A small suggestion for Israel

First, let me say that I have no idea about who is right or wrong in Palestine. It seems to me that all sides there are in an impass. This note isn't about the big picture, it's just a small suggestion for a possibly very useful policy for Israel to adopt if it intends to continue violent action against Palestinians.

Reparations. It's really very simple. Suppose the Israelis decide to take out someone who they believe supplies and trains suicide bombers. They know where he is, and they target that location as precisely as possible, and as a result, 3 civilians are killed, 10 are seriously wounded, and three houses are destroyed. It doesn't matter for the purposes of this essay whether their actual target was killed or not, those civilians and their property would never have been legitimate targets, and, I believe, would never be of interest to the Israelis as targets. Yet, they were blown up.

I think that Israel should pay the survivors. They should pay so much for a death, so much for an injury, and they should pay to treat the injuries. They should also pay to rebuild any structures they destroy. The amounts should not be unlimited, but they should be more than simply adequate, they should be "moderately generous". And, they should be accompanied by a formal, sincere apology for the harm caused. The IRCRC could act as an intermediary, if the victims were reluctant to accept payments directly from Israel. Furthermore, if the act was illegal in some way--negligent, malicious, or premeditated--then the Israelis should make sure that criminal prosecution against the perpetuators is pursued with no interference from the government.

Hamas understands the political benefit of victim payments perfectly well, which is why they are making them to families of Gazan casualties after the recent conflict.

I think that Israel can afford this generosity, and I think that it would do three things: (1) it would demonstrate the difference between an actual military target and collateral damage, in a very tangible way; (2) it would have an effect on Israelis as well: they would better understand that they should be more careful, and that they are responsible for civilian casualties and damages; and (3) the most obvious effect is that it would mitigate to some degree the suffering of innocent Palestinians caught in the crossfire.

By the way, it would also provide an example that other countries could well afford to follow, including the USA. As for the Palestinians echoing this for Israeli civilians, well, one can only hope.

Greg Shenaut