IDF Drone Strikes Kill International Aid Workers

A tragedy on multiple levels.

Haaretz (“IDF Drone Bombed World Central Kitchen Aid Convoy Three Times, Targeting Armed Hamas Member Who Wasn’t There“):

The Israeli strike that killed seven World Central Kitchen aid workers in the Gaza Strip on Monday night was launched because of suspicion that a terrorist was travelling with the convoy.

An Israeli drone fired three missiles one after the other at a World Central Kitchen aid convoy, that left Monday night to escort an aid truck to a food warehouse in Deir al-Balah in the central Gaza Strip, according to defense sources familiar with the details.

According to the defense sources, the cars were clearly marked on the roof and sides as belonging to the organization, but the war room of the unit responsible for security of the route that the convoy travelled identified an armed man on the truck and suspected that he was a terrorist.

Until the actions that preceded the strike, carried out by a Hermes 450 drone, were completed, the truck reached the warehouse with the World Central Kitchen’s three cars, with seven volunteers in them – two dual-national Palestinians (U.S. and Canada) and five citizens of Australia, the UK, and Poland.

A few minutes later, the three cars left the warehouse without the truck, on which the ostensibly armed man was located. According to the defense sources, that armed man did not leave the warehouse. The cars travelled along a route preapproved and coordinated with the IDF.

[…]

“It’s frustrating,” one of the defense sources told Haaretz. “We’re trying our hardest to accurately hit terrorists, and utilizing every thread of intelligence, and in the end the units in the field decide to launch attacks without any preparation, in cases that have nothing to do with protecting our forces.”

The IDF understands that this is a serious incident that is liable to have far-reaching effects on the continued combat in Gaza, because of deteriorating international legitimacy in recent weeks. The defense establishment is preparing to send representatives to the dead volunteers’ countries, to personally present to senior government officials the findings of the investigation that the army announced on Monday night.

NYT (“What We Know About the Strike That Killed 7 World Central Kitchen Workers“) adds:

The Israeli military had been informed of aid workers’ movements, the charity said. Aid workers had just unloaded more than 100 tons of food brought to Gaza by sea at the warehouse, according to the group.

[…]

On Tuesday, Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari, the chief spokesman of the Israeli army, said the circumstances behind the strike were still being investigated “at the highest levels.” He said the investigation had been referred to the Fact Finding and Assessment Mechanism, a military body tasked with investigating accusations of probing the circumstances behind battlefield incidents.

“We will be opening a probe to examine this serious incident further,” he said. “This will help us reduce the risk of such an event from occurring again.”

The Israeli military said the mechanism was an “independent, professional, and expert body.” Human rights groups have generally been critical of the Israeli military’s ability to transparently investigate itself, charging that probes are often long and rarely lead to indictments.

Bellingcat’s Nick Waters declares “Strike That Killed World Central Kitchen Workers Bears Hallmarks of Israeli Precision Strike.”

The destroyed vehicles bear the hallmarks of a precision strike, which only the IDF has the capability to conduct in the region. Images from the aftermath of the strike show that the WCK vehicles were white and at least one had the WCK logo and name clearly marked on the roof.

There is a whole lot of detail and photographic evidence but it may actually be overtaken by events. The Haaretz report makes it clear that the attack was indeed a precision strike, carried out by a Hermes 450 drone, against a specific target. That they got it wrong isn’t that big a shock. Or that innocents died as a result. That happens in war and it’s a risk aid workers knowingly take. Indeed, BBC reports, “The war in Gaza has led to at least 196 aid workers being killed before last night’s attack on the seven WCK workers, according to data from the Aid Worker Security Database.”

What’s harder to understand is how the IDF, which according to multiple credible reports, was in coordination with WFK, made this particular mistake. The notion that they intentionally targeted WFK just makes no sense.

While all of the reports emphasize that the vehicles were clearly marked, the photographic evidence shows that the markings weren’t exactly designed to be easily identifiable from the air:

Ali Jadallah/Anadolu Agency (via Bellingcat)

These look to be signs printed out and taped to the roof and windshield. The roof sign, in particular, white paper on a white roof, isn’t exactly designed to catch the eye. I’m not blaming the victims here; I’m simply assessing whether it would be possible for a drone operator to miss the signs. I’d say absolutely—especially since the attack happened at night.

Regardless, the fallout is swift. Lots of reaction in the above-linked BBC live blog.

  • [The head of the Norwegian Refugee Council, Jan Egeland] says WCK had close coordination with the Israeli Defence Forces and always notified them about their movements in what is called a “deconfliction” system. “This is a war machine totally out of control in Gaza,” he says, adding that more aid workers have been killed in Gaza “than in any other conflict”.
  • Polish President Andrzej Duda is echoing calls made earlier by several world leaders as he demands an explanation for the deaths of the volunteers killed in the Israeli airstrike in Gaza.
  • Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese says the death of Australian aid worker Lalzawmi “Zomi” Frankcom was a “tragedy that should never have occurred” and calls for “full accountability”.
  • UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak says he is “shocked and saddened”, adding “clearly there are questions that need to be answered”. British nationals are reported to have been killed.
  • Poland’s Foreign Minister Radek Sikorksi says he is personally asking for an “urgent explanation” from the Israeli ambassador Yacov Livne into reports that a Pole was among those killed.
  • The White House says it is “heartbroken and deeply troubled by the strike”. US National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson urges Israel to “swiftly investigate what happened”.
  • President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, pays tribute to the aid workers who lost their lives and sends her “deepest condolences to their families and friends”.

BBC diplomatic correspondent Paul Adams (“Deadly convoy attack is a disaster for Israel’s image“):

If an Israeli airstrike was responsible for taking the lives of seven World Central Kitchen (WCK) aid workers – and the evidence available so far points in that direction – then this is a disaster for WCK, the people of Gaza, and Israel’s image.

As Israel moves to ban UNRWA – the main UN organisation responsible for the Welfare of Palestinian (UNWRA) in the Gaza Strip – it has come to rely heavily on other humanitarian organisations.

The government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has accused UNWRA of employing more than 2,000 members of Hamas.

WCK, which has been on the ground for months and which had just brought in a second 400 tonne shipment of aid by sea from Cyprus, is playing an increasingly prominent and important role in preventing Gaza from sliding into famine.

Israel has trumpeted the role of WCK and other aid organisations as proof UNRWA is no longer needed.

At a recent briefing, Israeli diplomats said WCK had “come out of nowhere and has become around 13% of the food story inside Gaza”.

It also says it is doing everything in its power to facilitate the distribution of aid throughout the Gaza Strip.

Last night’s deadly attack on the WCK convoy will make it harder for Israel to sustain that narrative.

Again, the fog of war often has tragic consequences. But this looks very, very bad for Israel.

FILED UNDER: Middle East, World Politics, , , , , , , , , , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Michael Reynolds says:

    This is awful. I’m a big fan and occasional supporter of Chef Andrés, who is an exemplary human being. Do I believe the hit was deliberate? No. But it was at the very least reckless. Reckless and incompetent and stupid.

    Netanyahu should pay with his job. And the rest of the war cabinet should re-examine their strategy and tactics.

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  2. Matt Bernius says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    Do I believe the hit was deliberate?

    Good faith question MR, can you explain your definition of “deliberate” here?

    I suspect you might mean “deliberately targeting aid workers out of malice.” I want to confirm that before I write any response to that. Especially as it’s easy for “deliberate” to be read as “intentional,” and it seems clear that this strike was very intentional (especially if the Haaretz reporting is true and this was done over the suspicion that a single Hamas fighter was traveling with the aide workers).

    The Israeli military said the mechanism was an “independent, professional, and expert body.” Human rights groups have generally been critical of the Israeli military’s ability to transparently investigate itself, charging that probes are often long and rarely lead to indictments.

    And there is good reason for that skepticism given their record of “investigations” into other high profile accidental killings like the killing/murder of Shireen Abu Akleh.

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  3. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Matt Bernius:
    I mean that I do not think the Israeli war cabinet gave orders to snuff out aid workers. It was intentional in the sense that a pilot pulled a trigger. And it was reckless in the sense that there is no reasonable ROE that would lead to this result. The Haaretz reporting would support that conclusion.

    I also do not believe that the US Joint Chiefs deliberately targeted the Wech Baghtu wedding in Afghanistan, but ultimate responsibility lies with the people who set the ROE.

    Hamas could end all this today by surrendering. They started this, they deliberately use their own people as human shields, and they should be wiped out. But at the very least this is bad PR for Israel, and a senseless killing of good people trying to do the right thing.

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  4. MarkedMan says:

    The notion that they intentionally targeted WFK just makes no sense… Again, the fog of war often has tragic consequences.

    C’mon. The Israeli government is completely controlled by people who view Palestinians as animals, and it is therefore inevitable that the military is similarly riddled with such attitudes. And the soldiers are obviously being told to ignore all the outside world stuff and do whatever it takes to kill Hamas. Given that, this is inevitable. Couple this with the fact that it is the Israeli policy to use starvation in the war against the Gazans and the message from the top is loud and clear: “don’t worry about going to far, only worry about not going far enough”.

    And Hamas has similar attitudes, even worse. But let’s be realistic: for both sides this is about taking someone else’s land by violence. It is inevitable that each side dehumanizes the other in order to justify the theft. And once that dehumanization happens, the spiral into slaughter and violence is inevitable.

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  5. Matt Bernius says:

    @Michael Reynolds:
    Thanks for the response!

    I mean that I do not think the Israeli war cabinet gave orders to snuff out aid workers.

    I completely agree with this. I also propose that they have laid down an approach to this conflict that seems to be leading to these types of intentional decisions by folks down the chain of command. Again, this might not be through active encouragement so much as probably (this is speculation) not building real disincentives for troops who make reckless judgment calls in cases like this. This is far from the first case of something like this happening during this war (see, for example, escaping hostages being killed by friendly fire or people being killed waiting in ration lines).

    The unfortunate reality is that as things drag out and more missions are run, the probability that this type of mistake will happen again only increases. What makes this case particularly damning is that, as the reporting pointed out, WCK had cleared everything they were doing with IDF.

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  6. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Matt Bernius:

    The unfortunate reality is that as things drag out and more missions are run, the probability that this type of mistake will happen again only increases.

    Thus every war, ever. Our Civil War began with all sorts of gentlemanly nonsense, and ended with Sherman’s march through Georgia and South Carolina, Andersonville and Fort Pillow. We started the air war against Germany with what we believed was the most humane approach possible – daylight, precision bombing. (Precision not so much as it turned out.) We ended by firebombing Japanese cities full of civilians. And let’s not forget that we were ‘saving’ freedom-loving South Vietnamese from the Communists when My Lai happened.

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  7. A country lawyer says:

    Yes, just like the attack on the USS Liberty in 1967 this attack was also unintentional.

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  8. DrDaveT says:

    What makes this case particularly damning is that, as the reporting pointed out, WCK had cleared everything they were doing with IDF.

    I can see how this is a new kind of awful PR for the IDF, but there is a cognitive dissonance involved in seeing more angst about carelessly killing seven chefs than about 5000 children or 20,000 innocent civilians.

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  9. Mikey says:

    “It’s frustrating,” one of the defense sources told Haaretz. “We’re trying our hardest to accurately hit terrorists, and utilizing every thread of intelligence, and in the end the units in the field decide to launch attacks without any preparation, in cases that have nothing to do with protecting our forces.”

    This is incredibly damning. It indicates both an inability to exercise proper authority from the top down, and a complete lack of proper discipline from the bottom up.

    We’ve seen more than one instance of the IDF murdering people who are attempting to surrender, in one instance killing Israeli hostages who doubtless thought their rescuers had come. This atrocity is just the latest indication of a reckless, out-of-control force that apparently doesn’t care who else it kills as long as it can pick off some Hamas foot-soldier.

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  10. DK says:

    What’s harder to understand is how the IDF, which according to multiple credible reports, was in coordination with WFK, made this particular mistake. The notion that they intentionally targeted WFK just makes no sense.

    Pretty easy to understand, given Israelis have kept electing a government led by terroristic, incompetent, lying, rightwing thugs like Benjamin Netanyahu and Itamar Ben-Gvir. It’s natural that such failed leadership would be complicit in killing innocents — be they aid workers, warzone journalists, their own goddam hostages, Palestinian civilians, or the 7 Oct victims left grossly unprotected.

    If Americans end up putting MAGA back in power — we would expect violence, perversion, failure, and depravity as consequences. Extremism and loss comes when you elect extremist losers. Duh.

    Indiscriminate killing of innocents doesn’t need to be intentional when the conditions have been set by deliberate depraved indifference. Dehumanization and incompetent thuggery starts at the top. That was true with the Bush administration and Abu Ghraib, and it’s true here.

    So these dead aid workers make just as much sense Netanyahu and his ilk intentionally funding and boosting Hamas for years till 7 Oct., intentionally suppressing freedom of the press since, intentionally supporting and extending settler terrorism in the West Bank, intentionally undermining Obama and Biden, and intentionally having incited the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin.

    What’s hard to understand is why people who don’t accept such backsliding behavior from American leadership or the American people keep making excuses for the moral corruption of American allies like Israel — naïvely pretending the IDF’s rules of engagement* (*very few rules) are in any way designed to minimize civilian casualties. Like, please.

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  11. Cheryl Rofer says:

    The IDF has now said the attack was deliberate. They believed that a Hamas operative was in the convoy. So they killed everyone.

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  12. Moosebreath says:

    @Cheryl Rofer:

    “They believed that a Hamas operative was in the convoy. So they killed everyone.”

    Far better for 7 international aid workers to die, than for 1 Hamas operative to live until he could be targeted separately.

    The idea that, after the last thousand or so years of Jewish history, Israel is OK with collective punishment and killing many innocent civilians in an attempt to get the few evildoers strikes me as obscene.

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  13. Matt Bernius says:

    @Michael Reynolds:
    I agree that this type of thing happening is a commonality in war.

    And at the same time, I feel like this conversation may be taking a turn into something analogous to “bothsiderism.” I am reading that response as arguing that because of past atrocities conducted by our military or other militaries, we should accept ongoing bad actions as they play out in the present (by our military or other modern militaries).

    Let me know if I’m reading that incorrectly.

    Anyway, I think that the quote from @Mikey’s comment gets to my point. If the actual soldiers on the ground think this is acceptable behavior and continue to get away with it, that points to a larger ongoing chain of command issue that shouldn’t be tolerated (regardless of whether or not things like this have happened in past wars).

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  14. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Matt Bernius:

    I am reading that response as arguing that because of past atrocities conducted by our military or other militaries, we should accept ongoing bad actions as they play out in the present (by our military or other modern militaries).

    I am offering context for some of our readers here who evidently know nothing about war. Obviously not including you. Americans generally know next to nothing about history, and people on the Left typically know less than nothing about how war works, what it does to the people involved. A year before US Marines began cutting the ears off dead Japanese soldiers as souvenirs, not one of those men would have believed they would sink that low.

    You will recall that my position from the start has been that this is a tragedy, one without easy solution. I didn’t use the word ‘tragedy’ lightly. We are watching an avalanche and imagining that if we just yell loud enough it will stop.

    When people – quite early on – began throwing around the word, ‘genocide,’ I pushed back, because it is not genocide. For those who thought calling for a ceasefire or allowing a UN condemnation to pass would matter, I dismissed that and said it would not matter. And it didn’t.

    When people suggested that we should, ‘cut them off,’ I predicted that would have the opposite effect than what was desired. If we cut them off, they’ll use what they have, and they have plenty. If we cut them off Hezbollah will seize the opportunity and if the Israelis are pressed too hard, there will be nukes. Israel will not allow itself to fall, and it has the means at hand to ensure that if it’s going down, a hell of a lot of other people are going with them. Masada is deeply-ingrained in Israelis.

    The ME is where hope goes to die, superpowers discover the limits of their influence, and things can always get worse.

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  15. Andy says:

    I have a super busy work day today, so haven’t been able to look into the details of this yet, but obviously a bad situation all around.

    The only thing I can say at this point is that signs on the vehicles don’t do anything at night because they can’t be seen by IR cameras.

    The big question on intentionality is whether the operators knew they were attacking an aid convoy or not.

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  16. Gustopher says:

    The Haaretz report makes it clear that the attack was indeed a precision strike, carried out by a Hermes 450 drone, against a specific target. That they got it wrong isn’t that big a shock. Or that innocents died as a result. That happens in war and it’s a risk aid workers knowingly take.

    What’s harder to understand is how the IDF, which according to multiple credible reports, was in coordination with WFK, made this particular mistake. The notion that they intentionally targeted WFK just makes no sense.

    I don’t think we can rule out a deliberate attack on aid workers. The IDF is not a monolith hive mind, so just because no one at the top put out an order to kill everyone in this convoy because they were aid workers does not mean that the people doing it were not doing it deliberately.

    Indeed, BBC reports, “The war in Gaza has led to at least 196 aid workers being killed before last night’s attack on the seven WCK workers, according to data from the Aid Worker Security Database.”

    It’s almost like the IDF is ok with aid workers being killed, and doesn’t really take a lot of precautions to prevent it.

    200 dead aid workers, out of 30,000 dead people. That’s about 0.5% of the people killed (rounding down, as the 30,000 number is old).

    Do we believe that 1 in 200 people in Palestine right now are aid workers? Or do we believe that aid workers are being disproportionately killed?

    Add to this the Israeli claims that UNRWA is tied to Hamas, and you have a recipe for soldiers to think that aid workers are a legitimate target.

    About the UNRWA claims, per Wikipedia:
    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/UNRWA_October_7_controversy

    In late February, a US intelligence report expressed “low confidence” about Israeli claims on UNRWA.[15] An UNRWA report from February 2024 stated that Israel subjected some of its employees to falsely admit Hamas links under “forced confession”, including through the use of torture.[16][17]

    The Israeli claims are somewhere on the spectrum between bullshit and intentionally overblown.

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  17. wr says:

    @Michael Reynolds: ” Israel will not allow itself to fall, and it has the means at hand to ensure that if it’s going down, a hell of a lot of other people are going with them.”

    I think it’s more a matter of Bibi will not allow himself to fall. He’ll turn this into a world war if it keeps him from going on trial for his crimes. Amazing how little attention has been paid to him blowing up the Iranian embassy in Syria, apparently trying to draw Iran directly into this conflict as the rest of the world is trying to keep them out.

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  18. Gustopher says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    if the Israelis are pressed too hard, there will be nukes.

    Your arguments that our support is simultaneously too small to matter, and the only thing holding Israel back lacks any semblance of internal consistency.

    This, however, is particularly dumb. You don’t use nuclear weapons that close to home. You only nuke people far away.

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  19. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Gustopher:

    Do we believe that 1 in 200 people in Palestine right now are aid workers? Or do we believe that aid workers are being disproportionately killed?

    No, but aid workers are not hunkering down in tunnels or hiding in the ruins.

    I’m of two minds on the Haredi being required to serve. On the one hand, they are instigators who should bear some of the cost personally, rather than hiding in madrasas. Oh, sorry, I mean Yeshivas. OTOH, they are racist, fanatic thugs, and not likely to add anything helpful.

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  20. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Gustopher:
    You’re wrong. Israel will absolutely use nukes if they feel in real jeopardy it’s why they have them. And Teheran and Damascus are not close by. In addition, I’d just point out that we don’t know whether Israel’s nukes are solely fission, or whether they also have fusion (H-bomb) weapons. Those latter don’t create much fallout as they do not use radioactive materiel.

    Your arguments that our support is simultaneously too small to matter, and the only thing holding Israel back lacks any semblance of internal consistency.

    Except that’s not what I said. I never said our weapons didn’t matter. Of course they matter, they blow up and kill people. I said the 1% of Israel’s GDP we contribute would not deter them, any more than we’d have let Pearl Harbor pass if someone cut our GDP by 1%.

    And I don’t think that our aid is all that is restraining Israel. I said that absent that aid, they have other, harsher means they can employ. If you don’t think Israel has the ability to drive every living person in Gaza into the Sinai, you’re mistaken.

    We do not have the degree of influence you and others seem to think we do. This is not 1973. This is a much more powerful Israel.

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  21. Kingdaddy says:

    @Matt Bernius:

    I agree that this type of thing happening is a commonality in war.

    And at the same time, I feel like this conversation may be taking a turn into something analogous to “bothsiderism.” I am reading that response as arguing that because of past atrocities conducted by our military or other militaries, we should accept ongoing bad actions as they play out in the present (by our military or other modern militaries).

    I share the same concern. Brutalization in warfare is nothing new. Nor is civilian death because they were unlucky enough to be too close to bullets and bombs. But these deaths aren’t the result an errant mortar shell, intended for another target. Nor are they the consequences of front-line soldiers with itchy trigger fingers. This is a drone attack, remotely controlled from a safe location, on multiple vehicles, known to contain aid workers. All to ensure that a single Hamas member doesn’t inhale another breath.

    We should all wait for more information, clarification, analysis, before jumping to too many conclusions. Deliberately-targeted drone strikes, however, do not easily fit the narrative being discussed here.

    I have an acquaintance who has volunteered for WCK missions in Ukraine and Poland. If she and her compatriots were killed by a Russian drone, we would not be having quite the same “shit happens” discussion. Nor would we be dismissing their deaths with other comments like, “Aid workers know the risks.”

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  22. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Gustopher:

    You don’t use nuclear weapons that close to home.

    Do you know about Masada? It was a hilltop fortress in biblical Israel. Romans besieged it and eventually threatened to take the fortress. At which point:

    when Roman troops entered the fortress, they discovered that its defenders had set all the buildings but the food storerooms ablaze and committed mass suicide or killed each other, 960 men, women, and children in total. Josephus wrote of two stirring speeches that the Sicari leader had made to convince his men to kill themselves.[10] Only two women and five children were found alive.[10]

    Every Israeli child is raised on that story. You think they won’t drop a small nuke on Southern Lebanon, or Gaza, or bigger nukes on Teheran and Damascus? Wishful thinking.

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  23. James Joyner says:

    @Kingdaddy: I don’t see it as a dismissal. They’re heroic precisely because they’re putting themselves in danger–grave danger*–to help strangers.

    ____
    Cue: Col Nathan Jessup

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  24. Kingdaddy says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    You think they won’t drop a small nuke on Southern Lebanon, or Gaza, or bigger nukes on Teheran and Damascus?

    Uh, no, they would not. Without getting into the convoluted logic of deterrence, or the likely backlash from the rest of the world, or every other reason to doubt whether Israel would nuke Tehran or Damascus because of October 7th, there are blazingly obvious reasons like radiation and fallout why they would not nuke Gaza or the West Bank.

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  25. Michael Reynolds says:

    One last point then I have to work. Biden can cut off aid to Israel. . . for the few hours it’d take for a suddenly bipartisan Congress to send Israel twice as much.

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  26. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Kingdaddy:

    because of October 7th,

    1) I never said as a result of October 7th, I said if Israel felt they were in serious jeopardy of being overrun.

    2) As I pointed out, radiation isn’t an issue if Israel has fusion bombs. IDK if they do.

    3) What on earth makes you think Israel would allow its people to be exterminated for fear of backlash? You think if Israel thought it was nearing destruction they’d give a fuck? Would we? We spent decades threatening to essentially annihilate the human race if the Soviets came at us.

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  27. Mikey says:

    @Kingdaddy:

    But these deaths aren’t the result an errant mortar shell, intended for another target. Nor are they the consequences of front-line soldiers with itchy trigger fingers. This is a drone attack, remotely controlled from a safe location, on multiple vehicles, known to contain aid workers. All to ensure that a single Hamas member doesn’t inhale another breath.

    This. The IDF KNEW the trucks were transporting aid workers and they STILL hit them, multiple times. This was an entirely intentional decision to disregard the lives of the aid workers.

    I can only conclude the IDF, at some level anyway, is indifferent to collateral loss of life. If they have to kill 7 civilians to get one Hamas, they’ll do it. Who’s to say 7 is the limit? What about 70 or 700?

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  28. Kingdaddy says:

    Israel is not currently in danger of being overrun, so there’s no reason to be discussing the nuclear option. It is rapidly becoming a pariah state, which is an immediate threat to its long-term national security.

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  29. Michael Reynolds says:

    I am struck again by the lack of imagination from critics of Israel. Everyone has a Step One. And no one has a Step Two. People are thinking with their feelings and not with their imaginations, or with any sort of comprehension of how enraged, frightened humans work. How about someone, rather than telling me what a bastard I am for correctly pointing out 6 months ago that there was no solution, show us your war game. Show us how you think the players involved would react under various scenarios.

    I asked this six months ago in a nice easy, quiz format.

    1) On Monday, Israel declares a permanent ceasefire.
    2) On Tuesday Hamas fires missiles into Israel.
    3) On Wednesday?

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  30. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Kingdaddy:

    Israel is not currently in danger of being overrun, so there’s no reason to be discussing the nuclear option. It is rapidly becoming a pariah state, which is an immediate threat to its long-term national security.

    There’s no value in anticipating future contingencies?

    As for becoming a pariah state, they’ve been condemned a million times by the UN. But yeah, they’d cave if they were condemned again. You want to know who would still do business with Israel? Saudi Arabia. The UAE. Egypt. Jordan. You’re being naive.

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  31. a country lawyer says:

    @Michael Reynolds: (H bombs) do not use radioactive materiel. Thermonuclear (H bombs) require a fission bomb as a trigger in order to reach the temperatures required for fusion of the tritium and lithium deuteride.

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  32. Kingdaddy says:

    @Michael Reynolds: It’s not a binary choice between a permanent ceasefire and what Israel’s current strategy. On many dimensions, Israel could be waging this war differently. The tempo of operations does not need to be as high as it is, for example. The Israeli government could be allowing more food, medicine, and other essentials into Gaza. It could put a stop to any discussion about building new settlements in Gaza and the West Bank. And the list continues.

    Yes, there are genuine tragedies, people forced into terrible dilemmas. In fact, politics frequently poses nothing but bad choices. But there’s a difference between making the most out of the choice you take, and making the worst out of it.

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  33. Kathy says:

    @Kingdaddy:

    Yes, this attack crossed a line.

    I’d say Bibi should not only be deposed, but handed over to the ICC. It won’t happen, but that’s the moral choice to make.

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  34. Gustopher says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    No, but aid workers are not hunkering down in tunnels or hiding in the ruins.

    And Hamas is not traveling in the open, notifying IDF of their location and planned routes of travel.

    A lot of aid workers are being killed. More than would happen “naturally.” Enough that it shows indifference to their safety, if not actual hostility and targeting.

    Or the number of dead is well over 30,000, and everyone is better at counting dead aid workers than civilians.

    I asked this six months ago in a nice easy, quiz format.

    1) On Monday, Israel declares a permanent ceasefire.
    2) On Tuesday Hamas fires missiles into Israel.
    3) On Wednesday?

    That presupposes that the only options have ever been doing nothing and creating 1.8M refugees, killing 0ver 30,000 people, and trying to create famine conditions. I think there are lots of middle ground options between nothing and petit-genocide.

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  35. wr says:

    @Michael Reynolds: “Every Israeli child is raised on that story. ”

    Every American child is raised on the story of George Washington and the cherry tree, and yet somehow we’re not a nation of rabid truth-tellers.

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  36. steve says:

    Motivation is always difficult to determine. However, we are left with some facts. Israel claimed that UNWRA workers were Hamas members, US intelligence thought there claims were likely not true, and UNWRA cut back on food aid. WCK took up the slack, coordinated with Israel so their workers would be safe and got killed anyway. WCK is now pausing food aid. Whatever intentions are claimed the end result is less food aid getting to Gaza. Finally, we know that it was Israel’s initial intent to not let in any food aid. It at least looks like Israel is achieving its goal of no food aid. No way to know if that was deliberate or just serendipitous.

    Steve

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  37. Gustopher says:

    @Michael Reynolds: equally simple quiz:

    How will Israel know that it is done?

    Simply, just what are the circumstances that will make this “military operation” (or whatever you want to call it) over? What is the achievable military goal, and what does Israel- Palestine look like afterwards?

    Simple question no one can answer. And without that, it makes it really hard to justify this level of brutality against the civilian population.

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  38. dazedandconfused says:

    @Mikey:

    I wouldn’t assume the people who pulled the trigger, who might have been reservist junior officers or lower, couldn’t make a mistake. This new drone stuff has some damn young people in key parts the loop. I suspect the IDF feels they were lucky they didn’t kill Chef Andre.

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  39. Lounsbury says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    As for becoming a pariah state, they’ve been condemned a million times by the UN.

    Empty condemnations from UN that were mere posturing and actually being pariah are not the same thing.

    The example of apartheid South Africa is a historical benchmark – in evolution in time and in end-results.

    Your piss-poor analytics and ridiculous nuclear posturing aside, Israel is clearly doing damage now – or perhaps one can say the Netanyahu approach is doing damage now to Israeli relations with countriees that actually count in the equation and damage that has the potential to be lasting.

    Only persons with American action movie level of understanding of either international relations or national interest should be sanguine and dismissive of the onoing own-goal that is the Netanyahu approach to the Gaza attack atrocity, rather avoidably damaging itself (this is to the exclusion of those who would be finding fault with Israel regardless). Clear eyes can see that, and smearing all with anti-israel reflexive brand is to engage in self-deception.

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  40. MarkedMan says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    How about someone, rather than telling me what a bastard I am for correctly pointing out 6 months ago that there was no solution,

    I normally don’t get into this side of the discussion, but for fuck’s sake Michael, don’t claim the genius chair for something every single participant in this discussion has been saying since Oct 8th

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  41. @Michael Reynolds:

    Those latter don’t create much fallout

    Could you elaborate?

    How much is “much” fallout in your estimation?

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  42. Beth says:

    @Lounsbury:

    the Netanyahu approach

    For clarity, what Lounsbury said set a couple of thoughts off in my head. This isn’t directed at them or anyone, I’m just working out some thoughts in real time.

    At this point, is the any real difference between the “Israeli approach” and the “Netanyahu approach?” I don’t mean in a formal sense, but in a more, I guess actual or reality sense?

    It seems like there’s a sense (a vibe), that there is an Israel that is wholly separate from Netanyahu. Like Israel is just a passive passenger in a car while Netanyahu drives the wrong way on a highway. At any point in the last 20 years, Israel could have told Netanyahu to fuck off, go to jail. They didn’t. They kept electing him. They knew who he is. They knew who Likud is. They know who all the terrible people Netanyahu got in bed with. The majority of Israelis found this acceptable. (Before anyone starts, I understand that Israeli parliamentary elections are a complicated hell, but each time, the Israelis KNEW they would get Netanyahu and did it anyway.) Why should we pretend anything else? We all know where this is going. Israel is going to reoccupy and annex Gaza.

    Anyone notice that the Israeli supreme court had a deadline of like 6 pm et Sunday to begin drafting the Haridi. There was lots of noise about how this could topple Netanyahu. 6pm came and went without a peep. I just checked and the only news source I could find was a Haaretz article from two days ago saying that the Ultra-Orthodox parties wouldn’t leave the government over this. What were they promised? I’m guessing Gaza, Judea and Samaria.

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  43. EddieInCA says:

    @Gustopher:

    I think there are lots of middle ground options between nothing and petit-genocide.

    I, for one, would love to hear even one…

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  44. Mikey says:

    @dazedandconfused: The IDF believed the Hamas guy was with them and that was sufficient justification to fire, regardless of how many aid workers would die. There was no mistake except that the guy they thought was with them wasn’t.

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  45. dazedandconfused says:

    @Mikey:

    See Andy’s post. Just because some junior officer or such does something in war it doesn’t mean the government ordered it to happen. The government does seem responsible for what appears to be recklessly loose ROE though.

    Recall the great Wikileaks revelation on a photographer killed in Iraq? An airman on a chopper shot a guy peeking around a corner pointing something in the direction of US troops. A lot of people came to the conclusion this meant the US was ordering the killing of press people in Iraq. The pointy end of the spear is run by some pretty young people who have to make their own calls.

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  46. Chip Daniels says:

    I’ve made the comparison before, to the mass slaughter the Allies inflicted in WWII.
    That how almost any level of slaughter is acceptable to most people, IF the overall objective can be clearly seen and appears to be the last resort.

    In this case, Netanyahu hasn’t done that; He hasn’t laid out any proposed objective or vision for the peace. And yes, this goes for the Palestinians as well. No matter appalled I might be by their suffering, if they are still clinging to some eliminationist fantasy then I really can’t muster up much sympathy.

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  47. Mikey says:

    @dazedandconfused: I don’t mean the Israeli Defense Minister approved.the strike. I mean the IDF rules of engagement permitted firing on an aid convoy based on the (mistaken) belief a Hamas guy was in one of the vehicles. That seems beyond dispute at this point, no?

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  48. Raoul says:

    This is beyond horrifying. We need to stop aid until there is a ceasefire. If I’m understanding IDF accounts, they saw a guy with a gun at the warehouse with WCK but never saw that person join the vehicles. How does that even justify shooting the vehicles? Not to mention how did they know it was a Hamas soldier? The drone command center is obviously just winging it while committing murders. Let’s be real, with so many videos of people waiving white flags or just walking and then getting shot, the IDF is conducting a terror campaign. My estimation of the IDF (not to mention Israel), having so many cowards in the ranks, has gone way down.

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  49. Kazzy says:

    “Hamas could end all this today by surrendering.”

    Yes… it is Hamas’s fault that the IDF shot WCK aid workers. That makes perfect sense.

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  50. Gustopher says:

    @EddieInCA: If you cannot find an option between doing nothing and petit-genocide, then you’re really not looking for an option less than petit-genocide.

    At least 30,000 dead. 1.8M refugees. A man-made famine.

    How is it advancing goals of peace or security more than a few bombing missions in the immediate aftermath and then waiting patiently for intelligence for where key Hamas people are and killing them when the opportunity arises?

    (Don’t like that option, there are countless more between nothing and petit-genocide.)

    I’m pretty sure that creating a generational trauma in an area that Israel shares an internal border with (Israel rejects a two state solution as a matter of policy, so it will remain an internal border) is not going to lead to a stable, peaceful, neighborly Palestine inside Israel.

    Without any goals about what would end this attack, and what the future of Gaza would look like afterwards, I think it’s reasonable to assume that the goal of the petit-genocide is the petit-genocide itself. Or a full genocide.

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  51. Gustopher says:

    @Mikey:

    I mean the IDF rules of engagement permitted firing on an aid convoy based on the (mistaken) belief a Hamas guy was in one of the vehicles. That seems beyond dispute at this point, no?

    There is no evidence that the person running the drones thought there was Hamas in one of the vehicles. There are claims that this person thought there was Hamas, but as of yet no evidence.

    I see no reason to assume the IDF officer is more reliable than a policeman in the US. Perhaps that officer was one of the proverbial bad apples. Maybe he hates Palestinians and doesn’t want them fed. We simply don’t have evidence one way or the other, and shouldn’t assume he or the IDF is being truthful.

    What we do know is that the rules of engagement allow a relatively low level soldier to blow up three vehicles at the claim that he saw a Hamas in one of them.

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  52. Raoul says:

    Threadreaderapp has a story from leaked IDF sources that sounds compelling: it was an intentional attack on WCK by lower ranking officers in the drone command center- there is no real supervisory authority there and they have gone rogue since the rules of engagement do not allow for what happened and the perps knew that.

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  53. Gustopher says:

    @Kazzy: Hamas did desperately want to get Israel to wage war against the Palestinian civilians, so I think they should get at least partial blame.

    Seems pretty dumb to give Hamas the war they wanted, mind you, and Israel is responsible for their own actions despite provocation.

    (This war is going great for Hamas — Israel’s relationships with its closest allies are strained, and attitudes have changed among the younger generations in those allies. If you don’t care about the civilians, and you’re willing to play the long game, it’s really going well.)

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  54. Gustopher says:

    @Raoul:

    Threadreaderapp has a story

    That’s also known as “some guy on Twitter.” Some of the guys on Twitter are reasonable people with good information, others are Elon Musk. Can you cite your guy, and is this being confirmed by any major semi-reputable news outlets?

    (It sounds entirely plausible, mind you, but lots of people want to spread false information)

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  55. Ken_L says:

    The IDF’s “but we thought [incorrectly as it turned out] there was a bad guy in one of the trucks so we blew everyone away [going back twice to release another missile when we realised not everyone was dead]” makes a mockery of its claims to be ever-so-careful to avoid civilian casualties.

    And Netanyahu’s dismissive “it’s a war, shit happens” is nauseating, given what’s happening in Gaza bears no resemblance to a war.

    America continuing to supply bombs and missiles to Israel was already unconscionable. This makes the US complicit in war crimes.

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  56. Raoul says:

    @Gustopher: balloon-juice has a link to Dmitri Reader. I am not saying the article is correct but the narrative of lower officers going rogue (which would not be the first time in war) makes sense in part because of what already has happened before this incident and basically because it is really is what makes the most sense. So yes I’m guessing this was a targeted killing.

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  57. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @dazedandconfused: There’s a saying from some author who was a soldier in a past life about what to do if you don’t want your foreign policy to look like it’s being run by teenagers, but I can’t remember the details anymore. Someone help me out.

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  58. Andy says:

    I’m back from a very busy work day and catching up. Wow, another fun Israel/Gaza thread!

    Full disclosure: I did drone operations for a little over three years that involved stuff like this – trying to figure out who the good guys and the bad guys were and killing the bad guys. I was fortunate that all of the things I was involved in killed only bad guys, but another shift in my unit made a mistake that ended up killing US soldiers in a firefight instead of the enemy. I hate to break to you, but this shit ain’t a movie. War is difficult; people make mistakes, especially in a high-stress environment when lives are literally on the line.

    You can go back through the 20-year history of US drone ops and find dozens and dozens of fuckups, many of which were much worse than this one. I am frankly surprised something like this hasn’t happened sooner in this war.

    First of all, the story that seems to be accepted as fact by many here – that Israel knew the vehicles were WCK and struck them anyway is such obvious BS it’s hard to know where to begin. If you actually believe that, you really should see a doctor to have your brain worms removed. Sorry to be a dick, but you really ought to think through the logic of that from beginning to end, and the holes in that thesis should become quite obvious.

    The most obvious and logical explanation – and the one that now seems to be the official Israeli one that I’ve just seen announced – is that they fucked up, didn’t realize the vehicles were WCK, and struck them thinking they were something else. To me, this is the most plausible explanation from the facts available so far and would likely involve an initial error in misidentifying the vehicles at the warehouse and then – I’m guessing here based on what we would do (or would have done a decade ago) – failing to follow procedure to check those vehicles against the WCK manifest. It’s the kind of mistake that the US made on multiple occasions. Keep in mind this is night, the cameras on these drones use infrared at night, and all SUVs look the same.

    Baring some other evidence, it is much more plausible than what many here seem wedded to, the bizarre theory that Israeli would, at this particular sensitive moment for them, decide to destroy what international credibility they have remaining by killing a bunch of aid workers to – depending on the theory -further starve Gaza, to get one Hamas guy with a gun, or for various other hand-wavy reasons that people seem to have made up. Once you’ve decided that the facts are that Israel intentionally and knowingly waxed a bunch of aid workers, ginning up reasons is the easy part.

    Now, maybe if that guy with the gun was named Sinwar, I might believe Israel would take that kind of risk, but the rest is hogwash.

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  59. Flat Earth Luddite says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    IIRC, the late author, David Drake, was reputed to say in an interview words to the effect of “If you don’t want 18-year-olds setting your nation’s foreign policy then don’t send them places where they’re going to be shot at.

    Gods above and below, I’ve been hearing variations of this comment from every veteran I’ve ever known.

    Another comment of his I remember is that the tragedy of war isn’t necessarily what you do to the other person, but what you do to yourself in order to come home. Been there, done that. The hat and souvenir beer cozie are in a box in my garage.

    @Andy:
    Thank you for saying this. Ugly truth but true nonetheless.

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  60. Ken_L says:

    @Andy: I’m not sure blowing vehicles up in a series of attacks – three were destroyed over a distance of 2.5 km, after the victims of the first were loaded into the remaining two – “thinking they were something else” is any more creditable to the IDF than any other explanation. The operation occurred in a very open area (see https://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-68714128 ) so it’s not apparent how anyone in the IDF could have perceived the convoy as an imminent threat.

    And there is no “war” in Gaza. There is a systematic program of killing Palestinians, some of whom may be Hamas fighters, and destroying infrastructure. Israelis casualties have been negligible (14 dead since March 1).

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  61. steve says:

    Andy- I think it incredibly unlikely they deliberately targeted aid workers. What I do think likely is that they have set very low levels of evidence needed to target and kill. Its likely that just thinking one person out of 7 or 8 might be an Hamas guy is enough justification, not needing to verify in any way that the suspect was truly Hamas and not needing to identify who the other 7 people were. The end result would be a lot fo aid workers killed, a lot of reports after claiming, correctly that they made a mistake and thought they were killing Hamas. The end result of all that is no food aid, which was their original plan.

    Query- Its night, you had 3 vehicles moving with 8 people, you dont know who they are, you think one might be a terrorist but you dont know who he is. When during the war would our ROE have allowed you to take them all out in those circumstances?

    Steve

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  62. Andy says:

    Secondly, it’s past time to explain again some fundamental truths of urban warfare.

    Many of you still seem to cling to the delusion that it’s somehow possible to conduct a war in a dense, populated urban area against an enemy using the population as a defensive tactic and somehow not having that result in a lot of civilian casualties.

    Many of you cling to this belief that there is some magical method to root out an enemy using civilians as a defensive tactic without killing civilians or by only killing a very few civilians.

    For months now, you have called on Israel to “do more” to protect civilians, implicitly assigning all responsibility for their protection to Israel and also any casualties to Israel and none onto Hamas. Clearly, Hamas is winning in the Information Operation war.

    @Gustopher for example claims ” I think there are lots of middle ground options between nothing and petit-genocide.”

    This is not new—and, of course, when asked what that would be, no one has any concrete ideas. This “debate” has gone on for months. And what is a middle-ground option? No one will define an acceptable level of civilian casualties commensurate with the objective of destroying Hamas. So the goalposts are always moving and are never clearly defined.

    If you look at the historical record, there is no evidence of any sort of kinder, gentler urban warfare that exists or has ever existed. The only urban warfare that doesn’t result in scores of civilian deaths is urban warfare in which civilians have fled the battlespace.

    And what have I been advocating for? GETTING CIVILIANS OUT OF THE BATTLESPACE.

    In past threads, I’ve pointed out many urban battles – here is another one – the US battle to retake Manila from the Japanese in WW2. In the beginning, MacArthur tried the middle approach – no air power; he did not want to destroy the city or kill civilians. That lasted a couple of days. US troops were getting annihilated. The Japanese used the civilian population for defense and were heavily dug in. Manila had a population of over 1 million. At the end of the battle, 100k of them were dead. Many of those were butchered by the Japanese, but most were killed in the fighting. The whole city was pretty much destroyed.

    I would like to know what the commentariat here thinks of the middle-ground options MacArthur had that he didn’t take.

    My view is there were none.

    Back to Gaza. My view is that if you don’t want lots of civilians to die in Gaza, there are really two choices:
    – Israel stops fighting – the unilateral ceasefire the privileged college kids demand. There is no way that Israel can fight Hamas and not kill civilians as long as Hamas fights using the tactics of war criminals. In this case, Israel does not invade Rafah, Hamas survives and retakes Gaza and gets a strategic victory, and probably in a few years, this whole thing repeats when Hamas decides to attack Israel again. Clearly, this is what the pro-Palestinian/Hamas crowd wants. And I think it’s a probable and not terrible outcome. But proponents should not lie about tradeoffs or effects here – Hamas survives, effectively wins, and the status quo resets only makes the situation in Gaza a lot worse.

    – Get the civilians out of the battlespace. Right now, that would mainly be Rafah. In other threads, I’ve already gone into detail on why no one wants or will allow Gazans to leave Gaza – a cruel and cynical position, but it’s cold, hard reality that isn’t going to change. But they could leave Rafah and go north, and various parties could provide all the logistics and assistance to make this happen, and that would leave Rafah open for Israel to destroy remaining Hamas elements and infrastructure, including the critical supply systems on which it depends. Hamas would oppose this, of course, and threaten people to try to force them not to leave. This could potentially open the possibility for different leadership in Gaza via the decimation of Hamas in Gaza. No guarantee, of course, but the alternative is Hamas remains.

    In summary, there is no magic method to urban warfare that results in low civilian casualties. Contrary to what’s been alleged, Israel has done more things, many of which are novel that no one else has done to limit civilian casualties in urban warfare. A lot of stuff they invented, but there is a limit to what can be done. And I can’t stress this enough, because people keep ignoring it – tactics matter a great deal. A military force that uses civilians in their tactics is not only committing a war crime, but such tactics are not easy to counter. Claiming that such tactics are actually easy to counter while providing no details is a dick move. Even worse is then insisting that the other party must counter them via these magical methods or be wholly blamed for any civilian deaths from combat.

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  63. Ken_L says:

    @Andy: Andy I suggest you read some of the other comments more carefully and think about them. As the BBC photographs demonstrate very clearly, this attack did not happen in a “dense, populated urban area”. It was the opposite. Nor is the conflict remotely comparable to the battle for Manila, and you do your argument no good with such an absurd analogy. The minimal casualties the IDF has suffered this year demonstrate Hamas retains negligible fighting capabilities.

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  64. Andy says:

    @Ken_L:

    The operation occurred in a very open area (see https://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-68714128 ) so it’s not apparent how anyone in the IDF could have perceived the convoy as an imminent threat.

    Imminent threat is irrelevant. This is a war, see below.

    And there is no “war” in Gaza. There is a systematic program of killing Palestinians, some of whom may be Hamas fighters, and destroying infrastructure. Israelis casualties have been negligible (14 dead since March 1).

    You’re entitled to your opinion, but it is a war. If you think it isn’t, then you don’t get to make claims against Israel for war crimes. 😉

    The number of casualties is irrelevant. US casualties in the first Gulf War were 113 compared to up to 50k for Iraq. That is a primary goal in war – each side wants to minimize its casualties! What the fuck do you think war is? A goddamn video game? The ideal war is one where the side you are on takes no losses, and the enemy takes total losses. The fact that one side’s casualties have “only” been 14 is irrelevant. Tell me, do you know what Hamas’ casualties are? Yeah, didn’t think so.

    @steve:

    Query- Its night, you had 3 vehicles moving with 8 people, you dont know who they are, you think one might be a terrorist but you dont know who he is. When during the war would our ROE have allowed you to take them all out in those circumstances?

    I don’t think I can go much into specifics, but generally, it would come down to if you knew this individual and their pattern of life. If this were some high-level dude who you knew and followed and knew routinely traveled in a convoy for security, then yeah, I can see killing all three vehicles. If it’s some random gomer with a gun, then no. In that case, you’d probably wait to see where they were going, as they might lead to a more juicy target.

    However, the problem with the assumptions in the query is that I don’t put total faith in this report about a single random guy with a gun being the nexus for this event. Could be! But I think people are putting too much faith in this anonymous report about one “terrorist” and overly extrapolating with too much confidence. It’s an old report from a few hours after the event that appears to be single-source. I would keep my powder dry until there’s some more info or confirmation.

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  65. Andy says:

    @Ken_L:

    I was not comparing this attack to the battle for Manila. That you thought I was making that comparison is peculiar. I was specifically addressing the other, broader, convos in this thread about the conflict that are more general in nature. Not everything in this thread is about the details of this specific incident – perhaps you didn’t notice that?

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  66. Eusebio says:

    So the PM took responsibility, but also said “This happens in war”, which is not really taking responsibility. A military operation was inevitable after the terrorist attacks, but it’s disheartening to see what’s happened the last 6 months. Biden’s urging restraint since before the start of this operation has been ignored.
    And the comparisons to other wars, or to war in general, don’t seem very useful. I mean, they control the entire Gaza perimeter and have absolute air superiority, surveillance capability, and signals intelligence. Yes, that mostly doesn’t apply to the web of tunnels, but they did at least have maps of hundreds miles of tunnels as they existed years ago. They bet the farm on Shifa hospital being a tunnel-connected Hamas operations center, and finally brought in western media specifically to show that, but there turned out to be no tunnels connected to hospital buildings. Unfortunately, the credibility gap remains.

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  67. wr says:

    @Andy: ” But they could leave Rafah and go north, and various parties could provide all the logistics and assistance to make this happen,”

    I’m reminded of various right-wingers blaming poor Blacks for their own Katrina deaths because they didn’t just leave town.

    For someone who keeps accusing everyone else of “hand-wavy” ideas, I hope you’ll admit that “various parties could provide” is probably the most hand-wavy idea anyone has presented here.

    Various parties? Who might those be? The IDF? Clearly they have no interest in this. International aid organizations? Since even Jose Andres is pulling out because of the attack on their convoy, it’s hard to see who is going to come rushing in. Egypt? Jordan? Iran? Is Israel going to take the chance of letting them in? The UN? Let’s ask Bibi how much he feels like cooperating with them these days.

    All you’re doing is blaming the victims here. Shit happens in war, and if the civilians don’t like it, they sbould just move. And if they can’t move — because there’s no transportation, because the roads have been destroyed, because there is fighting and bombing all around them — well, that’s their fault for being there in the first place.

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  68. Ken_L says:

    @wr: The cynicism is extraordinary. After the IDF has herded all the Palestinians out of north/central Gaza so it can be rendered uninhabitable, they should now go back there so it can do the same to Rafah.

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  69. Andy says:

    @wr:

    For someone who keeps accusing everyone else of “hand-wavy” ideas, I hope you’ll admit that “various parties could provide” is probably the most hand-wavy idea anyone has presented here.

    I’m sorry for not providing you with a complete operations plan in my two ~1500 word blog comments. That this is the substance of your criticism – that I didn’t spell out who would provide assistance, I’ll take as a win. I thought the readership here was smart and educated enough to understand who the “various parties” would be, but apparently not. I actually have a workable idea – unlike you and most here who continue to engage in magical thinking.

    All you’re doing is blaming the victims here. Shit happens in war, and if the civilians don’t like it, they sbould just move. And if they can’t move — because there’s no transportation, because the roads have been destroyed, because there is fighting and bombing all around them — well, that’s their fault for being there in the first place.

    It’s actually the complete opposite of what you’re saying. I am not blaming the victims at all.

    Unlike you, I know something about the realities of war and urban war. And those realities are: if civilians are in the battlespace during urban warfare, lots of them will die. That is not blaming victims – that is cold, hard reality. You and many others here continue to deny that reality and believe there is some magical way to conduct a war in contested urban terrain, occupied by civilians against an enemy that uses civilians for protection, and not kill a lot of civilians.

    I seem to be the only one here who understands that the only way to protect civilians in urban combat is to get civilians out of the battlespace. I have been advocating for that for the specific reason that fewer of them will be killed – and here you are, attempting to twist that idea into me blaming the victims and saying it’s their fault. What dishonest tripe.

    And again, I would point out you have no alternative. What is your option to protect civilians beyond magical thinking, or Israel just deciding to lose the war and withdraw? You should really consider the full consequences of what you’re advocating for before you try to claim any moral high ground when it comes to your supposed concern for civilians.

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  70. Andy says:

    @Ken_L:

    The cynicism is extraordinary. After the IDF has herded all the Palestinians out of north/central Gaza so it can be rendered uninhabitable, they should now go back there so it can do the same to Rafah.

    The magical thinking is extraordinary. If Palestinian civilians had not left the north, a lot more of them would be dead. Is that what you’re advocating for? You wish they had stayed there?

    As per usual, Hamas gets zero responsibility for putting all of its fighting positions and infrastructure in, among, and under civilian infrastructure, which is a black letter war crime. And more magical thinking that it can somehow be attacked without damaging civilian infrastructure.

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  71. Lounsbury says:

    @Beth: This is a very American Presidential system mis-understanding /mis-analysis of multi-party Parliamentary systems. And a misunderstanding of my Netanyahu approach comment. Coalitional multi-party parliamentary systems, Israelis are not electing Netanyahu – it is a fairly complex result – with Netanyahu fration dominance as much from savvy amoral coalition plays as the actual voting. So the whole set of comment on “relecting Netanyahu” is misunderstanding the system via the lens of your Presidential system.

    However that is not my point – rather any country experiencing the savage attack that Hamas launched will lash out and hit back – which Hamas understood very well.

    The Netanyahu approach and failure is that a wise leader can and should channel the lashing out with an eye not merely to the immediate revenge, which there is no surpressing, but long-term state interest. Long-term state interest in the abstract different than the narrow interest of a fraction / clan staying in power (See NK, Syria) typically does not involve committing avoidable offences leading to pariah status.

    This is the primary current sin of the Netanyahu approach (as a new addendum to his primary sin of creating this situation to begin with)

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  72. steve says:

    Andy- Thx. My sense is that early in our efforts we were pretty loose on the ROE but tightened them up when we thought they were counterproductive. I agree that we should not take initial reports at face value, but that would also include the Israeli reports. ( I highly doubt there were that many vehicle convoys with a large truck running around that area at night and by report WCK had confirmed their route with Israel. Come to think of it given the fuel shortages other than aid vehicles how much traffic is there at all?) I do think there is merit in looking at the results. If Israel is unable to identify suspects or is making lots of errors the end result is that it is unsafe to provide food aid. That brings up the issue of incentives. What incentive does Israel have to change this policy if it appears to be helping them achieve their real policy goal?

    Steve

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  73. Andy says:

    @steve:

    What incentive does Israel have to change this policy if it appears to be helping them achieve their real policy goal?

    Considering the blowback from this incident runs completely counter to Israel’s goals, and very likely looks like it will be the straw that results in an Israeli strategic defeat, I do not see your argument here.

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  74. wr says:

    @Andy: “That this is the substance of your criticism – that I didn’t spell out who would provide assistance, I’ll take as a win. I thought the readership here was smart and educated enough to understand who the “various parties” would be, but apparently not. I actually have a workable idea – unlike you and most here who continue to engage in magical thinking.”

    And hey, you know exactly who should come in and lead the Gazans out to safety… but somehow in your subsequent screeds you somehow forgot to mention a single name!

    And yet everyone else is indulging in magical thinking…

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  75. wr says:

    @Andy: “If Palestinian civilians had not left the north, a lot more of them would be dead.”

    Yes. Palestinian civilians have agency. They moved so they would not be dead. Hamas has agency. Had they not attacked innocent Israelis, this was would not have happened.

    But still, it seems like there’s a third party out there who has some agency as well. It’s not like northern Gaza just decided it should blow itself up. Somebody who also had agency — and who had choice about which military tactics to use — dropped a lot of bombs there. If only we could remember who that was.

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  76. Kazzy says:

    @Gustopher: No disagreement there. But that’s a far crying from saying that Hamas could have prevented what happened yesterday. Israeli soldiers piloting Israeli drones armed with Israeli weapons used Israeli intelligence and Israeli rules of engagement to kill those people.

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  77. dazedandconfused says:

    Israel should set up refugee camps in Israel to get as many civis and aid workers as possible out of the way. This seems curiously unthinkable though.

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  78. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @dazedandconfused: I can see the problem. Shooting Palestinians in refugee camps inside Israel would be a bad look. 🙁

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  79. DrDaveT says:

    @Andy:

    I seem to be the only one here who understands that the only way to protect civilians in urban combat is to get civilians out of the battlespace.

    You also seem to be the only one here who does NOT understand that indiscriminately bombing civilian areas isn’t generally an approved CONOPS for taking out the bad guys. There is a big difference between “shit happens” and “we don’t care how many innocents we kill”.

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