Sunday, January 25, 2009

1-25-09: The War in Gaza, a Personal Account

I had a great, though brief, conversation with a friend of mine from Israel about the recent skirmish in Gaza.

It didn't go quite as I expected, but I think it was actually better than I hoped. I thought he might be a bit more gung-ho about it, but he was much more mature about it. "It's unfortunate," he lamented a few times. I was a little surprised.

My friend had spent 11 years in the Israeli Air Force, so he knows a thing or two about war. He's fought in a few. I think it's good to hear from some one who's experienced it. Instead of relying on propaganda, he actually knew something about the suffering on both sides. But, in the end, he said "If I have a choice between eating shit and giving shit, I'm going to give it. It's that simple."

But my friend also spoke about his disappointment in how the Isrealis explain themselves, which I thought was a very good point. He brought up a quick example:

The Palestinian insurgents (or agents of Hamas fighting against the Israelis) could release a picture of a young child in a street, with her house destroyed behind her and her parents' bodies lying nearby. That's a powerful image, and one that CNN and other broadcasters are bound to show worldwide. Opinions are then formed that the Israelis are somehow monsters because they killed this girl's parents and ruined her life.

But as my friend pointed out, they don't show how a combatant fired a missile or shot out from that building moments before it was destroyed. And on top of that, and this is something I did not know, a lot of buildings are booby trapped to prevent Israeli soldiers from going building to building. That is to say, rather than allowing Israelis to come in and shoot the enemy, Hamas agents simply blow it up. Apparently, these bombs can even be set off if a building nearby is bombed. That is truly scary, and it's something the Israelis struggle to communicate.

In the end, I got more of a disappointed vibe from my friend, which is sad but good to see. It shows that, even some one with military experience fighting against this same enemy, there's some compassion.

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