Responding to Breaking the Silence


Innocent people get killed in war, sometimes because Israeli soldiers are trying to safeguard their own lives, writes Eitan Haber in response to Breaking the Silence‘s recent report on IDF conduct in the Gaza war of January 2009. Haber writes:

On many occasions during battle, it’s either us or them, and at times “them” happens to be a woman who walked in the shades, an old man who peeked at the wrong moment, or a curious child.

All those honorable members of Breaking the Silence should have made a distinction between an indiscriminate killing spree, bordering on glee, and the adoption of cautious steps, even exaggerated ones, in order to avoid harm to oneself. This is the way it works: Our troops come first.

I’ve seen a lot in my life, and regrettably I also saw the dismembered bodies of children, women, and the elderly who paid the price of war with their lives. There is no such thing as sterile wars. The question is whether Breaking the Silence realizes that soldiers fear for their lives – and fire.

This does not mean, heaven forbid, that IDF soldiers do not have the duty to be doubly careful, or that our troops our trigger-happy, but we need to say the following clearly, as cruel as it may seem: Many innocent civilians die in wars – Also, but not only, because IDF soldiers seek to safeguard their own lives, and their own lives are more important to them than the lives of others. War is not a game…

We need to say this to ourselves: The life of an IDF soldier is immeasurably worthier than the life of an innocent victim, whose death we should genuinely regret.

Full column here.

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