Casualties in Perspective

The culture of life vs. the culture of death.

israeli-tankThus far, 32 members of Israel’s Defense Forces have been tragically killed while defending their homeland. Hamas has likely suffered more than 10 times that amount but that will be confirmed after the dust settles when an objective analysis, unmuddied by Hamas shills, can be performed . Every one of those IDF boys represents the salt of the earth but now is not the time for despondency. Now is the time for fortitude and perseverance.

Just to place things in proper perspective, 6,000 Israelis were killed during Israel's 1948 War of Independence. 700 died during the Six-Day war and 2,200 died during the Yom Kippur War. No one back then dared to question the nation’s resolve or suggested anything short of complete victory. The people of Israel were aware of the stakes. They were cognizant of the fact that a loss would spell disaster and so they persevered and endured and grieved only after the battle was won.

A few more little known facts. Tiny Finland, whose population in 1939 stood at just under four million, suffered 26,000 killed during its heroic stand against the Soviet Union shortly after the outbreak of World War II. Twelve thousand American soldiers died in 1945 while securing fortress Okinawa, a spec in the Pacific which the Japanese transformed into a modern-day Shuja’iya. A tiny pimple of a hill on that island called Sugar Loaf produced a 7-day battled that claimed 2,000 US marine casualties. 

No soldier, not the heroic Israeli Centurion tank commander on the volcanic, rocky plateau of the Golan Heights, or the paratrooper advancing on Ammunition Hill, or the muddy, drenched marine on Okinawa, or the frozen Finnish soldier facing off against a Soviet tank with a Molotov cocktail, ever wavered for a second from the ultimate goal, which was total defeat of the enemy. During the early 1950s, Moshe Dayan gave a standing order to his troops that unless they suffered casualties in excess of 50%, they were required to carry on with the mission at hand. There was to be no retreat, no surrender. That spirit and ethic carries over to the IDF till this day.

Israel is a small country where everybody knows everybody and everyone has a friend who has a friend. Naturally, Israelis are sensitive to casualties perhaps more so than other nations and certainly more so than its genocidal neighbors where wholesale slaughter is the norm. But casualties, however painful, are a predictable byproduct of war and no one expected an incursion into Gaza, with its labyrinth of tunnels, abundance of human shields and dense urban environment, to be a cakewalk.

The fascist, soulless enemy is aware of Israel’s sensitivity and attempts to exploit it to their advantage by engaging in psychological warfare, making extravagant claims that are steeped in fantasy. Thus the “capture” of an expired soldier’s dog tag is immediately and absurdly transformed into a kidnapping and the firing of an anti-tank missile that is intercepted and obliterated by a Trophy anti-missile defense system immediately produces false claims of a destroyed Merkava.

But what the enemy doesn’t realize is that Israel’s perceived sensitivity to loss of life is actually its source of strength. The sanctity of life is paramount and that is why Israel’s soldiers fight with such ferocity and heroism for they know that while they are fighting a genocidal, maniacal enemy, they are protecting their wives, husbands, fathers, mothers, brothers and sisters. 

As the IDF continues its mission, the nation of Israel stands unified and solidly behind the army's efforts. More casualties are expected but the IDF will ultimately prevail and enemy will be destroyed, just as he was in 1948, 1956, 1967, 1973, 1982, 2002, 2006, 2009 and 2012. Israel had to win those wars because a loss would have produced the unthinkable. This war is no exception.

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