If you live in Gaza, this is how the IDF warns you that your apartment building is about to be blown up:
Because we live in a media environment in which The Newspaper Of Record repeatedly refers to Israeli munitions “finding” their targets, not “killing” those targets or “blowing up entire city blocks”:
— Tomas Rios (@TheTomasRios) July 11, 2014
— Ken Klippenstein (@KenKlippenstein) July 16, 2014
…the act of bombing an occupied apartment building before bombing it again is referred to as “knocking on the roof.” The bombs have to give a little knock, you see, before they can find you. And then you and the bomb have a nice hug and probably go out for coffee or something, as far as the New York Times knows. Or, for the rest of us, you get a little time to try to get the hell out of the building before the whole thing is destroyed. What if it’s a really big building? Does the IDF have a seconds/floor guideline to determine how much time they should give people to evacuate after the “knock”?
Israeli forces also sometimes call people in advance of bombing their homes, both to give the people a chance to get out of there and to demonstrate that they control Gaza’s communications infrastructure. The IDF of course contends that this is all great evidence of its humanitarianism. Sure they’re blowing up people’s homes and killing a bunch of people (over 200 dead and counting, and the vast majority of them civilians), but they’re giving people a chance, kind of, to get out of the line of fire. The implicit assumption there being that any Gazan who doesn’t avail himself or herself of the chance to flee must obviously be a legitimate target, not unlike how America counts all military-aged males killed in a drone strike as legitimate targets unless proven otherwise (posthumously, of course, because Oops). Which is obviously reasonable; the 8 disabled and mostly bedridden Palestinians who were killed a few days ago when the IDF bombed their care facility must have had something to hide, or else they would have, um, well, I’m sure they were really bad people.
Critics, who just don’t understand that you can’t make an omelet without killing a couple hundred civilians, don’t see the humanitarianism here for some reason. They’re all tied up in the idea that whether you warn them or not, bombing civilians and collective punishment are still war crimes. Amnesty International goes so far as to argue that the short interval between the “knock” and its follow up (Israel says three minutes, but the video above says one minute, and even if you argue that the above video was edited, three minutes isn’t that much time) can’t possibly provide enough time for people to get clear of the target area. Plus, they seem to have evidence of people being killed and injured by the “knocks” themselves, which couldn’t possibly be true since you can see it’s just a tiny tap with a “small,” um, bomb. For some reason they seem to think that the related IDF habit of “knocking” and then not following up with a real strike is some kind of psychological warfare, seeing as how it both terrorizes people and risks desensitizing them to future “knocks” and thereby increasing the likelihood of casualties.