Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The War on Chickens

One might think that the fact that the UN and NGOs on the one hand and the Israeli government on the other are arguing about whether it was 1100 people or 1400 people who died in Gaza last December-January is proof enough that whatever went on there is very troubling. But since the Israeli government and its supporters have highly rehearsed and impervious-to-evidence positions where human fatalities are involved, how about this one from the deeply depressing Goldstone/UN report into the impact on civilians of "Operation Cast Lead" --

The chicken farms of Mr. Sameh Sawafeary in the Zeitoun neighbourhood south of Gaza City reportedly supplied over 10 per cent of the Gaza egg market. Armoured bulldozers of the Israeli forces systematically flattened the chicken coops, killing all 31,000 chickens inside, and destroyed the plant and material necessary for the business. The Mission concludes that this was a deliberate act of wanton destruction not justified by any military necessity and draws the same legal conclusions as in the case of the destruction of the flour mill.

This should be a simple one, right? Either 31,000 chickens were bulldozed or they were not. Since this is a serious UN report, one assumes that they were. So the only issue should be the Israeli Defence Force justification for bulldozing 31,000 chickens. Don't let the inevitable yelling and screaming about Geneva Conventions technicalities distract from the basic details. If we can sort out what happened to the chickens and why, it might be informative about the broader concerns about that operation.

UPDATE: In a pretty tired set of pseudo-sarcastic talking points, Max Boot includes --

The report’s findings on the actual Gaza conflict are no more convincing. It amounts to one-sided, after-the-fact second-guessing of difficult targeting decisions made in the heat of battle by Israeli soldiers.

What heat of battle decision required bulldozing 31,000 chickens?

FINAL UPDATE 2 JUNE 2010: Chickens apparently remain part of the Iran-Hamas arsenal. They are banned for import to Gaza under the blockade.

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