Friday, November 09, 2007

IAF chief says criticism against force 'unfair'

Maj.-Gen. Shkedi says air force pilots doing their utmost not to hurt civilians during air strikes against terrorists; 'I would never order my troops to hurt civilians or children,' he states IAF chief, Maj.-Gen. Eliezer Shkedi, spoke about the problematic issue of targeting terrorists operating from within the civilian population in crowded Gaza neighborhoods at a conference on terror and democracy at the Shaarei Mishpat Academic College in Hod Hasharon on Thursday.

"I would never give my troops an order to hurt civilians and children. We make every effort to hit the terrorists themselves and not the civilian population," he stated.

Shkedi addressed criticism against the accumulation of civilian casualties resulting from IAF operations in Gaza.

"Sometimes it's a statistical matter, we are all humans and we all make mistakes. We sometimes have to deal with unfair criticism… this is one of the most frustrating things."

According to Shkedi, the IAF pilots do their best not to harm innocent bystanders. "This activity causes some frustration, we do whatever

we can… to hurt only terrorists and not civilians, in order to stand by our moral commitment to only hit those we want to hit."

Shkedi said that the air strikes were effective in targeting between 1-3% of the Qassam launching cells. "If we want to fight, we have to hurt those who manufacture the Qassams, issue the orders, transport the cells, develop the explosives and everything else related to this industry. We can't ignore the other 97%."

'Israel can cut off Gaza's power'
Brig.-Gen. Avichai Mendelblit, the military advocate general, was also in attendance at the conference and he raised the issue of the legality of the suggestion to cut off power supply to Gaza.

"The cabinet has branded the Gaza Strip a hostile entity, and therefore there is no obligation to provide its citizens with their financial needs.

"Obviously, in Gaza's case the situation is much more complicated, and there are grave issues such as what is our commitment and whether Israel is still considered an occupying force, or rather a former occupying force," he explained.

"However, according to international law we are only committed to providing the most basic humanitarian needs, and we are effectively providing more than that, so this decision (to cut off electricity) can be implemented."

No comments: