Israel’s top soldier:
“We don’t want to hurt Palestinian civilians…”

Published: 11 June 2006
Briefing Number 175

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Summary: Israel 's top soldier, Chief of Staff Dan Halutz, has recently emphasised that Israel does not wish to harm Palestinian civilians in the course of its military operations against Palestinian rocket-launching squads in Gaza . He highlights the fact that the danger Palestinian civilians face is caused by the way the Palestinian rocket squads operate.


Palestinian rocket-launching squads have fired hundreds of Qassam rockets at Israeli civilian targets, since Israel 's disengagement from Gaza in 2005 (see Briefing 171 – Palestinian rocket attacks on Israeli energy facilities). In response, Israel has attacked the rocket-squads with aircraft fire, and naval and artillery shelling, in order to curb the rocket attacks.

Palestinian civilians have been killed as a result of these Israeli strikes, prompting critics to allege that Israel deliberately targets civilians in Gaza

Dan Halutz interview

In an interview given to the Jerusalem Post on 1 June 2006, Israel's top soldier, Chief of the General Staff Dan Halutz, refuted this allegation, and instead laid responsibility for Palestinian civilian casualties at the door of the rocket-launchers themselves. He said:-

“….. In Gaza , most of the terrorists move around among the civilian population. Gaza is a very dense area. You cannot hit the terrorists freely. We need to find them when they are not next to civilians….

…. We are making a 100% effort to stop the Palestinian rocket attacks, without crossing certain lines we must not cross…..

….. We do not want to hurt innocent civilians. I am not saying that there are not mistakes once in a while, due to the intensity of the operations and because the terrorists and the civilians live under the same roof. But as a method, we do not want to harm civilians.

We are therefore walking a thin line between the security we are supposed to provide and the operations we are supposed to carry out. This tension is always there, since we don't want to launch operations that will take us to a place where we don't want to be….

…. There are moral, cultural, religious and normative differences between us and [those who fire missiles at us]. …. I hope and believe that we will be able to maintain that difference and that we are better off if we do. I do not want to see myself in a situation in which Israel loses the high value it places on life. I don't think this is the type of society we would want to live in….”

Some Related Beyond Images Briefings

Briefing 130 – Qassam rocket attacks against Israel

Briefing 150 – Israel 's Gaza Pullout and Palestinian Extremism