Wednesday, April 3, 2024

The aid convoy tragedy in Gaza


I daresay by now most people have heard of the Israeli destruction of a clearly marked, position-broadcasting aid convoy in Gaza, in which seven aid workers were killed.  On the face of it, it looks to be a clear violation of every "law of war" (a misnomer if ever I heard one).  A tragedy indeed.  I don't think anyone in his right mind would dispute that.

Israel is being condemned from all sides for the attack.  To cite just one commenter:

The IDF murdered seven aid workers yesterday, three of whom were British special forces veterans, in three targeted drone strikes ... This isn’t self-defense. These attacks are not even taking place in Israel. No wonder Netanyahu is whining about how the whole world now hates Israel. Because it’s rapidly becoming impossible for any sane or impartial individual to not despise what the Israeli government and the Israeli military are doing.

More of the same can be found all over the Internet.

The attack should never have taken place, and was undoubtedly wrong.  I hope those responsible for it will face justice over their actions.  However, few people are looking below the surface.  There's more to this than you'd think.

First, Hamas has for years - no, for decades - used aid organizations and convoys as cover for its own movements.  This is beyond dispute.  Even worse, many of those aid organizations and their staff are openly partisan in their position, siding with Hamas and against Israel.  Indeed, after the October terrorism atrocities against Israel, it's known that UNRWA staff and aid workers actually assisted in holding some hostages prisoner and guarding them!  Those allegations cover almost all aid organizations in Gaza, and there's more than abundant evidence to prove them.  That being the case, you might say that any aid organization there - no matter how trustworthy and neutral it may actually be - starts out, as far as Israel is concerned, under a cloud of suspicion.  It's not a case of being regarded as innocent until proven guilty.  Rather, the assumption is that it's guilty unless and until it's proven innocent - and there won't be a lot of effort from Israel to prove that organization's innocence.  They've seen it too often.

Second, after the Israeli invasion of Gaza last year, Hamas continued to deliberately use aid vehicles and convoys to move its armed forces from place to place;  to resupply them;  and to move hostages to more secure areas to prevent Israel from freeing them.  This is beyond dispute.  There's video evidence of Hamas doing all those things;  indeed, there's video evidence of Hamas launching weapons (anti-aircraft and anti-tank missiles, bombardment rockets, etc.) from the premises of aid organizations, hospitals, etc.  Again, Israel has become accustomed to this, and now regards such premises as automatically suspect.

I don't blame them.  In their shoes, I'd have done the same thing - and, in another part of the world where I fought in a different war, that's exactly what I did, and experience seldom proved me wrong.  The amount of foreign "humanitarian" aid we found in the possession of terrorists - sometimes feeding and supporting entire terrorist base camps - was staggering.  (Do some reading about the role of, say, Norwegian People's Aid, and see for yourself.  That's just one of many organizations that were involved, including Oxfam, the Red Cross, and other very big names in the aid field.)  The concept of "neutrality" was conspicuous by its absence among most of the aid organizations we encountered.  Israel is experiencing precisely the same thing.

That reality does not excuse the strike that killed those seven aid workers, and I'm not trying to do so here.  As I've already said, I hope those responsible face justice for their actions.  However, those actions have to be viewed against a backdrop where Israel's armed forces have learned, the hard way, that any and all aid organizations are to be considered partisan rather than neutral;  where those working for them, no matter what their nationality or motivation, are to be regarded in the same way;  and where their activities are seen as potentially hostile to Israel and/or pro-Hamas, regardless of whether or not they really are either of those things.  No amount of official guidance, or standing orders, or military restrictions, can completely overcome that pre-judgment of anything that operators on the ground, conditioned by months of intensive combat, observe during the course of their duties.  Perhaps only those who've been "seasoned" by combat conditions can understand that.  Those who've never experienced that stress probably can't.

I'm pretty sure that the operator(s) who fired and guided the missiles that killed those aid workers were convinced, in their own mind, that they'd detected Hamas members and/or sympathizers dropping off supplies (which might be food or medicines, but might also include weapons) to terrorists.  Hamas has used ambulances to do precisely that on previous occasions, and aid convoys and shipments too, so this would be nothing new.  The fact that the charity in question had informed Israel of this movement, and its vehicles were broadcasting their identity and location, makes precisely no difference where such suspicions are concerned.  The ambulances and aid vehicles Hamas had previously used to distribute supplies had been doing exactly the same thing.  In a very real sense, part of the responsibility for the deaths of those seven aid workers lies with Hamas for making such activities automatically suspicious in the eyes of the Israeli military.  If I'd been on duty that night, watching for enemy movement in my sector, I'd have presumed that too.  I'd have been pre-conditioned to do so by my enemy's own previous actions.

I think that's why those seven aid workers died.  They were in a place where it was difficult to move around safely at the best of times, and in the wartime conditions that now prevail there, it's actively dangerous.  I'm not going to say they should not have been there - that was their own choice, and I honor their courage in being willing to put their lives on the line for what they believed in - but by being there, they made the choice to put themselves in danger.  Tragically, that danger caught up with them.  It should not have done so . . . but it did.

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu is belligerent, defensive, not inclined to cut aid organizations and international opinion any slack.  I think there's much about him to dislike;  but, in this instance, he's correct to say bluntly that "It happens in war".  It does.  It's happened in almost any war you care to name, including wars fought by US forces, who have been in the past as guilty of targeting innocent aid workers in other countries as Israel is today in Gaza.

May those who died rest in peace.  May their sins be forgiven them, and their compassion for their fellow human beings be rewarded;  and may their families and co-workers receive what comfort they may.  May justice be done for their deaths, and may the example of their deaths help to prevent - or, at least, minimize - such tragedies in future.  Nevertheless, don't see this as a deliberate, planned massacre by Israel of aid workers.  I think it's simply the overwhelming realities "on the ground" in Gaza overriding discretion and other potential explanations.

If I'd been in those drone operators' shoes, I might have pulled the trigger myself.  In another war, on another continent, based on what I knew in that place at that time, I had to make similar snap operational decisions.  I'll never know for sure (in this life, at any rate) whether they were the right ones.



Anonymous said...

There's another factor. Israel goes to great lengths--including routinely and as a matter of doctrine-- putting its own personnel at risk of death to avoid hurting the women and children of an enemy which deliberately kills Israeli women and children and uses its own as human shields.

For Hamas, the deaths of women amd children on both sides, the more gruesome the better, are tactical and strategic positives.

Dale Wright said...

how many aid convoys give off secondary explosions?

NobobyExpects said...

USS Liberty again.

Anonymous said...

Are we sure these aid workers are innocent or are the too partisan?

Aesop said...

"Clearly marked".


And Saddam was running a 'Baby Milk Factory', with barbed wire and armed guards.

HTF do people think Hamas smuggled in all the infrastructure and weaponry in the first place?

All of Gaza is about two hours' brisk walk from the farthest inland reaches to the ocean. So how about the needy walk to the beach and get their groceries there? Then there's no need for "aid convoys" to be bopping around a hot war zone in the first place.

Anonymous said...

I was going to ask about evidence they weren't what they say.
I assumed there would be some...

Thomas said...

I'll say it, then.
They should not have been there. It was foolish to be there and highly risky. It seems that almost all Western humanitarian NGO's are by nature very partisan, and most cases take the side of the group who is most Anti-Western. I'm sorry those people are dead. But, they weren't helping Israelis, were they. They had already picked a side.

Chris Nelson said...

Aid workers were naive idiots.

History both very recent and decades in the past has indicated that no one is safe from Israeli air power in a war zone no matter what identification or flags might be displayed on their vehicles or ship.

Anonymous said...

The only clear winner in this conflict is the Kingdom of darkness. Muslim, Jewish, atheist non Christians entering a Christless eternity

stencil said...

Just in idle curiosity, how many international relief agencies went rushing into western Israel in the second week of October?

MrGarabaldi said...

Hey Peter,

It is called "The Fog Of War" for a reason, And I am convinced that hamas leaked the intel on the convoy movement to get the Israeli's to fire a hellfire into the convoy to embarrass them on the world stage and heap further condemnation on them. To hamas, people dying for their cause is perfectly acceptable especially if it civilians and aid workers, better propaganda value. hamas learned well from their old soviet masters well how to manipulate the gullible western media.

McChuck said...

Any group deliberately supporting Muslims, especially Palestinians in a war zone, is automatically guilty. They claim to be Christian, but give material aid and comfort to our mortal enemies.

Anonymous said...

In fairness to the aid agencies, most aren't structured to respond to incidents like the October 7th attacks, but are structured to respond to long-term events like the Gaza war.

Anonymous said...

Reason 12,344,216,825,975.1 the US should NOT be getting involved in any of this. It's been like this for the last 3000 years, don't touch it!

Mad celt said...

You try flying over a site at those speeds and read the signs on a vehicle. Besides, aid personnel have no business in a war zone.

Landroll said...

The friend of my enemy is not my friend, regardless of what Karen thinks.

J. C. Salomon said...

This particular group (World Central Kitchen) seems to have been non-partisan, independent of Hamas; they’ve even come to help Israelis displaced due to the Simchas Torah massacres and subsequent rocketry.

Rick T said...

Peter, the reality on the ground doesn't need to excuse the strike, it compelled it. Aid convoys are de-facto Hamas transportation assets, and all the NGOs tolerate and enable it. If they don't they die anyway but at the hands of Hamas.

Any 'aid' worker going into Gaza today is going there for two reasons and only one of them is to deliver aid to the people there.

HMS Defiant said...

Gaza is a small place. Why are convoys running around delivering who knows what anyway? And, is there an actual shortage of gazans to run around delivering food in gaza?
What happened to the expectation of harm coming to those who keep putting themselves in harm's way?
I do think that one of the things the Israelis are finally figuring out is that they really don't have any friends anywhere and that without friends is a cold and lonely place to be. But you know who has even fewer friends, that's right. You still see ZERO offers from any country to resettle the terrorists called Palestinians from Gaza.
Food workers driving around in armored vehicles?
One of the few likable things about the old JAGMAN investigations was that they tortured the truth and the facts out of any given disaster and laid it bare to see what really happened, who was at fault and who should be punished. Kind of wish the media did anything like that.

Beans said...

The Aid Workers had just as much right to be in Gaza as Otto Warmbier had to be in North Korea.

Harsh, but true.

And they got basically the same treatment.

Does it suck? Maybe. Be interesting to find out if the aid workers were radicalized or highly polarized against Israel. Which they most likely were. And if so, well, screw them.

Truly a FAFO moment.

No tears shed by me over this. Actually a dark laugh moment of schadenfreude. Much like over the idiots who try to hitchhike or bike through the Middle East because 'we're all one big human family.' Yeah, no.

It's like crying over tourists who go to view an active volcano who die from said volcano. Or people who go to help various socialist revolutions in South America (admittedly, most of those revolutions have died off for some reason or another) or in Africa (Africa always wins, sadly.)

Seriously. Go to a dangerous place and don't expect to take a dirt nap? I've read reports that many aid workers in places like this get raped or robbed by the very people they're trying to 'help' and yet they always seem to blame the group that opposes the group that is being 'helped' for the ill treatment.

Bah. Idiots. What's next, complaining some stupid foreigners got run over by tanks or construction/demolition equipment?

Stealth Spaniel said...

Stupid people, who had no business in that area. They voluntarily gave up their lives, their fortunes, and their futures to other people who considered them only worthy of death. The fact that Israel fired the weapons is irrelevant. Hamas has no qualms about any of this other than to incite college kids. When did this kind of illogical and foolish thinking is going on in Western Men that do this? Some were British; it's not like GB isn't under seige from diversity and idiocy. Stay home and fix your own backyard!

Ozborn said...

The convoy destruction is understandable. Bad place, bad time, already tainted by association.

But with Israel's international reputation already under pressure, killing off "aid" workers from the Euro-bloc and Australia isn't going to help them retain friends, and it'll get used as propaganda by their enemies. Hopefully someone in the kill chain considered the ramifications, and decided the shoot was worth it (potential problem stopped, warning to other aid workers, hampered operations that support Palestinians, etc.), vs potential stoppage of financial and military support from the home counties of the killed.

From a PR perspective ithis looks like a mistake, but perhaps it'll blow over - or this, plus the embassy bombing in Damascus, plus Pallywood's best feature films, will combine into a narrative painting Israel as a pariah state operating outside all international norms and laws. They've got a tightrope to walk with this war, and need to get to the other side quickly.

Anonymous said...

This was a deliberate attack just like the U.S.S Liberty.

Anonymous said...

No place for these Einsatzgroupies? What about hostage /human shield volunteers!

TCK said...

Hamas has FOR DECADES proven that any and all "humanitarian aid" shipments are de facto military targets. The fact that they were operating in Hamas controlled territory is the only justification Israel needs to blow them up.

Anonymous said...

No one was "flying over" anything in the drone that blew up the three vehicles, all clearly marked, one, after another, after another, patiently waiting for survivors to board the next one each time, then firing another missile. Those three ex-British Special Ops heroes were executed by a drone operator, and the footage from that operator's monitor shows the unmistakable logo, as the missile penetrates it. And the victims, only one of whom (one of the drivers) was Palestinian, radioed in after each and every missile was fired, and we're recognized on the radio. If Israel isn't going to respect their own rules for how humanitarian organizations must act in order to not be murdered, then they need to explicitly state that, so aid workers know that they might become convenient targets at any given time, regardless of Israel's official policies. The least they can do is offer informed consent before slaughtering them, no? If the aid workers and convoys are too much of a risk, then Israel needs to ban them from Gaza etc. They cannot have their cake and eat it too.

Unknown said...

"The people responsible for the attach that should be held responsible" are probably not the ones who pulled the trigger. There was probably a lengthy chain of people involved with coordinating the convoy, doing whatever inspection was done, and coordinating with the shooting forces to tell them that these particular vehicles were not to be attacked.

There are a LOT of places where something could have gone wrong.

(that's assuming that this was a pre-authorized convoy that went through proper coordination and was on-schedule)

Dan said...

Hamas routinely sets up their terror ships in schools, hospitals and apartment buildings. Only a moron would believe they don't make use of partisan aid workers to facilitate their terror plans.

MN Steel said...

This is almost as brazen as bombing a consulate in a third country.

And I don't mean the 1999 Belgrade Chinese consulate bombing targetted by the CIA.

Anonymous said...

So you'll be totes fine when Israel blows up the US navy-built-and-operated floating harbor, right? Because "operating in Hamas controlled territory" is the prerequisite. I bet you cheered when the USS Liberty was sunk.

Anonymous said...

Nobody said Hamas hasn't used aid workers in the past, or even yesterday.
*Everybody* said *this particular convoy* was *explicitly cleared and following the routes they were instructed by Israel to follow* and they radioed in after each missile strike, once they'd transferred to the next target vehicle. It didn't matter. Reading comprehension much?
Okay (although I'm half-certain this is gonna be like the "how would you feel if you hadn't had breakfast today" "but I *did* have breakfast!" thing, I'm still going to try) imagine, you're an Uber driver. You're hired to pick up a celebrity. In the recent past, bad people have repeatedly used fake (or even real, suborned) Uber drivers to attempt to assassinate this celebrity. So you get official, explicit permission to go to this celebrity's house to pick him up, the celebrity's security people give you a super special decal to ID your cars, and a map with an explicitly labeled route to follow. There are two extra cars, so enemies have to guess which one the celebrity will be in, and some former bodyguards are onboard as supplemental security. Then some of the celebrity's security people start shooting at one of the cars. They blow it up, but everyone manages to get out, and transfer to the two remaining vehicles. The former bodyguards in the cars radio in to the security people, and are acknowledged, and told to proceed. Then the security people blow up the second vehicle. People are dead now. The former bodyguards radio in again, and are again told to proceed. Then the final vehicle is blown up, and everyone dies. This is all caught on video, and on the security people's bodycams. I'll cut to the chase: those security people are going to prison for murder.
Even the Nazis were cautious about deliberately slaughtering alleged medics and aid workers. And you'd better believe the resistance movements used fake aid convoys etc to transport people and weapons. The Nazis still didn't change their policies to make it totally fair game to blow up such convoys without thoroughly investigating, first. War had rules now for a reason. Because the alternative is the horrors of the hundred years war, for instance. Europe did the whole "total war" thing in the past. It almost destroyed them. That's why they don't do it anymore. What's the point of ruling over a blackened cinder?

Charlie said...

@anon at 8:52

Yes, I will be 'totes fine' when that dock is blown the hell up.

Anonymous said...

Even though it's manned, defended, and operated by American Sailors? Dang. Either you're not American, and you really hate America, or you're a traitor. You'll be absolutely fine with American Marines and sailors being burned alive by Israeli missiles. I suppose if you're not American, and hate America, that's understandable, even though I despise you for it. If you're American and feel that way, I wish you'd go to a meeting of gold star families and tell them, so they can tar and feather you as you deserve. Or maybe your local VFW post will do the job? Either way, you don't love this country? Feel free to leave it. Assuming you're here, of course.

- de-googled anon who wrote the post @ 8:52

Rich said...

Give it a rest! How many times has the US govt f'ed over others. Kurds, Armenians, South Vietnamese and the latest Afghanistan.
You Jew haters have nothing better to do than drag out a naval trajedy that happened 47 years ago in the fog of war.
Let's keep hating the Japanese for Pearl harbour, or the Germans for Kasarine or the South for the Civil war, or the Brits for taxation without representaion and the Revolutionary war.
How far back do you have to go before your hatred of a people is assuaged?
Or is it JUST because they are Jews?

Rich said...

Blah Liberty blah blah. A tragedy, yes. Let it go.

Rich said...

History says otherwise. Mistakes were made, tragically, lives were lost. It's war.

Paul, Dammit! said...

I see an upside here. Aid workers, who, let's be honest, are the prime source of weapons, intel and support for HAMAS on scene, now have to put their mouths where the money is, so to speak, now that we know carte blanche no longer exists for their actions... even though the majority are, no doubt, innocents trying to be kind.

So, the Dutch and Swedish children of wealthy parents who are underwriting the invasion boats that pick up Africans and Middle Easterners at their local beaches and sail them to Italy, had loaded their invasion craft with a bunch of 'aid' prior to all this, and first they turned around and returned to port the day after Israel announced they would be managing the unloading and distribution of 'aid' themselves, and then on sailing again after changing out some of the cargo (lol) , after this incident when the workers got their tickets punched, the Dutch and Swedish children of rich people suddenly had something else to do, and the invasion craft returned to base again.

Anonymous said...

Did not know there was actually a statistically significant number of Christians in Gaza and the West Bank. Makes me loathe the pastors who gleefully rail about "killing them all" even more. May such false "shepherds" get the reward due them for wishing death upon Christians.

- de-googled anon who wrote the posts at 8:52 and 6:52.