The unappreciated sacrifice
There's a tribute to Israelis killed in terror attacks at Israel's Foreign Ministry website. There are 15 soldiers who were killed on April 9, 2002. Thirteen of them were killed in an ambush as they entered the refugee camp in Jenin.
The IDF chose to send the soldiers in to reduce the chance of killing civilians had it bombed the area from the air.
In the aftermath of the battle, the New York Times reported, THE OFFENSIVE; Refugee Camp Is a Scene of Vast Devastation:
A three-hour tour here today, made with local guides who picked paths around Israeli tanks, showed destruction on a scale far greater than that seen in the other Palestinian cities that have fallen before Israel's offensive, its biggest ground operation in 20 years.
Israel says Jenin was a center of terrorism, which it is determined to weed out. Israeli officials have spoken of 100 to 200 dead here, and Palestinians have estimated two, three, or four times that number. No one yet knows how many were killed in fighting that has lasted 11 days, and is now all but over, but already the battle here seems certain to be argued over in the contest between the Israelis and Palestinians.
Israel says that its soldiers were careful to avoid shooting civilians, and that most of the dead were fighters. Residents of the camp said many civilians were killed.
There is no mention in the article of the dead soldiers, just this:
A public relations struggle is under way over this ruined place. The battle for the Jenin camp is already becoming another significant, harshly contested episode in the history of both peoples.
On the Palestinian side that struggle was marked by the false claim of a massacre in Jenin. The New York Times failed to report on one of the most relevant details in debunking that libel.
Recently Israel Hayom interviewed Prof. Asa Kasher, the ethicist of the IDF. Along with Gen. Amos Yadlin, Kasher developed the guidelines for addressing the issues of ethical dilemmas in fighting terrorism. One of Prof Kasher's responses addressed Israel's decision in 2002 (h/t Elder of Ziyon):
Q. Can the IDF code of ethics undergo changes?
“The code is stable. The more abstract the values are, the less they change. The doctrines can change because we are in new situations all the time. The doctrine of combating terror, which I dealt with together with Maj. Gen. Amos Yadlin, who was the head of the Military Intelligence Directorate, includes a new situation in which terrorists live among civilians. We must free ourselves from the attitude that regards others’ lives with fear and trembling while holding the lives of our own combat soldiers in complete contempt. International law wants to impose a position on us whereby soldiers are a consumable resource and that the lives of enemy civilians must be protected more than the lives of our own combat troops. Bandages are a consumable resource. Water is a consumable resource. Human beings are not.
“If we warned the terrorists’ neighbors to leave the area, in Arabic, in any way — flyers, telephone calls, television broadcasts, a warning noise — and they stay anyway — why are they staying? Because they choose to be human shields for terrorists. I do not want to kill a human being only because he is a human shield, if he is not a threat to me. But should a soldier of mine risk himself for him? Is the blood of a human shield any redder than the blood of my soldier? A soldier has no choice other than to be in Gaza, in that alleyway. But to be sent inside — why? In the battle in Jenin, in the middle of Operation Defensive Shield, the IDF knew that the refugee camp was booby-trapped. But they still insisted on not bombing from the air in order to keep from harming civilians, and they suffered terrible losses. That was a mistake. They should have made an effort to get the civilian population out of the terrorist environment, and then there would have been no need to send in the infantry.”
Even ten years later it's astounding to reflect on how oblivious the world is to the care Israel's takes to avoid collateral damage.
In 2002, Israel was fighting operation Defensive Shield, its ultimately successful effort to destroy Arafat's "suicide factory." Israel didn't start Defensive Shield until after the horrific Park Hotel massacre. Yet Israel found itself judged daily for the necessary force it deployed to protect its citizenry