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Courage to Refuse > Signers > Article
An article by Dan Tamir
 
 

After the first few months of the 2nd intifada, high commanding officers began to understand that the situation has changed. They did what every officer should do: rethink, reconsider the situation and start replanning. In military language it is called "mission alteration" or in Hebrew "Szinuy Mesima". After the first rethinking in the high headquarters, the field units were sent to replan their operative directions.

On a beautiful winter morning, a group of 4 to 6 officers from one of the IDF reserve regiments went on a tour to its new field of operation, its future segment. The group was made of the regiment's commander (Colonel), his deputy, the head of staff ("Ramat"), the intelligence officer and few more officers from the regiment. Accompanied by the commander of the regional border -police company, they were touring one of the populated areas in the vicinity of Jerusalem. Since most of them were professional officers with a lot of military experience (except the intelligence officer, who was quite younger and less experienced), such military missions were nothing new to them.

As they came back to the headquarters, they started planning a new mission order for the regiment's battalions. They took into consideration the topography, the roads, the infrastructure in the area, the main public buildings and facilities (schools, hospitals, shops) and many more details of their new field of operation. The programm was written, checked, reedited and corrected, copied in a few copies and saved in the regiment's headquarters.

It was only a few weeks later, being already on civil dress and not in uniform, that the intelligence officer understood what he was actually doing. Only then, because of some unimportant incident or a flash of memory, did he realize he was actually planning Ghettos for Palestinian population.

Of course, it was not made out of cruelty or viciousness; he did it and took part in it because this is what he was used to do: you get a mission, and you carry it the best way you can. Naturally, there was no intention to harm nor hurt anybody; there was no intention to humiliate or wound anyone. But the fact was, that no matter how you'll call this military's "reorganization of civil neighborhoods", this officer felt he was actually preparing the ground for the establishment of ghettos.

I assume this officer was not the only one who found resemblances between what the IDF (in this case this officers detachment) was doing and what other military or paramilitary organizations were doing during the 20th century. Just a few days ago a senior officer was quoted in Haaretz as saying that the IDF must learn the lessons of the german Wehrmacht as he was fighting in the Warsaw Jewish ghetto in the Second World War. Technically, this officer IS ABSOLUTELY RIGHT. And if I am allowed: "May every Hebrew mother know that she has left her children's fate under the care of commanders who learned their lesson"(a phrase often recited at officer's school of the IDF). Technically he is right, but the moral price was - and still is - high...

By now you probably guessed who this young officer was. I confess: the comparison was a little frightening to me as well.

So this might be a story too long and sophisticated for Mr. Lapid's show (a talk show host in Israel), but you can quote it in my name. And if you meet this senior officer, remind him that the war was not over in Warsaw, but continued to Stalingrad. If he wants to learn THE FULL lesson, he should remember this as well.

Captain (res.) Dan Tamir

 


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