Following recent violent clashes pitting the Israeli Army against a combination of Palestinian civilians, uniformed Palestinian security forces, and Yasir Arafat’s plainclothed Tanzim militias, the UN Security Council passed Resolution 1322, condemning Israel for “excessive use of force” in attempting to protect the lives of its soldiers and civilians. The United States allowed the resolution to pass by abstaining, and explained afterwards that a veto would have “caused more Arab violence and put American lives at stake in the region.” (New York Times, October 9, 2000)
Amnesty International also denounced Israel’s actions. Reversing the usual process of investigating before reaching conclusions, Amnesty on October 3rd charged Israel with using “excessive and indiscriminate force,” then two days later announced the departure of its delegates to “investigate” the matter. Amnesty also announced that its representatives “would make recommendations to the Israeli government,” but made no mention of any recommendations that might be directed towards the Palestinian Authority. (AI press releases October 3rd and 5th, M2 Presswire)
Are these charges of Israeli brutality and excessive force justified?
• Compared to other nations, and the UN itself, Israel has been restrained
Israel is regularly scrutinized under a microscope that seems reserved for it alone. Critics ignore how other countries, including Western democracies, have reacted to violent disturbances that are incomparably less threatening to them than those faced by Israel.
The UN itself provides at least one apt example: in 1993 UN peacekeeper forces in Somalia used helicopter gunships to mow down hostile civilians and militiamen. On September 9 for example, in one brief engagement, US Cobra helicopters defended a US bulldozer crew by firing anti-tank missiles and 20-mm cannon on a crowd of attacking Somali civilians and militiamen. The UN justified the killing of almost 100 Somalis by noting that, “Everyone on the ground in the vicinity was a combatant, because they meant to do us harm.” US soldiers referred to a “free fire zone” and complained that Somalis “call us killers of women and children when we shoot the very same people who are shooting at us and we kill some of the people that they are using for cover.”
Other examples that provide valuable perspective include the United States invasion of Panama, Jordan’s reaction to a PLO uprising, and Saudi Arabia’s reaction to riots by Iranian pilgrims in Mecca. In each case these countries acted with far less regard for the lives of their adversaries than Israel has in the present crisis.
• US and UN “peacekeeping” action in Somalia
In 1991 Somalia was disintegrating as a country, its government overthrown and the streets of its capital, Mogadishu, run by competing clan-based militias. Widespread famine covered by the media spurred international intervention. Under a United Nations banner, US forces, along with personnel from 25 other nations, attempted to restore order, distribute much-needed food, disarm the militias, and eventually restore civilian rule.
One of the militia leaders, Muhammad Farah Aidid, wanted to be the sole ruler of Somalia and rejected compromises among the clans brokered by the UN. On June 6, 1993, Aidid’s forces, shielded by a cordon of civilians, attacked Pakistani UN soldiers, killing 23:
One or two men approached the soldiers and began to talk to them as 15 or so walked toward them, their hands behind their backs … Women and children then surrounded the Pakistanis … blocking them from shooting at the men, who pulled out sticks and knives as other Somalis on nearby rooftops opened fire. (New York Times, June 8, 1993)
A few days later, in response to sniper fire during a demonstration, Pakistani UN soldiers fired on a crowd of Somali demonstrators, killing two:
In what appears to be a pattern of intensifying harassment, shooting episodes have increased over the past two days. On Monday, Pakistani soldiers killed two Somalis during a demonstration outside their headquarters after snipers opened fire. (New York Times, June 9, 1993)
· UN bombards Mogadishu, leading to heavy civilian casualties
The United Nations forces responded with full scale attacks against General Aidid and his militia, first attacking densely populated Mogadishu from the air:
After hours of bombardment that shook the city, United Nations troops stormed the headquarters of General Mohammed Farah Aidid early this morning, but the Somali clan leader was not there.
The center of Mogadishu was transformed into a battlefield as aircraft led the assault and peacekeepers swept through the city…
The attack began at 1:30 A.M. local time as General Aidid’s neighborhood was shaken by cannon fire, missiles from Cobra helicopter gunships and a AC-130H Specter gunship… (New York Times, June 18, 1993)
The AC-130 is a particularly devastating weapon, and the raids caused heavy casualties:
By this evening, hospitals reported that more than 60 Somalis had been killed and an estimated 100 wounded.
Two helicopter missiles landed in the yard of a French relief agency, International Action Against Hunger, killing one Somali worker and wounding seven others. (New York Times, June 18, 1993)
· UN Bombs Mogadishu radio, claiming “incitement”
Among the targets was Mogadishu radio, which was bombed to silence “anti-United Nations” incitement:
… aerial bombardments …hit the Mogadishu radio station. The station, United Nations officials said, had been used to broadcast anti-United Nations messages and incite actions against the peacekeeping force. (New York Times, June 18, 1993)
· US Blames civilian deaths on Aidid: He sent civilians to confront troops
After the initial fighting, 20 Somali civilian demonstrators were killed by Pakistani troops:
The attacks have fed resentment and anger among Somalis against the Americans and the United Nations. The tensions were made worse when more than 20 civilians were killed in two demonstrations on Sunday when Pakistani troops opened fire after snipers aimed at them … (New York Times, June 18, 1993)
The UN envoy in Somalia, retired US Admiral Jonathan Howe, laid the blame for civilian de
aths squarely on General Aidid:
Admiral Howe accused General Aidid of using women and children as shields for gunmen, saying that the general’s faction had organized the demonstrations and that he would be held responsible for the deaths. (New York Times, June 18, 1993)
· UN calls for “Armoured Personnel Carriers, Tanks and Attack Helicopters”
The day of the June 6 attacks against Pakistani soldiers, the UN Security Council passed Resolution 837, which:
condemned the unprovoked armed attacks against [UN] personnel … which appear to have been part of a calculated and premeditated series of cease-fire violations …
[urged] member states to contribute, on an emergency basis, military support and transportation, including armoured personnel carriers, tanks and attack helicopters to provide … the capability appropriately to confront and deter armed attacks …
Thus while Israel has been condemned by the UN for very limited use of tanks and helicopters, the UN itself called for increasing use of such weapons in Somalia.
· US Helicopters rocket meeting of Somali leaders, killing at least 54
Attacking on July 12, 1993 what was described as the “command and control” of Aidid’s militia, US helicopters fired “16 missiles and more than 2000 rounds of 20-mm cannon rounds” into a Mogadishu villa where Aidid aides and other Somali leaders were meeting. (AP, July 12, 1993) According to the International Committee of the Red Cross, at least 54 Somalis were killed in the raid and another 174 wounded, while Somali sources claimed that the dead totaled 73, included 10 children and 22 women. (Agence France Presse, July 13, 1993) Four Western journalists who rushed to the scene were killed by a Somali mob outside the villa. (AFP, July 13, 1993)
· In September battle “free fire zone” declared, 100 Somalis killed by US Cobras
In a September 9, 1993 battle sparked by a Somali attack against a US bulldozer crew, US Cobra helicopters fired anti-tank missiles and 20-mm rounds at “the crowd that came to see the shooting, killing nearly one hundred people.” (Black Hawk Down, p 76; in the text the date for the battle is erroneously given as September 19; the correct date of September 9 is given in the notes, p 360)
Apparently the crowd had begun to help Somali militiamen in the battle, leading UN Military Spokesman Major David Stockwell to defend firing on civilians:
Everyone on the ground in the vicinity was a combatant, because they meant to do us harm. (Manchester Guardian Weekly, September 19, 1993)
According to a diary account of one of the US units involved in the action:
… the Cobras killed as many as 100, they were shooting into crowds where they were taking fire. Remember it was a free fire zone… [The Somalis] use women as cover and concealment for when they shoot at us to make it harder to see who is doing the shooting, if we can see them at all. Then they call us killers of women and children when we shoot the very same people who are shooting at us and we kill some of the people that they are using for cover. (Black Hawk Down, p 360)
· After botched raid, 18 US Soldiers and up to 500 Somalis are killed in half-day battle
Firefights and ambushes continued for several months culminating in an ill-fated attempt on October 3rd by US Rangers and Special Forces to capture dozens of Aidid’s senior aides. The raid went awry when first one and then another Cobra helicopter was shot down by Somalis using RPG’s (rocket propelled grenades). Refusing to abandon the body of a dead pilot trapped in the wreckage of one of the helicopters, US forces instead formed a perimeter around the crash site, attempted to extricate the body, and called for reinforcements. The soldiers trapped near the downed choppers soon faced a withering assault from Aidid’s men, who were armed with AK-47’s and RPG’s. The reinforcement attempts and the effort to hold the position, while heroic, caused massive casualties. The eventual rescue, employing tanks and armored personnel carriers, added to the bloodshed. According to one report:
At least 300 Somalis are believed to have been killed during the street fighting in Mogadishu on October 3, and hundreds of women and children were among the 700 treated in hospitals after the battle…. “There was tremendous carnage involved,” a Pentagon official said.
The author of the definitive book on the battle estimated that the toll had been even higher, up to 500 Somalis killed and a thousand injured. (Black Hawk Down, Mark Bowden, p 310)
Many of these casualties were due to fire from US helicopters, which were reported to have let loose with 75,000 rounds and 63 anti-tank missiles in the 14 hour battle. (Gannett News Service, November 22, 1993)
· Despite high casualties, US spokesmen deny excessive force was used in raid
US Army spokesmen asserted that, high civilian casualties notwithstanding, the US had not used excessive force, nor breached international laws, and the Somalis themselves bore the ultimate responsibility, since they used civilian shields and had started the firefight:
From all reports, the nature and degree of force used … did not exceed what was necessary to counter this escalating fire and was consistent with the right of self-defense under international law…
It has been our experience that the Somali gunmen who have opposed us have frequently used women and children and, at times, have worn women’s clothing, to cover their movements and to protect them from attack. These gunmen do not wear uniforms or distinctive insignia; they do not carry arms openly; they are not led by accountable military leadership; they are not subject to military discipline and they do not comply with international law. It is they who initiated the firefight and who bear ultimate responsibility for this tragic loss of life.(Statement by US Central Command as reported in New York Times, October 14, 1993; emphasis added)
·Comparison: US and UN versus Israeli use of force – The example of Somalia
There can be no doubt that Israel has been far more restrained in dealing with Palestinian attacks than the US and UN were in dealing with comparable Somalian attacks. Clearly, some of the battles in Somalia were far more intense than any in the recent fighting between Israelis and Palestinians. But this is largely because Israel has acted with great forbearance
. Moreover, many of the battles in Somalia described above – for example those in June and September – are quite similar to recent battles between Israelis and Palestinians.
The September battle, in particular is worth emphasizing, because it was a relatively small encounter, involving an armed band who were joined by civilians in attacking UN soldiers. The UN forces, including US Cobra helicopters, considered the area of the attack a “free fire zone” and shot at every Somali in the vicinity, whether armed or not. The Cobra’s 20-mm cannon and anti-tank missiles killed nearly 100 Somalis, many of them women and children. The words of UN Military spokesman Major David Stockwell bear repeating:
Everyone on the ground in the vicinity was a combatant, because they meant to do us harm. (as quoted in the Manchester Guardian Weekly, September 19, 1993)
The Somali death toll in this single small battle with UN forces equaled the entire Palestinian death toll in the first three weeks of the disturbances, once again demonstrating the great restraint exhibited by Israel.
It is also instructive to compare the reactions of the US and Israel to having soldiers – some of them wounded – trapped by an extremely hostile armed mob. When US soldiers were trapped by much larger Somali forces in the October battle mentioned above, the US rescued them at the cost of more than 500 Somali lives. When Israeli soldiers were under siege at Joseph’s Tomb in Nablus, with Cpl. Yosef Madhat seriously wounded by gunfire, an Israeli request to Palestinian forces to allow his evacuation was refused. Senior IDF commanders ignored pleas from the trapped soldiers that the officer was dying, and did not employ nearby armored forces to effect a rescue, stating later that they wanted to avoid escalation and the attendant bad publicity:
If we had sent in tanks and heavy weapons to take out a wounded soldier, it would not only have caused an escalation in events, but imagine how it would look to the rest of the world. (Jerusalem Post, October 3, 2000)
Instead, Israel protected Palestinian lives by not trying to extricate the wounded officer, who, after four hours, bled to death.
While the US defended the huge Somali death toll that resulted from the rescue of its trapped soldiers as not exceeding “what was necessary to counter this escalating fire and … consistent with the right of self-defense under international law…”, Israel once again exercised far more restraint, but has nonetheless been charged with excessive use of force.
• The US Invasion of Panama
Reacting to increasingly repressive and criminal behavior in 1988 by Panamanian strongman General Manuel Noriega, the United States imposed economic sanctions on the Central American country and indicted Noriega for drug running. On December 15, 1989, following further unrest in the country, and a failed coup attempt, the Noriega-led assembly declared war on the United States. (New York Times, various articles December 1989)
US apprehensions over these developments were heightened by concerns for the safety of approximately 15,000 US citizens who then lived in the Panama Canal Zone.
· Unarmed Marines assaulted at roadblock, one killed
On December 16th four unarmed US Marine officers driving in Panama City took a wrong turn and encountered a military roadblock near the Noriega headquarters, at which point:
Panamanian soldiers tried to pull the Americans out of their car and then opened fire when they fled, killing one and wounding another in the ankle. (New York Times, December 19, 1989)
These US soldiers made a fatally wrong turn, in an incident eerily reminiscent of the case of the two Israeli army reservists who made a wrong turn into the Palestinian-controlled town of Ramallah. There are differences, however: the Israeli reservists were brutally lynched in the Ramallah police station, but there is no evidence that Panamanian soldiers would have lynched or even killed the Americans had they not fled. The US reaction to the killing of its soldier was swift and severe.
· US Invades Panama; Forces include APC’s, Tanks, Apache Helicopters, AC-130’s
In response to this attack on American soldiers, which President Bush described as an “enormous outrage,” the United States, on December 20th, invaded Panama. The US invasion force was 20,000 strong, including elements of the 82nd Airborne Division and the 6th Mechanized Brigade. The US order of battle included mortars, APC’s (Armored Personnel Carriers), Sheridan tanks, and A-64 Apache helicopters firing Hellfire anti-tank missiles. Additionally, US forces employed F-117 Stealth fighter-bombers, which made their combat debut, dropping 2000 pound bombs near Panamanian barracks at Rio Hato (New York Times, December 24, 1989). Finally, the US also used the lethal AC-130 gunship, which is:
… equipped with a frightening array of 20-mm canon, 7.62-mm Gatling guns and even 105-mm howitzers that fire 40-pound shells …. [The AC-130] can lay down 17,000 rounds of ammunition a minute in a pulverizing stream of bullets. (Newsweek, January 1, 1990)
· Small Panamanian army overwhelmed; civilians not spared
These weapons were used to devastating effect against the 12,000 man Panamanian Defense Forces (PDF), which amounted to little more than a uniformed militia, and Noriega’s plainclothed militia known as the Dignity Battalions. In the course of the fighting, numerous civilians were also killed, and entire blocks of poor civilian neighborhoods were destroyed in Panama City. According to one press report:
At around 12:15 AM Wednesday, residents of century-old wooden houses ringing Noriega’s sprawling PDF headquarters, called the Comandancia, were startled by the roar of circling US AC-130 … gunships and attack choppers, then the rumble of tanks in the streets. The tanks fired barrage after barrage at Noriega’s official lair … The streets soon began to fill as terrified residents ran out of their flaming houses. An unknown number died in their homes; many were injured. (Time, January 1, 1990)
As the US forces advanced towards Noriega’s headquarters, the Panamanians fought back, drawing an unrestrained response from US Apache helicopters:
… riflemen and machine-gunners [began] shooting from the headquarters and the windows of surrounding apartment towers and other houses. American helicopter gunships unleashed rockets and volleys of machine-gun fire. (New York Times, December 26, 1989)
According to another report of the fighting in the neighborhood, which housed 20,000 people:
… flames lapped at the base of a smoke column that rose several thousand feet. An American military helicopter hovered overhead and occasional explosions could be heard.
“This is horrible,” said a mother who had fled the area with members of her family. “Never in the history of our country has this been seen.”
Residents said that many of the wooden houses near the headquarters had been hit by gunfire and artillery fire. Many had burned, and some residents said they had lost everything. (Reuters, December 21, 1990)
While the Pentagon officially estimated that 516 Panamanians were killed in the invasion, 314 soldiers and 202 civilians (UPI, September 18, 1990), some credible reports indicate that the civilian death toll was far higher. A 60 Minutes report suggested that the number of dead may have approached 4000, and cited a US Army document dated nine days after the invasion began that estimated the number of civilian dead at 1000. The Army document stated that:
Some were killed in the Torrijo section of Panama [site of the Noriega headquarters], where about 10 blocks of high-density housing or slums were destroyed as a result of our ops.(60 Minutes, September 30, 1990)
· US and allies veto critical Security Council Resolution
A Security Council Resolution which “strongly deplore[d] the intervention in Panama by the armed forces of the United States of America.” was vetoed by the United States, Britain and France, though a majority of the council’s 15 members voted in favor. (New York Times, December 24, 1989)
When Cuba pressed the General Assembly to pass a resolution condemning the US invasion, a senior State Department official said that such a resolution would be:
another example of hypocrisy … visible to the rest of the world even if it isn’t to the members of the United Nations. (New York Times, December 27, 1989)
· Comparison: US versus Israeli use of force – The example of Panama
The immediate provocation for the US invasion of Panama by more than 20,000 soldiers, and the arrest of the Panamanian strongman Noriega, was the killing by Panamanian soldiers of an off-duty US Marine and the wounding of another, after the Marines’ car got lost and was stopped at a Panamanian checkpoint. Credible reports indicate that up to 4000 Panamanians, most of them civilians, were killed in the invasion.
In contrast, when two Israeli Army reservists got lost driving to their base, fell into Palestinian hands, and were lynched in a particularly horrible manner, Israel gave the Palestinians three hours notice that certain buildings would be attacked. One of the buildings was the Ramallah police station that was the site of the lynching. After the three hours had passed, Israeli A-64 Apache helicopters fired warning shots, then fired missiles at the buildings that the Palestinians had been warned to evacuate. The Israeli attacks resulted in some injuries but no fatalities.
Over all, in its invasion of Panama, the United States employed a far greater level of force than Israel has so far used against the Palestinian Authority. As a result, the US action caused far greater casualties, especially among civilians.
Finally, Israel’s restraint should be placed in proper context. Panama is more than a thousand miles distant from the United States, and never posed a threat to US cities or any substantial number of US civilians. In contrast, Israel’s civilian population and even Jerusalem, its capital, have been directly threatened by Palestinian attacks.
• Saudi reaction to the Iranian disturbances in Mecca in 1987
During the 1987 Muslim hajj, or annual religious pilgrimage to Mecca, Iranian pilgrims, 157,000 strong, staged violent demonstrations intended to destabilize and discredit Saudi Arabia. According to news reports, the Iranians, bolstered by senior intelligence agents and Revolutionary Guards, intended to take over the Grand Mosque and force Saudi religious officials to declare Iranian ruler Ayatollah Khomeini the leader of all Muslims. (AP, August 5, 1987)
The Iranians, reportedly carrying under their clothes “knives and sticks,” soon overwhelmed Saudi police, taking their weapons. After a Saudi policeman was beheaded during street battles, reinforced Saudi security troops began to “shoot to kill.” (New York Times, August 8, 1987; UPI, August 29, 1987)
According to Saudi Arabia more than 275 Iranian pilgrims were killed in the fighting; Iran claimed that the toll was 600, with 4500 injured, and that “Saudi police mowed down pilgrims with machine guns.” (AP, August 5, 1987)
· Despite heavy civilian toll, US and Arab leaders back Saudi actions
The United States refrained from criticizing the Saudis for the heavy civilian death toll, and instead “blamed Iran … for the riots and praised Saudi Arabia for bringing the clashes under control.” State Department spokesman Charles Redman, said that Iranian charges that the US instigated the riots served Iran’s:
… political interest in exciting its own population and escalating its campaign of tension, intimidation and destabilization in the Gulf. (New York Times, August 4, 1987)
Arab rulers also defended the Saudis. Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat, for example, was reported to have joined “a growing number of Arab leaders … in denouncing Iran for the violence in Mecca.” (New York Times, August 5, 1987) Arafat did not condemn the Saudi forces for using machine guns against Iranian pilgrims most of whom were without firearms.
Similarly, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak also defended the Saudis, explaining that:
Moslems of the world must realize that any laxity in confronting such incidents would spread the forces of evil and aggression over all that is holy to Islam. (New York Times, August 4, 1987)
Finally, it should be noted that there were no non-Muslim reporters in Mecca, because non-Muslims are not allowed in Islam’s holiest city. With regard to violence, and with regard to access to a holy city, the contrast with Judaism’s holiest city, Jerusalem, could not be more striking.
• The civil war between Jordan and the PLO: Black September
The Palestine Liberation Organization had been firmly entrenched in Jordan, with its large Palestinian population, since the organization was founded in the 1960s. As the PLO’
;s military power grew it became a state within a state, challenging King Hussein’s rule and clashing repeatedly with the Jordanian army and security forces.
King Hussein blamed Yasir Arafat and the PLO for their attacks on Israel that provoked damaging retaliation. His attempts to prevent such PLO attacks were met by a number of assassination attempts. Finally, in September 1970 a PLO group hijacked three Western airliners to Jordan and blew them up after evacuating the passengers. On September 15, seemingly not in control of his country, or his capital, which was dotted with PLO checkpoints, King Hussein appointed an emergency cabinet composed of loyal generals and declared martial law. The stage was set for a showdown with Yasir Arafat and the PLO. (Jordan’s Palestinian Challenge, 1948-1983, Clinton Bailey; Israel: the Embattled Ally, Nadav Safran)
The next day the Jordanian army:
… trained its artillery on fedayeen headquarters and other targets in the al-Wahdat and Husayni refugee camps adjacent to the capital. On the next day, ruthless mop-up operations began in Amman itself to dislodge Palestinian fighters from bunkers and rooftops. These operations, which lasted for ten days, were heavy-handed, causing great loss of life and damage to property. The two refugee camps were almost razed to the ground and buildings were destroyed on top of their occupants. In Amman, most buildings harboring fedayeen nests were summarily shelled. (Bailey, p 57)
The Palestinian death toll in 11 days of fighting was estimated at 3400, though Arafat claimed that 20,000 had been killed. (Bailey, p 59, The Making of a War, John Bulloch, p 67) After a cease fire lasting until July 1971, fighting resumed and the remaining PLO forces were defeated and expelled from Jordan. Some 200 fedayeen, seeing their comrades butchered by Hussein’s troops, fled across the Jordan River to Israel. Most PLO personnel and their families resettled in Lebanon, where they repeated their Jordanian experience, setting up a state within a state, and launching attacks against Israel that drew firm retaliation.
• The Fighting between Israel and the Palestinians
Most, if not all, of the recent clashes have been initiated by the Palestinian side, whether by mass attacks against Israeli soldiers manning outposts that guard Israeli communities, or by gunfire against Israeli communities themselves. Gilo, for example, a residential area on the southern edge of Jerusalem, has been repeatedly targeted by gunmen firing from the neighboring Palestinian town of Beit Jalla.
Brief clips of the mass attacks shown on television give an impression of disorganized mobs engaging well-armed soldiers. The reality is somewhat different – at the head of the attackers are usually children and teenagers, throwing rocks and sometimes gasoline bombs, both of which are supplied to the front lines in an orderly fashion. Behind the front lines are Palestinian gunmen and snipers, sometimes in uniform, but often not. The latter are usually members of the Tanzim (organization), strike force of Yasir Arafat’s Fatah wing of the PLO.
These gunmen shoot at the Israelis from behind the cover of the “demonstrators” at the front lines, and when Israeli troops fire back at the gunmen, they often have to do so by attempting to shoot between the “demonstrators.” Because they are potentially deadly, the gunmen, and those throwing gasoline bombs, are considered by the Israelis legitimate targets for live fire. Against the rock throwers the Israelis usually employ rubber coated steel pellets, which the media regularly refers to as “rubber bullets,” even though they are designed to be much less lethal than real bullets. The Israelis fire these in order to avoid causing deaths and serious injuries, yet on those occasions when “rubber bullets” do lead to deaths or serious injuries, the Israelis are accused of brutality.
Often Palestinian gunmen and snipers also shoot at Israelis from apartment buildings or private homes. When these attacks become too threatening Israel has responded with anti- tank missiles fired from the ground or from Apache helicopters. Israel also used Apache- fired anti-tank missiles to retaliate for the lynching of two of its army reservists, who got lost while driving and were captured by Palestinian police in Ramallah. They were taken to the police station, where a mob, and apparently also some Palestinian police, brutally murdered them. The retaliatory missile attacks came only after giving the Palestinians three hours warning that specific facilities would be hit, and therefore caused no deaths.
In response to the attacks on Gilo, Israel has returned fire using tank-mounted machine guns, and if the source of fire can be precisely determined, Apache-fired missiles and tank cannon rounds.
There is no doubt that had Israel truly used excessive or wanton force, the toll of Palestinian dead would be many thousands, rather than approximately 150 as of late October. Had Israel reacted as the United States would to such attacks, the death toll would again be in the thousands.