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Monday, November 29, 2004

Ethical Dilemmas in Fighting Terrorism - Maj. Gen. Amos Yadlin

Summary:

When the IDF updated its military doctrine in 2003, Prof. Asa Kasher, Professor of Professional Ethics at Tel Aviv University, joined me on an ethics committee to craft principles on how to make moral and ethical decisions in Israel's operational campaign against terror.

As we sought to formulate how to fight terror, we understood that the main asymmetry is in the values of the two societies involved in the conflict - in the rules they obey. We are fighting with a people that have totally different values and rules of engagement.


How do we differentiate between terrorists and non-terrorists? Everyone who is directly involved in terror is a legitimate target. Those who are indirectly involved in terror are not a legitimate target.
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Some asked if the collateral damage was producing future terrorists. We found that because of the level of incitement, the collateral damage only raised public support for terror from 95 to 96 percent.
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In August 2002 we had all the leadership of Hamas in one room and we knew we needed a 2,000-pound bomb to eliminate all of them. Think about having Osama bin Laden and all the top leadership of al-Qaeda in one house. However, use of a 2,000-pound bomb was not approved - we used a much smaller bomb - and they all got up and ran away.
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We should do the job at the checkpoints ethically, professionally, and as fast as we can because we have to care about the many times the ambulance is really carrying somebody who needs help.
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The bottom line is that Israel has to fight terror because terror declared war on us. In the current war Israel has lost over 1,000 people - equivalent to the U.S. suffering 45,000 dead and 300,000 wounded. We can win, but we must do it ethically as the Jewish people, as a democratic state, and as IDF officers who respect our ethical profession."