The guilt issue

Gideon Levy, Haaretz, November 12:

Nineteen inhabitants of Beit Hanun were killed with malice aforethought. There is no other way of describing the circumstances of their killing. Someone who throws burning matches into a forest can’t claim he didn’t mean to set it on fire, and anyone who bombards residential neighbourhoods with artillery can’t claim he didn’t mean to kill innocent inhabitants.

Therefore it takes considerable gall and cynicism to dare to claim that the Israel Defense Forces did not intend to kill inhabitants of Beit Hanun. Even if there was a glitch in the balancing of the aiming mechanism or in a component of the radar, a mistake in the input of the data or a human error, the overwhelming, crucial, shocking fact is that the IDF bombards helpless civilians. Even shells that are supposedly aimed 200 meters from houses, into “open areas,” are intended to kill, and they do kill. In this respect, nothing new happened on Wednesday morning in Gaza: The IDF has been behaving like this for months now.

But this isn’t just a matter of “the IDF,” “the government” or “Israel” bearing the responsibility. It must be said explicitly: The blame rests directly on people who hold official positions, flesh-and-blood human beings, and they must pay the price of their criminal responsibility for needless killing. Attorney Avigdor Klagsbald caused the death of a woman and her child without anyone imagining that he intended to hit them, but nevertheless he is sitting in prison. And what about the killers of women and children in Beit Hanun? Will they all be absolved? Will no one be tried? Will no one even be reprimanded and shunned?