Sunday, October 18, 2009

Heliborne?

On page 200 of the Goldstone Report we find this sentence:

706. The Israeli ground offensive from the east reached al-Samouni neighbourhood around 4 a.m. on 4 January 2009. In addition to the ground forces moving in from the east, there were, in all likelihood, heliborne398 troops that landed on the roofs of several houses in the area.

Should you wonder what that means, heliborne troops (and how would the Commission members have known?), you can follow footnote 398:

One witness told the Mission that on 5 January 2009, walking on Salah ad-Din Street towards Gaza, he saw by the roadside parachutes Israeli troops had used to land in the area.
Israel has not used parachutes in battle since 1956. I've never heard of parachutists in any army jumping from helicopters, because the two methods contradict one another. Parachutists jump from mid-altitude airplanes, and aim at large areas since they cannot be guided to precise points. Helicopters land troops on precise points; the troops jump out from a height of a foot, or three.

I haven't heard of Israeli troops being flown by helicopter into battle in Gaza, but who knows? Maybe it happened. If so, eyewitnesses would be able to tell about it in one, very clear case: if they saw the helicopters coming in, effectively landing, and then leaving troops behind them. It's that simple.

The story told by the witness is straight from some Arabian tall tale. I am totally at loss for an explanation as to why the fact finders would have wished to cast themselves as giving the time of day to such fabulists, but I'm at loss for an explanation about lots of things in their report. Keep in mind, however, that one of the four members was chosen for being a military man, and some of their staff were hired for their military expertize, so it's not that they didn't know better.

7 comments:

This Is Hell said...

I'm pretty sure that the Jews first called in an airstrike on Hamas Flying Carpet Regiment.

Anonymous said...

I had a friend who served in the US green berets who told me that during training they used to jump with small parachutes from the heights of around 10 meters. Ussually such jumps are necessary for cases where the surface doesn't allow the helicopter to land or where rapid dislodge is needed.

Shalom, Cherry Hill said...

To Anonymous,

If the fictional parachutes were by a roadside, then helicopters could have landed or hovered there. Gaza is mostly flat, not the Alps.

Victor said...

I remember reading similar accounts from Soviet Spetsnaz - 50 meter parachute descents - but we're talking special forces jumping out of a ultra-low flying aircraft attempting to evade radar. There is simply no need for this kind of drama in Gaza.

Anything could have happened. Perhaps the parachutes came from supply drops to deployed forces, or literature drops to the population, battlefield flares, airborne sensors, etc. A warzone is a messy place.

No one parachutes on a civilian area - that's suicide - and especially not an army that has complete spectrum dominance and can just push its way into any corner of the battlefield it wants.

The helidrop theory is much more plausible, given the need to take strategic heights in an urban setting to establish sniper fire zones.

We're missing the forest for the trees. The point is that all this testimony is hearsay. It has not been vetted, cross referenced with the battleplan, or even cross examined with several witnesses. That's what this entire report is, conjecture and hearsay.

Stay on focus, Yaacov, even if the report isn't.

Ibrahim Ibn Yusuf said...

How the troops arrived to the scene is absolutely irrelevant to the war crime being described. You're using the Holocaust denial technique of making an enormous deal of an entirely peripheral detail, while not responding to the actual accusation that a toddler was wounded by troops outside of a combat situation and denied medical treatment.

See my response here.

Yaacov said...

Ibrahim -

I was focusing on the type of testimony the investigaotrs were willing to accept and parrot.

As for your larger comment: don't worry. I'm slowly reading the entire report, along with other things I have to do in life, and eventually I'll write about what I've seen. But since I'm still only somewhere in the middle, I'm not doing that yet. Posts such as this are meant merely to point at cases of idiocy so great that they're worthy of citation irrespective of the general context.

I will give you a foretaste, however: were I still teaching, as I did many years ago, I would have flunked any student whose methodology resembled that of the investigators, irrespective of the content. It is extraordinarily embarassing, the way they worked.

Gavin said...

I'm not sure if you've noticed it or not Yaacov, but the cornerstone of most of the accusations against Israel is the 4th Geneva Convention. I notice Goldstone joins the yapping about collective punishment, which is forbidden only by the 4GC and not by any other international convention that I've been able to find.

Interestingly the party who has obligations under the 4GC is an occupying power. If Israel isn't (legally) occupying Gaza then it can't be committing collective punishment, genocide, ethic cleansing, withholding aid & medicine, and many other offences that Israel regularly gets blamed for. That because (to my knowledge) all those accusations stem solely from the 4GC, thus only an occupier can commit those (war) crimes. Many of Goldstones accusations were from the 4GC.

Most of the case against Israel that all the 'human rights' organisations have carefully constructed would crumble to dust if Gaza was declared by the UN as being non-occupied. I've often wondered why Israel (and the US) hasn't pursued that angle more vigorously.

I think you'd be intrigued at the circular logic used by Israel's enemies when arguing the occupation definition. They do not like being confronted on that issue, they know it is the weakest link in their case against Israel.

Regards, Gavin.