This article was published in partnership with Local Call.
Israel’s latest attack on Gaza ended with 48 Palestinians killed, including 16 children. Israel claimed that 15 of those Palestinians were killed by errant rockets fired by Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), which landed inside the strip, and that Israeli airstrikes killed 24 PIJ militants and 11 “non-combatants.”
The Israeli news site Ynet quoted army officials boasting that the ratio between “non-combatants” and combatants killed was “the best of all the operations.” And yet, Israel admits that it killed at least 11 people who had nothing to do with militant activities, including a five-year-old girl.
The army also admitted that it shoots unarmed people, according to a female officer who gave an interview to Ynet after the latest onslaught. “The [PIJ] operative came down from the position as he was unarmed, and I opened fire,” she said. “When he fell, I fired more.”
The majority of Israelis believe that any children or families killed in Gaza during Israel’s military operations — the sole goal of which, of course, is security — are killed unintentionally. Unlike the terrorist organizations, the thinking goes, Israeli forces do not knowingly kill innocents. This mechanism allows Israeli society to forget scenes of blood and horror, and push out of our consciousness the hundreds of children that the army has killed in Gaza over the years.
But the reality is far more complex. Conversations with Israelis who served in various units of the IDF Intelligence Corps over the last months reveal that during its military operations, in many cases the army knows ahead of an attack that it will be killing unarmed civilians. The decision to kill them is not a mistake, but rather a calculated and conscious one.