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Israel uses World War II rhetoric to justify Gaza war

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As the war in Gaza enters its second phase, Israeli authorities are turning even more to history for legitimation. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was pressed by foreign reporters about civilian deaths in Gaza at a press conference on Monday, pointing out that children were killed in British air raids nearly 80 years ago.

“In 1944, the Royal Air Force bombed the Gestapo headquarters in Copenhagen. It is a perfectly legitimate target. But the British pilots missed, and instead of the Gestapo headquarters they attacked a nearby children’s hospital. And 84 children were killed. I think they were burned to death,” he said. “It was not a war crime. It is not an indictment of Britain. It was a lawful act of war, with the tragic consequences that come with such lawful actions.”

The conflict has been haunted by historical parallels since October 7, when Hamas led a brutal and unexpected attack on Israel. But Israeli officials are not only concerned with the history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the 2001 U.S. attack that sparked the “war on terror,” but also with the aftermath of World War II, one of the most devastating conflicts in history. References to the Great War are also increasing. .

At the same press conference, Prime Minister Netanyahu refuted calls for a ceasefire, citing the 1941 bombing of Pearl Harbor. Similar rhetorical points have been made by other Israeli politicians. The New York Times reported this weekAmong them: “During World War II, the United States and other allies attacked Germany and Japan, including the dropping of two nuclear warheads on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, in an effort to defeat these countries.” One person reportedly mentioned how he had resorted to devastating bombings of

Israeli Ambassador Gilad Erdan and his staff in New York wore yellow stars during Monday’s United Nations Security Council meeting. This was another obvious symbol of the era. Nazi Germany forced Jews in Germany and some countries to wear similar stars in the lead up to World War II and the Holocaust, in which 6 million Jews were murdered.

The stars Erdan and his colleagues wore were inscribed with the message “Never Again.”

Looking to history for legitimation in modern conflicts can be dangerous. Prime Minister Netanyahu made a gaffe when he said the Royal Air Force bombed a children’s hospital in 1944. And this example is more complex than his rhetoric explains.

[OnMarch211945aBritishairraidaccidentallytargetedaFrenchschoolinCopenhagenresultinginfatalities[1945年3月21日、英国の空襲がコペンハーゲンのフランス語学校を誤って標的にし、死者を出した出来事One count of 87 children and 19 adults., almost unforgettable. In 2011, the event was memorialized in a film, now available on Netflix. called “shelling” – and caused considerable controversy And new troubles.

To this day, there is debate about the military necessity of bombing the Gestapo facility in Copenhagen, given the high number of civilian casualties and the inevitability of German defeat at this point. The Royal Air Force initially resisted calls by Danish resistance groups to raid secret police strongholds, demanding the release of prisoners and the destruction of confiscated documents. This was precisely because the location was in a densely populated area full of civilians.

The British military eventually acquiesced, but when a low-flying RAF Mosquito crashed near the school, the resulting fire was ignited by other pilots who were disoriented and lacked modern technology. interpreted as a goal. The French Catholic Joan of Arc School does not appear to have painted the cross on its roof, which private hospitals had done up to this point to protect against airstrikes.

Other aircraft also attacked planned targets, and the attack on the Gestapo compound is said to have allowed 18 imprisoned resistance fighters to escape, but others were killed. However, the death of a schoolchild came at a heavy price. Anger over the deaths and damage to civilian areas has continued for years. According to the Danesthe family’s lawsuit for compensation was not fully resolved until 1960.

Decades later, One of the pilots who survived the mission told an interviewer that it was “very successful in terms of its objectives.” But “from a personal standpoint, it’s been completely ruined by the kids being killed in the school,” Edward Sisemore said.

Repeated references to World War II and the Holocaust in connection with the Gaza war prompted criticism. Dani Dayan, director of Jerusalem’s Yad Vashem Museum, wrote on social media on Tuesday that “the yellow spot symbolizes the helplessness of the Jewish people and the subjugation of others.” In response to Eldan wearing the star. “Today we have an independent country and a strong army.”

Given the vital importance of the Holocaust in Israel’s history, it is not surprising that the events of October 7th are told in a similar light. Many Israelis are also understandably outraged that much of the international community moved away so quickly from that day’s violence. But that’s not necessarily a good comparison. Michael Berenbaum of the American Jewish University in California told the Times of Israel. this week.

“The proper explanation for what happened is a pogrom, a massacre of not only men but also women and children, rape of women, wanton destruction of property, housing while the government looked the other way,” Berenbaum said. “It’s a violation of the law,” he said.

Similarly, the context for discussing war crimes in this conflict is very different in 1945 than it is now. Much of what we now call international humanitarian law, also known as the rules of war, was only formalized after World War II. That’s because they responded.

Some of the actions of the Allied forces during World War II could be considered war crimes under current definitions. Allegations of war crimes are just allegations until a court makes a decision. The International Criminal Court, designed to prosecute these types of crimes when other efforts stall, did not open until 2002 (notably, Israel is not a party to the court). .

Prime Minister Netanyahu’s comments on Monday were not controversial. He used the example of Copenhagen to suggest that wars can often have “tragic consequences,” but that Hamas could unilaterally eliminate civilian deaths if civilians withdraw from northern Gaza. He also suggested that it could be eliminated. “No civilian should have to die,” he said.

But there are also complex factors that need to be taken into account, such as the “principle of proportionality” that prohibits military actions that are expected to cause an “excessive” incidental loss of civilian life compared to the expected military outcome. be. On such matters, you should be able to weigh events on their own merits.

The Palestinian Authority said on Tuesday that an Israeli airstrike on the Jabaliya refugee camp in northern Gaza left hundreds of civilians dead and injured. Israeli authorities do not dispute these casualties, but say the attack targeted Ibrahim Biari, a senior Hamas commander who was killed.

“This is a tragedy of war,” Israeli Defense Forces spokesman Lt. Col. Richard Hecht told CNN about the reported civilian losses, echoing Prime Minister Netanyahu’s words about the death of schoolchildren in 1945.

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