“Knock on the roof” absolves Israel over civilian deaths? Yeah right.

Stung by international criticism of their airstrikes in civilian residential areas in Gaza, Israel has adopted a “knock on the roof” system to warn civilians that their homes are going to be destroyed, launching a less destructive missile on the roofs of target buildings so anyone inside can evacuate before the real bombs come. Alternatively the Israeli Defence Force will phone with a warning. Thus Israel claim that they are doing all they can to avoid killing civilians.

I find this rather disingenuous. In the Guardian, Peter Beaumont spoke to 2 victims of this “warning” technique. Dr Nasser Tatar, director general of Gaza’s largest medical facility, the Shifa hospital, had his home and private clinic destroyed.

He says he had just returned to his family on Sunday night after working a week straight at an overwhelmed hospital short of resources. “We’ve had tens of deaths and hundreds of injured. I needed to be at the hospital,” he says. “It was just after the time for breaking the Ramadan fast at 7.50pm.

“The IDF called my nephew with a 10-minute warning saying that they planned to destroy my house. Because it took him several minutes to find me, it was less than 10 minutes. I got my family out quickly and warned my neighbours to take care. Then they hit my house with a rocket and then a second.”

And Beaumont witnessed a “knock on the roof” attack. He writes:

In a side street in Gaza’s Shati camp, an Israeli warning missile has just “knocked on the roof” of Alaa Hadeedi’s house, filling the road with a thin mist of smoke. A few ambulances have rushed to the scene and are waiting 100 metres or so from the house. Behind them, a crowd of wary neighbours gather to watch.

There is a sudden shout as someone hears the sound of the second missile – a live bomb this time – and the crowd surges backwards. Alaa Hadeedi’s house explodes in a billowing cloud of concrete and wood fragments.

A driver by trade, Alaa Hadeedi – who was not at home when the missile hit – stored gasoline inside his house. It ignites in an orange fireball

Israel claims this method of “avoiding civilian deaths” is a careful and humane practice, its drone operators and pilots holding back against the risk of collateral damage. But the fact remains that most of the casualties have been civilians. And now Israel has warned residents of northern Gaza to evacuate the area – a chilling warning.

During the Troubles in Northern Ireland, the IRA almost routinely phoned warnings to targets and the police and army before setting off their bombs. Did the warnings make the bombings okay? If I tell someone that I’m going to punch their child in the face, does the warning make the assault okay?

Israel is a terrorist state. So when will the UN sanctions and US military action going to start?

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