tel Aviv. If in fact it happened as she described, there’s no excuse for it.

Of course one of the things that makes Israel special in that part of the world– and, dare I say it, worth fighting for– is that Israelis like Ms. Dolev have the right to express unpopular, anti-government opinions. So I regret any efforts (no matter how spontaneous) to physically harass those voicing such views.

But I must admit that more than anything else in her guest post, this is what got my attention:

We hold signs calling on them to refuse orders to bomb civilians and children.

Excuse me, Ms. Dolev, but precisely which orders are you referring to? Do you have any documented evidence that Israeli pilots have received specific orders to “bomb civilians and children”?

On the other hand, the Associated Press has a report based on an interview with an Israeli Apache helicopter pilot who says he has aborted missions over Gaza to avoid civilian casualties.

Capt. Orr, 25, felt that aborting some of his targets for fear of harming civilians were among his proudest achievements.

“The ones I remember are when I have locked in on a target and I fire and then at the last second I see a child in my cross hairs and I divert the missile,” he said. “That leaves a mark.”
He said he has seen Hamas use civilians as its human shields, and he has held his fire in such cases. But he added that all those who accused Israel of targeting civilians were mistaken and misled by what they saw on TV. He personally has called off many airstrikes, even at the risk of letting a rocket-launcher get away, for fear of harming an innocent woman or a child. He said by doing so, he was following both his military orders and his own conscience.

And instead of court-martialling Capt. Orr, Israeli authorities considered his behavior exemplary enough to arrange the interview.

Now you can call Captain Orr a hideous liar or a noble exception. And perhaps there are other Israeli pilots who do not make such efforts to avoid killing civilians. But specific orders to bomb them? If there were such orders, surely the death toll in Gaza would be in the hundreds of thousands by now.

Strangely enough (but on second thought, not strangely at all), the Iranian regime’s Press TV reports the same story as follows:

An Israeli Apache helicopter pilot is refusing to take part in the ongoing onslaught against the civilians in the Gaza Strip.

The ridiculous implication is that by doing so, he is refusing to follow orders– which is strange indeed since, as Press TV notes, “He was also accompanied by a military minder in order not to disclose confidential information.”