Respected Israeli journalist defends the killing of children and mocks Palestinian demand to stop assassination policy

Jonathan Ofir 

Mondoweiss  /  May 11, 2023 

Ron Ben-Yishai is one of Israel’s most respected veteran journalists. He says Palestinians only have themselves to blame for the deaths of children and civilians in Israel’s latest attack on Gaza.

Ron Ben-Yishai is one of the most well-known and respected veteran journalists in Israel. In 2018 he was awarded the Israel Prize, Israel’s highest civilian honor, and he is considered a centrist and an authority on military matters (he had famously covered the Sabra and Shatila massacres in 1982 as the first Israeli journalist to enter the refugee camps in the wake of the slaughter). He recently warned against the planned judicial reform and said it would lead to apartheid. A liberal, you might presume? Not too fast.

In the wake of another massacre in Gaza Ben-Yishai provided an analysis in the pages of the centrist Yediot Aharonot and said the following:

“What currently stands in the way of achieving a ceasefire are the cheeky demands of the Islamic Jihad, among them the demand that Israel cease eliminating its seniors and activists also in Judea and Samaria [biblical names for occupied Palestinian West Bank].”

Ben-Yishai is using the Hebrew term “chatzufot” to describe the demands as “cheeky” – a description rooted in the word chutzpah – a very mocking term.

Ben-Yishai extolls the “upgrading of the intelligence and operative capabilities of the security establishment,” which ostensibly allows the army to be exact. But how then does Ben-Yishai explain the intentional targeting of civilians? Israel’s first attack in what it has dubbed “Operation Shield and Arrow” killed ten civilians, including small children, in their sleep. Ben-Yishai explains:

“We have seen in operation “Shield and Arrow” hits on ten uninvolved, but they stemmed from the fact that the Jihad leaders, who have been elimination targets and represented imminent and clear danger to citizens of Israel, chose to reside with their families and other “uninvolved” persons, although they knew that they were wanted and that Israel is making an effort to eliminate them.”

So, once again, the blood of the Palestinians is on their own heads because resistance fighters choose to be with their families, knowing fully well that Israel would blast their families to pieces.

This is the depraved Israeli logic of “human shields,” where people see families and human beings as simply collateral because Israel is forced to bomb civilian residences.

Ben-Yishai is far from alone in defending the killing of children. There is also Maurice Hirsch, who served in the Israeli military as a legal official and “specialized” in the application of international law in the occupied territory.

He responded to the death of Palestinian children in Gaza with the following:

“Considering the military advantage gained by eliminating these senior terrorists, it is irrelevant to ask how many children were incidentally killed.”

What more do you need to hear?

In addition, the idea that extrajudicial executions are not only legitimate but even heroic is in no way considered extreme in Israel. There are many other prominent examples from people considered centrists.

When Benny Gantz came into politics in 2019, he boasted of having assassinated Hamas leader Ahmad Jabari, who the Israeli daily Haaretz had described as Israel’s “subcontractor in Gaza,” leading negotiations for a ceasefire over several years. In fact, he was reported to be holding a draft for a permanent truce agreement with Israel hours before he was assassinated. In a campaign ad, Gantz included an aerial video of the assassination and promised more of such operations if he was elected. This was the same campaign where he boasted of bringing Gaza to the “stone age” when he was army chief of staff in 2014 and circulated drone videos of pulverized Gazan neighborhoods to prove it.

Now that’s chutzpah.

Jonathan Ofir is an Israeli musician, conductor and blogger/writer based in Denmark