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Of course they could help themselves!

If it weren't so tragic what is happening to the Gazans as Israel relentlessly pounds the area, a piece of black humour from Mark Steele writing "Of course there are going to be casualties when Gazans selfishly insist on living in civilian areas - There’s no helping some people is there?" in The Independent.

"Here’s a way to make life safer in the Middle-East. As the Israelis insist they’re “making huge efforts to avoid civilian casualties,” we should improve the standard of “avoiding civilian casualties” lessons in the Israeli region.

Presumably, at the moment, a teacher says, “Can anyone give me one way of making a huge effort to avoid civilian casualties?” Then a student, eager to impress, says, “What about bombing a block of flats, sir?”

Then the teacher says ‘Excellent. But to make extra sure, you need to reduce the entire block to a heap of smoking rubble, and demolish the nearby hospital as well. I  don’t see how anyone could make a huger effort than that.”

Their standards don’t seem all that high on this issue, as I know several people who have had no training at all in avoiding civilian casualties, but still manage to go several weeks without blasting a hole through a school or dismembering 15 people in a family.

One of their methods was described by military spokesman Lt Col Peter Lerner, who said: “We phone up our enemies and tell them that we are going to blow up the building.” Some people, you feel, show TOO much compassion, and need to think of themselves sometimes for a change.

But this strategy raises other questions. For example, do the Israelis really have the phone numbers of everyone they bomb? Are their commanders sat in a control room, getting flustered as they give their orders to the pilot of an F-16 bomber, spluttering, “Hang on, I must have deleted his number? We can’t explode him without a warning, so instead as I’ve got the number of the garden centre up the road from there. I’ll call them and you can obliterate that instead.”

And what happens when someone answers? Does Lt Col Lerner ask them a series of security questions, such as, “What is your mother’s maiden name?” to confirm that the IDF isn’t warning the wrong person?

They have also, according to Lt Col Lerner, sent text messages to their targets, in an unprecedented display of chivalry. I should think that as you’re crawling out of a heap of burning plasterboard that used to be your living room, it makes all the difference to hear a beep and see you’ve got a message saying: “Hi, set 4 gr8 boom 2 mins OMG too la8 soz xxx.”



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