Tag Archive for: double and triple standards

Professor John Spencer on the Double Standards Applied to the IDF

John Spencer served in the US Army for twenty-five years, including two tours in Iraq. Since then he been a Professor of Urban Warfare at West Point. Recognized as an expert in his field, John Spencer has become more widely known for his recent writings on the IDF’s conduct of its war against Hamas in Gaza. His latest posting on the subject can be found here: “‘Israel is measured by double and triple standards,’ does more than anyone to prevent civilian harm, US warfare expert says,” All Israel News, June 27, 2024:

“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….

“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.”

One more statistic, that is not included in this piece by Spencer, but that he has provided in many of his other articles on the Gaza war, tells us as a great deal about the IDF’s solicitude for the lives of civilians. This is the ratio of civilian-to-combatant deaths. The UN has said that in all the wars fought since 1945, the average ratio was 9:1, or nine civilian deaths for every combatant death. In Afghanistan, the Americans managed to reduce that ratio to 4:1, and in Iraq to 3:1. But no army in the world has come close to what the IDF has achieved in Gaza. Hamas has claimed 38,000 dead, without providing separate figures for civilians and Hamas combatants. The IDF now says it has killed 17,000 operatives — and that is without counting those members of Hamas who were killed when the rubble of bombed buildings landed on top of them. That would mean 21,000 civilian deaths. From that number we have to subtract the 800 Gazans who die each month of natural causes; over eight months that figure would account for 6400 civilian deaths. That brings the total number of civilian deaths to 14,600. How many of those 14,600 civilians were killed not by the IDF, but by the estimated 20% of Hamas rockets that fell inside Gaza? A most conservative estimate would be 200 a month, or 1,600 over the first eight months of the war. That brings down the number of civilians killed by Israeli fire to 13,000, while the number of combatant deaths so far is 17,000. The civilian-to-combatant ratio in Gaza is thus 13:17, which is less than 1:1 – a ratio unheard of, as Professor Spencer has said, in the annals of modern warfare.



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