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The · Psychohistorian

What happened to the IDF?

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A few days ago, a U.N. aid convoy in Gaza reported being shelled by the Israeli Defense Force, despite staying in contact with the IDF and keeping them informed of its location. More recently, the IDF shelled the U.N. relief headquarters in Gaza, for which the Israeli defense minister has apologized, calling it a "grave mistake".

In the wake of these attacks, the U.N. temporarily suspended relief efforts in Gaza. That worked to put more pressure on Hamas to accept a cease fire on terms favorable to the Israelis. Conspiracy theorists might think assume that the actions were not as much of a mistake as Barak has said.

Generally, though, it makes sense not to blame malevolence where incompetence may be the cause. Lower level Israeli commanders might have thought the U.N. compound was a Hamas building, given the 700 refugees collected there. It's quite possible that the artillery unit involved in the earlier incident was just not communicating with the people talking to the U.N. convoy. It's even possible that some IDF soldiers don't know the difference between the high explosive shells normally used on buildings and the white phosphorus smoke shells said to have been used on the U.N. compound in violation of international law. Such things happen in every war.

Still, that's a mistake every few days - compared to, for example, U.S. forces in Iraq, who only made mistakes like that once every few years. Three decades ago, the IDF was one of the most vaunted and feared armies in the world. Have they lost their touch?

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