A top ranking general in the United States military praised Israel’s conduct in Operation Protective Edge, saying that all militaries should learn how to minimize civilian casualties of war by adopting the practices used by the Jewish State.
The highest-ranking U.S. military officer said on Thursday that Israel went to “extraordinary lengths to limit collateral damage and civilian casualties” during Operation Protective Edge, Reuters reports.
Furthermore, the US wished to learn Israeli tactics, which minimize civilian casualties during urban warfare, and the Pentagon had sent a team to see what lessons could be learned from the operation.
Speaking to an audience in New York at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, a think tank, Army General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, related to recent reports criticizing Israel for alleged excessive civilian deaths in Gaza during the operation against Hamas’s terror infrastructure.
“In this kind of conflict, where you are held to a standard that your enemy is not held to, you’re going to be criticized for civilian casualties,” Reuters quotes Dempsey as telling the group.
Losing Tactical Advantage to Save Lives
Dempsey said Hamas had turned Gaza into “very nearly a subterranean society” with terror tunnels running through the Gaza Strip and into Israel. “That caused the IDF some significant challenges. But they did some extraordinary things to try and limit civilian casualties…making it known that they were going to destroy a particular structure,” Dempsey said.
Dempsey pointed out Israel’s many efforts in forewarning Gaza’s civilians about pending attacks, even at the loss of tactical surprise and, in some cases, risking the lives of the IDF soldiers.
Dempsey mentioned the warning leaflets Israel had dropped on Gaza’s neighborhoods before attacking. He also referred to the “roof-knocking” maneuver used by the Israel Air Force in which they fired warning shots on roofs of houses about to be targeted.
Learning Israeli Tactics
Dempsey revealed that the Pentagon sent a “lessons-learned team” of senior officers and non-commissioned officers to Israel in September to work with the IDF to see what could be learned from the Gaza operation and “to include the measures they took to prevent civilian casualties and what they did with tunneling.”
IDF ‘Not Interested in Creating Civilian Casualties’
Dempsey said he thought his Israeli counterparts, too, would learn from the experience what more could be done to avoid civilian deaths in future operations. “The IDF is not interested in creating civilian casualties. They’re interested in stopping the shooting of rockets and missiles out of the Gaza Strip and into Israel,” Dempsey concluded.
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Author: United with Israel Staff
(With files from Reuters)