Update: The Israeli Army maintains the report is not based on fact - GB
To protect them later, speak out now
It's an inevitable consequence of war, but in this day of reporting every single casualty, and with the overwhelming criticism of Israel's attempts to defend itself, the following information will no doubt be oft repeated by that nation's detractors.
An Israeli human rights group has released a report which concludes that of the 1,387 Palestinians killed during the Gaza offensive, 773 were civilians.
The rules of war have changed since the days of, say, World War II, when civilian casualties, while probably considered regrettable, were viewed as a natural outgrowth of war. You can't bomb cities without killing civilians. And cities were bombed, by both the Nazis and the Allies.
Imagine if communications, and attitudes, then were what they are now. Every death would have been counted and reported. The number of civilian deaths would have been extracted from the total. The pressure placed on the government of the United States might have caused a change in, at least, U.S. policy - and the outcome of the war - considered by most of us - myself included - as just - might have been different.
But that was then and this is now.
Let me suggest, however, that the statistics surrounding the Gaza offensive don't tell the entire story. It's easy to quickly jump to the conclusion that Israel is to blame for what was called at the time an "overwhelming response." But I don't think that really tells the entire story.
Israel retaliated only after taking a number of rocket hits for a protracted period of time and doing nothing. The government was really put in an untenable situation. The public was demanding action. And the government had to respond. Its very survival depends on the opinions of the Israeli people - not the international community.
Imagine your government watching without responding as rockets dropped on your nation from a bordering country. Even if those rockets were largely ineffective (although there have been Israeli casualties) would you expect your country to not retaliate? I would think not.
So if it is agreed that a response to the rockets was inevitable, I'd like to suggest that, if we wanted to save Palestinian civilian lives, the international community should have spoken out loudly and with indignation before the Israelis launched its attack on the Gaza.
Why is this so important today? Because, recently, the rocket's red glare has been streaming over the border from the Gaza to Israel again. Launched from the very communities from which the Israelis withdrew as a result of international pressure.
If the attacks on Israel go ignored once again, history will repeat itself. So if not for the sake of the Israelis in harm's way today, then for the sake of the Palestinians who will be in the future, it is the duty of the international community to loudly condemn the attacks on Israel.
Unfortunately, as was the case last time, as the rockets are being fired from the Gaza, the United Nations remains - typically and predictably - silent.
Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/illuminating9_11/3202880684/