Saturday, January 24, 2009

Small green shoot

As you can see from this shot of the wintry rooftop it's an usually foggy day in Tel Aviv. The weather matches the mood of many people in Israel (although not necessarily the majority) saddened by the Gaza war, especially by the huge toll it has taken in civilian casualties and material destruction.

Despite everything there a few positive results from the whole catastropohe might be emerging. From Israel's point of view, the world now realises that arms smuggling from Iran to Gaza via Egypt is a real problem that needs to be dealt with and might even take real action. Another is that there are hopeful signs that that the US administratioin will place us high on the agenda.

Meanwhile an article in Ha'aretz's wekeend magazine cast some light on the way that the international law department of the army accompanied and advised the military before and during the operation. "not crossing red lines but not stopping at grey ones" . The relatively free interpretation of international law provided by this unit, gave the commanders in the field enough room to manoevre in most cases to implement their main consideration - avoiding losses to their troops. The main root of the problem was of course the Hamas tactic of drawing the fighting into densely populated residential areas that they had booby-trapped. The IDF did take enormous pains to warn civilians that their area would come under attack, but as we know, that didn't always help them.

Now the same department is preparing legal defenses for cases where there might be claims of war crimes. Officers identities are being camouflaged to protect them from possible indictments and even politicians are seeking legal advice over whether they might be arrested abroad.

Finally, a small green shoot of humanity.Two young women living in Sderot area started an aid effort for their neighbours in Gaza that has snowballed all over the country. When asked how she felt about helping the poeople on the other side, one of them said, " I don't see our side or their side, I just see people on both sides."

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