IDF reservist who served in Gaza war writes to person behind ‘list of war criminals’
by Yoav Keren
To be honest, I was a little insulted. I looked for myself on the list of 200 Operation Cast Lead war criminals published online last week but didn’t find what I was looking for. I performed almost a month of reserve duty during the operation, yet nothing; no mention. Not even a small one.
Even a low-ranking female soldier got to enter the list of war criminals, and was even graced with a Facebook photo in civilian clothing, engaged in yoga. Not to mention those pilots; finally we could see their faces (and also their addresses and military ID numbers)
As it turns out, the Israeli who produced the list – and there is almost no doubt it’s an Israeli, who is intimately familiar with the IDF – did not do a particularly thorough job. In any case, he missed me.
I served in the Gaza Division war room for 26 days and saw everything in real time. I saw how every time we had to curb Qassam fire from populated areas, officials considered it seven times and meticulously calculated the firing range and angle, as not to hurt civilians by mistake.
I also saw how, to be on the safe side, the army consulted with its legal advisor and with a representative of the Coordination and Liaison Administration who were regularly deployed in the war room.
I saw the great seriousness in addressing a water pipe that burst in Rafah, and the kind of effort invested in order to bring food into the Strip and allow ambulances to evacuate wounded Palestinians from the war zone.
I also participated in assessment sessions with the division commander; a major part of them pertained to humanitarian issues.
I walked around Sderot, which looked like a ghost town after sustaining dozens of Qassam rockets, and I also saw the Grad missiles making their way to Ashkelon without anybody being able to stop them. Believe me, it’s not a heart-warming sight.
I’m no longer afraid
In short, I was there, and according to the twisted standards of the various list producers this apparently turns me into a war criminal as well.
Here’s a small confession: In the wake of Operation Cast Lead, I was thinking of posting photographs from my reserve service on my Facebook page. I’m not talking about photos alongside Palestinian detainees, heaven forbid; just regular images of me sitting with the guys at the division’s canteen. I didn’t do it because I was afraid that one day, when I travel abroad, these photos may incriminate me.
Yet I’m no longer afraid, because I realized that I’m in good company. Not only the army chief and Southern Command chief and Air Force chief, but also anyone who serves in the IDF is by definition a war criminal apparently. And as any soldier who walks the streets in uniform may find himself in one blacklist or another, even if he serves as a cook in an Air Force munitions base, I have no reason to hide.
So for the benefit of the producer of the abovementioned list: My name is Yoav Keren, I’m a reserve major, and my personal ID number is 5030397. You can find out my address on your own. So the next time you update the list of war criminals, you can add me too. But if you use a photo from Facebook, at least make sure it’s a good one.
More Quotes About "Palestine"
"There is no such country as Palestine. 'Palestine' is a term the Zionists invented. There is no Palestine in the Bible. Our country was for centuries part of Syria. 'Palestine' is alien to us. It is the Zionists who introduced it".
- Auni Bey Abdul-Hadi, Syrian Arab leader to British Peel Commission, 1937 -
"There is no such thing as Palestine in history, absolutely not".
- Professor Philip Hitti, Arab historian, 1946 -
"It is common knowledge that Palestine is nothing but Southern Syria".
- Representant of Saudi Arabia at the United Nations, 1956 -
Concerning the Holy Land, the chairman of the Syrian Delegation at the Paris Peace Conference in February 1919 stated:
"The only Arab domination since the Conquest in 635 c.e. hardly lasted, as such, 22 years".
"There is not a solitary village throughout its whole extent (valley of Jezreel, Galilea); not for thirty miles in either direction... One may ride ten miles hereabouts and not see ten human beings. For the sort of solitude to make one dreary, come to Galilee... Nazareth is forlorn... Jericho lies a mouldering ruin... Bethlehem and Bethany, in their poverty and humiliation... untenanted by any living creature... A desolate country whose soil is rich enough, but is given over wholly to weeds... a silent, mournful expanse... a desolation... We never saw a human being on the whole route... Hardly a tree or shrub anywhere. Even the olive tree and the cactus, those fast friends of a worthless soil had almost deserted the country... Palestine sits in sackcloth and ashes... desolate and unlovely...".
- Mark Twain, "The Innocents Abroad", 1867 -
"In 1590 a 'simple English visitor' to Jerusalem wrote: 'Nothing there is to bescene but a little of the old walls, which is yet remayning and all the rest is grasse, mosse and weedes much like to a piece of rank or moist grounde'.".
- Gunner Edward Webbe, Palestine Exploration Fund,
Quarterly Statement, p. 86; de Haas, History, p. 338 -
"The land in Palestine is lacking in people to till its fertile soil".
- British archaeologist Thomas Shaw, mid-1700s -
"Palestine is a ruined and desolate land".
- Count Constantine François Volney, XVIII century French author and historian -
"The Arabs themselves cannot be considered but temporary residents. They pitched their tents in its grazing fields or built their places of refuge in its ruined cities. They created nothing in it. Since they were strangers to the land, they never became its masters. The desert wind that brought them hither could one day carry them away without their leaving behind them any sign of their passage through it".
- Comments by Christians concerning the Arabs in Palestine in the 1800s -
"Then we entered the hill district, and our path lay through the clattering bed of an ancient stream, whose brawling waters have rolled away into the past, along with the fierce and turbulent race who once inhabited these savage hills. There may have been cultivation here two thousand years ago. The mountains, or huge stony mounds environing this rough path, have level ridges all the way up to their summits; on these parallel ledges there is still some verdure and soil: when water flowed here, and the country was thronged with that extraordinary population, which, according to the Sacred Histories, was crowded into the region, these mountain steps may have been gardens and vineyards, such as we see now thriving along the hills of the Rhine. Now the district is quite deserted, and you ride among what seem to be so many petrified waterfalls. We saw no animals moving among the stony brakes; scarcely even a dozen little birds in the whole course of the ride".
- William Thackeray in "From Jaffa To Jerusalem", 1844 -
"The country is in a considerable degree empty of inhabitants and therefore its greatest need is of a body of population".
- James Finn, British Consul in 1857 -
"The area was underpopulated and remained economically stagnant until the arrival of the first Zionist pioneers in the 1880's, who came to rebuild the Jewish land. The country had remained "The Holy Land" in the religious and historic consciousness of mankind, which associated it with the Bible and the history of the Jewish people. Jewish development of the country also attracted large numbers of other immigrants - both Jewish and Arab. The road leading from Gaza to the north was only a summer track suitable for transport by camels and carts... Houses were all of mud. No windows were anywhere to be seen... The plows used were of wood... The yields were very poor... The sanitary conditions in the village [Yabna] were horrible... Schools did not exist... The rate of infant mortality was very high... The western part, toward the sea, was almost a desert... The villages in this area were few and thinly populated. Many ruins of villages were scattered over the area, as owing to the prevalence of malaria, many villages were deserted by their inhabitants".
- The report of the British Royal Commission, 1913 -