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‘Israel is measured by double and triple standards,’ does more than anyone to prevent civilian harm, US warfare expert says

Israel goes above and beyond to prevent human harm, argues John Spencer

Israeli soldiers operating in Gaza (Photo: IDF)

“Israel is being measured by double and triple standards” in its fighting in Gaza, a standard “that does not exist anywhere in the world,” said John Spencer, head of Urban Warfare Studies at West Point, at a recent “War Room” briefing in collaboration with the Jerusalem Institute for Public and State Affairs (JCPA).

Spencer, the world-renowned urban warfare who served for 25 years as an infantry soldier and did two tours in Iraq, has publicly and repeatedly defended and praised the Israel Defense Forces' performance during the Gaza War in recent months.

“The IDF uses tactics that no army has ever seen to prevent harm to civilians and still fulfill its mission,” Spencer told the JCPA after visiting the soldiers of the IDF’s 98th Division in the field.

He also stridently rejected international accusations that Israel was using starvation as a weapon, bombing indiscriminately or committing genocide.

“It’s all a lie,” Spencer declared, noting that if the standards currently applied to Israel were applied to Western countries in the future, it would make anti-terror warfare almost impossible.

Such standards include requiring the massive evacuation of a population before entering an area, not using heavy “bunker-buster” bombs to reach enemies hidden away underground, and the demand to prevent any and all civilian casualties.

“It’s impossible and unimaginable,” Spencer stressed.

“When ISIS ruled Iraq, it held the territory for about two years and built up its defenses. In the battles against the terrorist organization, the number of dead ranged from 10,000 to 40,000 people, and the numbers were reported only after a year,” Spencer said, criticizing the use of unreliable Hamas casualty numbers to determine the proportionality of Israel’s actions.

“No one posed a question to the United States then, how many civilians were killed? And no one asked ISIS that question. It’s simply impossible.”

“This imaginary standard of zero civilian casualties in a war where Israel is required to meet a new standard is very problematic,” Spencer emphasized.

He has made this point repeatedly over the past months. In an article in Newsweek in March, Spencer brought up the IDF’s operation at Al-Shifa Hospital as an example of the lengths the army goes to prevent civilian harm in Gaza.

“Israeli media reported that doctors accompanied the forces to help Palestinian patients if needed. They were also reported to be carrying food, water and medical supplies for the civilians inside,” Spencer wrote.

“None of this meant anything to Israel's critics, of course, who immediately pounced. The critics, as usual, didn't call out Hamas for using protected facilities like hospitals for its military activity.”

“In their criticism, Israel's opponents are erasing a remarkable, historic new standard Israel has set. In my long career studying and advising on urban warfare for the U.S. military, I've never known an army to take such measures to attend to the enemy's civilian population, especially while simultaneously combating the enemy in the very same buildings.”

“The international community, and increasingly the United States, barely acknowledges these measures while repeatedly excoriating the IDF for not doing enough to protect civilians… Instead, the U.S. and its allies should be studying how they can apply the IDF's tactics for protecting civilians,” Spencer wrote.

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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