I don’t write these words with joy, but with sorrow and deep shame. Despite all the slack the world has cut us since as long as we can remember, despite the leniency shown toward Israel, the world might say otherwise this time. If we continue like this, maybe one day a new, special court will be established in The Hague.
JAGODA VUKUSIC: Dead children, wounded civilians, these are the worst possible messages Israel can send from Gaza into the world.
SHMUEL MERIOM: I know, but several of our soldiers were killed by a friendly fire. Did we want that? Absolutely not. The same way we didn’t want the civilian deaths. Some were killed by error, some for being used by Hamas as human shields. Hamas knows all too well that the pictures shown around the world make them victims and they use it very skillfully. They don’t care about people. If they did, they wouldn’t fight from the most densely populated areas. They fire rockets from schools, public buildings, mosques and sometimes from private homes. We have information that some of the home owners object, but Hamas threatens them, if necessary, even with force. The last week we found they were killing Fatah sympathizers. Some resisted, and some were tortured and killed just for belonging to Fatah for allegedly being Israeli collaborators.
VUKUSIC: In the Israeli daily newspaper Ha’aretz I read an article by Gideon Levy who thinks that after Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia, it will be necessary to start a new trial in the Hague, this time against Israel. What is your comment regarding his observation?
MERIOM: That’s his opinion. If there are such war crimes, they have to be proven.
VUKUSIC: That’s not difficult. You can see them on TV each evening.
MERIOM: Are you talking about dead civilians? That’s really terrible, but when Hamas fires rockets they aim exclusively at civilians. Then I didn’t hear anything about the Hague. Only now, when we are attacking Hamas and unfortunately some civilians get killed, then we are responsible for war crimes. What kind of balance are we talking about? About proportionality in the number of civilians killed? In the fact that we are strong and they are weak?
VUKUSIC: We are especially sensitive about civilians being killed. Not only because they were killed all over Croatia, but because our Croatian generals and Croatian army are currently being accused in the Hague for disproportionate bombing of Knin (CAMERA: A predominantly Serbian town in the Krajina region of Croatia from which 240,000 people were expelled.)
MERIOM: I am familiar with that. I don’t want to make comparisons; it wouldn’t be correct, but I wish to point out that it makes a big difference whether you bomb civilians in order to empty a territory or not. Our aim is not to hit civilians.