Creating people's geographies
Colonel W. Patrick Lang (Ret.) has an excellent blog at Sic Temper Tyrannis. Here is a sobering excerpt from a recent post describing his impressions of Israeli ground forces:
In Beit Suhur outside Bethlehem, I have seen IDF troops shoot at Palestinian Christian women hanging out laundry in their gardens. This was done with tank coaxial machine guns from within a bermed up dirt fort a couple of hundred yards away, and evidently just for the fun of it. In Bethlehem a lieutenant told me that he would have had his men shoot me in the street during a demonstration that I happened to get caught in, but that he had not because he thought I might not be a Palestinian and that if I were not the incident would have caused him some trouble. I have seen a lot of things like that. One might say that in war, s–t happens. That is true, but such behavior is indicative of an army that is not well disciplined and not a completely reliably instrument of state policy. In my travels in the west Bank in March of 2008, it was noticeable that the behavior towards Palestinian civilians of IDF troops at roadblocks was reminiscent of that of any group of post-adolescents given guns and allowed to bully the helpless in order to look tough for each other. I think the IDF would be well advised to grow some real sergeants.
Prior to this, he writes,
[ … ] the Israeli government’s policy in the present action in the Gaza Strip has been to avoid civilian casualties whenever possible. [contestable, perhaps officially that’s the policy but evidence particularly in Israel’s current Gaza operation strongly suggests otherwise]. Based on personal experience of the behavior of IDF conscripts toward Palestinian civilians, I would say that the Israeli government has little control over what individual groups of these young Israeli soldiers may do in incidents like the one yesterday in which mortar fire was directed toward UN controlled school buildings.