After reading the Israeli military’s latest report on its service to humanity, one might actually be compelled to believe that the Israeli military “is always ready to leave everything behind and save lives”. But unless you are a seal trained to clap at the clowns behind such a deceptive report, this should instead lead you to question the morality of Israel’s armed forces and how their mission to save lives ends just outside of Palestine’s borders.
The report features the National Search and Rescue Unit, a collection of volunteer Israeli soldiers, as one component of the Israeli military’s overall dedication to providing humanitarian aid in Israel and abroad. According to the report, this group of individuals was responsible for saving the life of a little girl hidden beneath the rubble of her home after a devastating earthquake hit Turkey in 1999. Admirable, yes, so let us ask Jihan al-Hilu what she thinks about Israel’s altruism. It is likely that she shares the same opinion as Mahdi al-‘Athamneh.
Here would be the perfect place to insert quotes by sixteen-year-old Jihan and fifteen-year-old Mahdi but they are not with us to share their thoughts. Jihan and her entire family were killed on January 18, 2009, when armed Israeli forces, not an earthquake, fired a barrage of missiles at her home in Gaza City. Similarly, Mahdi was among the nineteen civilians killed when the Israeli military shelled a residential neighborhood in Beit Hanoun and collapsed his home on his family in 2006. Where was Israel’s altruism then?
Not only does the Israeli military’s service to humanity skip over Palestinians, it also prevents Palestinians themselves from attempting to save lives. After eleven-year-old Safa Abu Seif was shot in the stomach while waiting inside her home on March 1, 2008, her family tried reviving her but failed when soldiers shot at her again as her family members tried to move her to a hospital. According to B’Tselem, Safa’s limp body remained at home for the night.
Jihan, Mahdi, and Safa are just three examples of the thousands killed during Israel’s humanitarian conquests. They are also among the thousands conveniently ignored in the military’s report.
The Israeli military’s blog claims that “Israeli medical personnel have saved more than 417 people from certain death, provided medical care to more than 3,700 injured patients and delivered more than 47 babies” within the last two decades. These figures pale in comparison to the 6430 Palestinians killed and the 59,575 injured by the Israeli military only in the last eleven years, and the 69 babies born at checkpoints between 2000 and 2007 after the Israeli military denied their mothers access to hospitals and ambulances.
Since 1984, Israel has sent rescue missions to Mexico, Armenia, Greece, Turkey, Spain, Kenya, Haiti, and Japan all the while occupying a foreign land and furthering the endangerment of its indigenous population. But as I wrote in 2010 after police Chief Superintendent Meir Namir credited the Haiti mission for reflecting Israel’s “high morality”, there are no free passes. If the Israeli military truly values life, the injustices we see every day in Palestine would be nothing more than a figment of our imaginations.