The IDF: The Moral Army

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Here’s how it works.

The bomblets, while lethal to people, are mostly ineffective against brick or stone walls and armor.  Thus a hit on or near an unarmored rocket launcher will most likely kill the launcher’s operators and thus disable the launcher, but even a direct hit on a fully encapsulated armored launcher will merely make a horrible noise, and probably leave the operators, protected inside the armored operating area, pretty much unharmed and able to continue firing rockets.  Therefore, the use of air-to-ground cluster bombs against armored rocket launchers is doomed to be far less effective than would be the use of conventional air-to-ground rockets.  Israel’s choice of cluster bombs instead of conventional rockets meant that more Hezbollah rocket launcher crews would survive Israeli attacks and be able to continue launching rockets into Israel, killing more Israelis.

So why did Israel make such a counter-productive choice? Because Hezbollah intentionally stationed it launchers in places that would put nearby civilians in danger, just as Hamas did in the Gaza Strip. Hezbollah rocket launchers on the roof tops of hospitals and schools created severe and imminent danger to the civilians inside of those buildings, because Israeli attacks with conventional missiles would be likely to penetrate the roof and kill innocent Arabs below.  Even a direct hit on a launcher would endanger Arabs in the lower floors because the explosion could cause the roof to collapse, dropping the launcher and its exploding rockets directly into the hospital wards and classrooms of the buildings beneath the Hezbollah launchers.

With cluster bombs, Hezbollah terrorists operating the launchers might be killed, but the roof would not collapse and the civilians below would be unharmed.  But if the rocket launchers were armored, they could continue to bombard Israeli civilians, because, protected by armor, the Hezbollah operators would be unharmed in the spray of bomblets.  Similarly, Hezbollah stationed many rocket launchers in narrow alleys of dense residential areas.  Conventional rocket attacks would have destroyed most launchers but carried the risk of penetrating the walls of nearby homes and killing civilians.  Moreover, a direct hit from a conventional rocket could ignite the unfired munitions of the Hezbollah launcher, sending them exploding into nearby buildings of the civilian population.  Cluster bomblets, however, could destroy launchers in the streets, but would not penetrate brick or stone walls, and would not ignite the unfired rockets.  Israel intentionally used ordnance that was less effective against enemy positions, but safer for Arab civilians.  As a result, many rocket launchers survived Israeli air-to-ground missile attacks and continued bombarding Israeli civilians. This was the price that Israel chose to pay in order to avoid harming Arab civilians.

But Israel went even further.  After the war, Israel published a map identifying the Hezbollah positions which sustained cluster-bomb attacks, so that the UN and the Lebanese army could search those areas for unexploded bomblets and thus reduce risk to Arab civilians living in those areas.

Israel behaved in a similar manner before and during its invasion of the Gaza Strip. Prior to the invasion, Israel dropped tens of thousands of leaflets into Gaza, telling the civilians to leave what would soon become the combat zones within the Gaza Strip.  Israel also broke into Hamas radio broadcasts to announce the imminent invasion and tell civilians to flee.  Then, hours before the operation, hundreds of Israeli Arabic-speaking technicians prepared recorded phone messages that were dialed into the phones of more than 160,000 Arabs in the Gaza Strip, warning them to flee in advance of the invasion.  By doing so, the IDF forewarned Hamas as to when and where the combat would be.

No nation anywhere in the world, throughout all of world history, has ever done so much to protect enemy civilians:  and all this while Hamas and Hezbollah intentionally put their own civilians in harm’s way, and boasted about it (see here, here and here).  These terrorists use their own as human shields precisely because they know that the IDF will do whatever it can to avoid harming civilians, even to the detriment of its own operations, even when it endangers its own soldiers.

Hamas and Hezbollah know what Israel’s detractors deny: no army anywhere in the world, at any time in history, has ever done what Israel does routinely to protect enemy civilians even at the cost of endangering its own, military and civilian, and reducing the effectiveness of its military in combat.

Colonel Kemp is correct.

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  • stern

    But don't you get it? Israel isn't allowed to do ANYTHING to defend herself. Even the targeted killings of Yassin, head of Hamas, and subsequently, his replacement, the kindly old paediatrician, were criticized widely.

    The only thing Israel is allowed to do is disappear.

    • Raymond in DC

      Right. If actions deemed "indiscriminate" or "collective punishment" draw condemnation, and "targeted killings" do likewise, what permitted actions remain?

  • AnAmericaninIsrael

    I have followed Israel's defense forces for some time now; and I can attest to the
    article's accuracy; but I don't understand WHY the IDF(and by extension to the political
    sphere, American Jews) is so kind to its enemies.WHAT do they get from it? Are they trying to teach morality to radical Islam? If so, does that work? I don't advocate being purposely cruel; however, the business of not using cluster bombs because the rounds might kill civilians, or cause a roof to collapse, is nonsense. Jews are treated differently from the rest of the world, partly because they behave differently, and here is the proof.

    • ziontruth

      "…but I don't understand WHY the IDF(and by extension to the political sphere, American Jews) is so kind to its enemies."

      The way I see it, it all stems from the mistaken idea that Judaism equals humanistic pacifism (i.e. Judaism as Gandhi with a few Jewish-specific trappings). It's Norman Podhoretz's "Torah of Liberalism" thesis, to which I'm quite partial (also explains why so many American Jews vote Dem against their best interests).

      "I don't advocate being purposely cruel;"

      Neither does the Torah. But the Sages said, "He who is merciful to the cruel will end up being cruel to the merciful." The Torah forbids wanton barbarism in the style of Genghis Khan, but equally condemns Gandhian pacifism as a transgression that aids and abets evil in the world.

  • Sue

    I had a colleague once who told me that I was bullied by my boss constantly because I didn’t make a peep. I allowed it to happen but once I stood up to him, he backed off. Sometimes, you just have to have a spine.

    • 9/11Bystander

      Rabbi Hillel once said, "If I am not for myself, who am I? If I am not for others, what am I?' Notice, the "WHO" comes before the "WHAT."

  • Chiggles

    Ordnance, not "ordinance".

  • UCSPanther

    The double standard that is applied to the IDF is sickening. The world yells and screams if the IDF gives some murderous terrorist thugs a well-deserved beating for their crimes (IE Arafat, Yassin, etc), but they hardly bat an eye if other ME regimes murder civilians or purge political enemies.

  • Stan

    I wouldn't call it the most "humane" army– armies aren't supposed to be "humane," after all. But it is certainly true that the IDF is the most *morally-restrained* army in human history.

    It is a telling fact about the ferocity of worldwide anti-Israel propaganda that the IDF is often compared to one of the most barbaric armed forces in recent memory, the Wehrmacht. Someone who can't tell the difference between those two is someone who cannot tell the difference between anything and– something else.

  • Brujo Blanco

    The Israelis have proven their morality by their action. Their enemies have demonstrated by their actions and words that they have a mission which is to exterminate every Jew in the world. The international MSM has elected to write off the murders of Jews and to not believe what he Islamoterrorist say about themselves.

  • John_Kelly

    This is just an observation from a Gentile who has nothing but admiration for Israel.

    Israel which is about the same size as New Jersey and makes up approximately 1% of the Middle East land mass, is the most courageous & inspirational nation on planet earth (EVER) as Israel has continuously overcome insurmountable odds in the most hostile neighborhood on the planet.

    Shalom Israel !!!!!

    • stern

      Thank you!

      • John_Kelly

        Shalom Stern.

  • Vermont Yid

    In my not so humble opinion, the problem with the Israeli military is the Israeli government. The IDF is being run by politicians – a bunch of pussies whose backsides are safe while Israel's best are unnecessarily being put at greater risk because the politicians are worried about world opinion. SCREW WORLD OPINION!

    Dissolve the Keneset. Throw every last one of them out. Put the IDF in charge of the IDF! And while you're at it, empty the yeshivas and put them in IDF uniforms. If they don't want to fight – fine, let them drive munition trucks, let them cook for the IDF, let them sew uniforms or make boots, but get them off their lazy azzes and have them actually do something productive when it comes to the defense of Israel. If they refuse, send them to Iran! But wait, let me tell you how I really feel about them.

    • ziontruth

      "In my not so humble opinion, the problem with the Israeli military is the Israeli government."

      100% agree.

      "Dissolve the Keneset. Throw every last one of them out. Put the IDF in charge of the IDF!"

      I don't agree completely. Put who in charge of the IDF? Though the government is undoubtedly the problem, there are enough heads of the IDF who share the cowardly, appeasing, politically correct mindset of the parliament members. It is critical to put people of right opinion in charge of the future Jewish Army.

      "And while you're at it, empty the yeshivas and put them in IDF uniforms."

      100% disagree. Without HaShem, the Jewish people is nothing. There may be too many people in the yeshivahs, too many who aren't the best and brightest of the Jewish world and would be better off with productive jobs, but to empty the yeshivahs entirely—no go. Torah Study is the be-all and end-all of Jewish existence, the purpose for HaShem's creation of the Jewish nation. The yeshivah students are our first and last line of defense.

      "If they refuse, send them to Iran! But wait, let me tell you how I really feel about them."

      No need to tell anything more, it's plain to see you miss the glory days of the Soviet Union.

  • Bert

    Ironically it is Israeli restraint that fuels much of the attacks against Israel. The Arabs have shown repeatedly that extermination and not peace is their goal. The IDF often violates a Jewish teaching which says, 'If an enemy comes to kill you, rise up early, and kill him first.'
    This worked well in 1967 with preemption. A big victory resulted and fear among the Arabs.
    But in 1973 Kissinger bullied Israel into waiting to be attacked first. They suffered many casualties and lost their deterrence effect.
    Sometimes peace requires a terrible war to totally crush the enemy and knock the aggression out of them as with Germany and Japan in WWII.

  • Asher

    Defense is Defense, and Political correctness is attacking both the United States and Israel's right to defend themselves. All nations have the right to defend themselves against Terrorists and aggressors who want to destroy peace, civilization, prosperity, and unity!

  • KKKK

    Israel is not only concerned about protecting the right to life of civilians; they are concerned to the level of absourd. they even go enormous lengths to protect women and children from being harmed by their troops. of the 1400 "Palestinains" killed in the Gaza Way of 2008-2009 winter, over two-thrids were Hamas fighters. and when they Qanna in Lebanon (2006) they complaiend that Hezbollah "uses civilians as shields."

  • jacob

    What I won't be able to ever understand, is the reason why the Israeli govmt. abstains from repaying HAMAS indiscriminate bombing of South Israel in kind…

    I see no logical reason to risk pilot lives, costly aircraft and ordnance for pinpoint liquidation of terrorists either in the act of firing their rockets and mortars or on the
    way to do it, which earns it the condemnatuon of the EU and UN fools for
    "Disproportionate Reaction", when the same rocketes and mortars can be fired on
    GAZA as indiscriminatedly as HAMAS fires his on Israel and if it would play havoc
    due to GAZA's population density, this should have been taken into consideration
    by their "leaders" before embarking in such actions….
    Unfortunately, Israeli "leaders" will never learn that all those who are made out of
    sugar, usually end up eaten by the ants and moreover with such enemy

  • Hollywood Jeff

    Israel 'Über Alles!

    • ziontruth

      You're a bit confused, my friend. The heirs of the Nazis today are the "Allahu Akbar"-shouting Muslims, murderers of Christians on Christmas day and sworn enemies and would-be murderers of the Jews everywhere.

      It's "Islam Über Alles" that should have you up in the arms. Unless, of course, you're a sympathizer with Islam's imperialist aggression as all Marxist Leftists are.

    • UCSPanther

      Look up the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem.

      The Arabs have him to thank for infecting the Middle East with German antisemitism.

  • jacob

    But the epitome of hate, is the article written by some Israeli (?) lefty claiming
    Israeli soldiers were DISCRIMINATORS because they abstained form raping
    Arab women during the relatively recent CAST LEAD operation in GAZA…..

    Is there any precise word in English to qualify such braying ??????

  • AL__
  • aspacia


  • EdwinS

    Underzog couldnt be more on the money.
    The duty of the army is to protect the homeland and then, to protect the troops. The pathetic need for world approval led to the deaths of Jewish soldiers so that enemy civilians should survive. "Look at us – we sacrifice our own boys so that you – the rest of the world- might say that we are the most moral army.. Soldiers die so that the world press might applaud.
    This is a disgusting betrayal.
    Israeli leadership makes me vomit.

  • ziontruth

    "The principle in the Tannakh against Amalek would do better and serve as an explanation why the enemy cannot use humans as body army."

    There's no need to go that far—not just because there are no known Amalekites today, but also because Jewish Law has a general ruling regarding warfare that is just fitting for enemies such as the Jewish State faces.

    The Jewish Laws of warfare are in the golden medium between Genghis and Gandhi. They say that, if the enemy takes care to put their civilians out of harm's way, it is forbidden for the Jewish army to harm them; but if the enemy puts their civilians in the line of fire—as the Muslims purposely do—then it is permitted for the Jewish army to fire indiscriminately, and the innocent blood is on the enemy's hand for using the civilians so cynically.

    I remember first reading those laws. I was simply struck how gosh-darn sensible they are. And I'm still frustrated beyond words that my government is still fumbling for various leeways, loopholes and wiggle-room within international "law" instead of perusing the amazing system of law the Jewish people has received, a system of law both sensible and having more authority than any other system.

  • Matt

    70 years ago the US, Great Britain & their allies targeted German civilian population centres as a deliberate tactic, killing & injuring many enemy civilians, yet here we are 2 generations later & the Jews are the scorn of the worlds media for entertaing any military action that MAY endanger the life of even one Arab (who in all likelyhood wants all Jews dead).
    The hypocracy is astounding

  • John_Kelly

    Great comments Underzog. Keep up the good work!