Shkedi, Go Home

Air Force Commander Eliezer Shkedi should resign. Someone must take responsibility for the series of operational and moral failures of the air force and that person, before anyone else, is the corps' commander.

Air Force Commander Eliezer Shkedi should resign. Someone must take responsibility for the series of operational and moral failures of the air force and that person, before anyone else, is the corps' commander. He who praised the resignation of Col. Erez, commander of the base where a fifteen-year-old girl was passed around by soldiers as a sex toy, saying that Erez "reflected command and values of the highest order, taking responsibility only because the events took place in the base he commanded," should apply the same sublime criteria to himself. If serial rape is a reason for drawing personal conclusions - meaning resignation - then it is far truer for the serial killing of innocent civilians, including babies, children and a pregnant woman. The killing is at least a reason for resignation if not prosecution: This is about bearing responsibility for death or, at the very least, negligent homicide.

Even someone whose moral profile has been so twisted that he cannot see the killing of children as a reason to resign, then the operational failures of the air force - shooting missiles at a house instead of a car, shooting missiles into a crowded street that someone decided was empty, shooting missiles while the wanted men scatter, and shooting a missile that hits two cars instead of one - should lead to the proper conclusion. Is it even conceivable that the IDF would kill 23 civilians (not including the seven members of the Ghalia family), 15 of them by the air force - including three children and a doctor and his pregnant sister in two days - and things would go on as if nothing happened? Is it possible that this serial failure is an orphan? What message is being sent by this behavior to the pilots of the air force - that it is not so bad that innocents get killed? Last year the air force commander took pride in a 1:28 ratio between innocent civilians and wanted men being killed. Well, since the beginning of the year, that ratio has shrunk to 1:5.

Shkedi has been arguing for some time that his air force makes no less than "superhuman efforts" to reduce the number of civilians who are harmed. If that is true, then those efforts have been a complete failure. But "superhuman" as they may be, the efforts were doomed from the start to fail. Once the IDF adopted the stupid method of shooting missiles into densely populated centers, the writing was on the wall that children would be killed. It's not that they were killed by accident. It was inevitable from the start.

There are those who say that the harm to innocents is actually the goal of these operations, to create deterrence and pressure on Palestinian society. That grave accusation must be rejected and the air force believed when it says it has no intention of harming civilians. But the question of intention has outlasted its validity. Those who fire missiles into Industry Street in Gaza, and wipe out an entire family - the Aman family - cannot claim they did not intend to harm them, because it is impossible to launch a missile into a crowded street without harming civilians.

Therefore the real operational failure is not "human error" of this or that kind, but the system and even if the system is derived from government policy - when its method of execution is so costly in terms of innocent lives, then the person directly responsible for the execution of policy is the one who should pay the price. "Visint," "Sigint," and "Humint," the three intelligence measures that precede every assassination, together with 15 tracking devices and two special command and control centers - one for the Shin Bet, the other for the IDF - and even changing the type of munitions from Hellfire missiles to four different types of missiles: All this does not change the basic picture. The precision cameras that watch the target of assassination and always show empty streets in a place where there practically are no empty streets, don't help at all. Those who order a pilot to fire into a street are ordering him to kill innocent civilians. The moral meaning is as sharp as a razor. Therefore the only thing to do is stop the killing. When a flaw is discovered in one of the planes, the air force usually grounds all the planes of the same type. That is now what must be done with the assassination method. But the IDF intends to continue with its criminal method. The defense minister has not ordered otherwise. Something must be done to please the residents of Sderot, even if everyone knows that no military measure will bring an absolute end to the Qassam fire.

The killing that has gone on in the last few days has passed without protest in Israel. The CEO of the Electric Corp. was asked if he should resign after a few elevators were stuck; nobody even thinks of asking the head of the air force to resign. But serene Israel should ask itself where it is heading. If the only answer is that the assassinations will continue and nobody bear responsibility for their victims, then it is no wonder we are excoriated in the world. We should not be surprised if IDF commanders will soon have to avoid traveling overseas to avoid prosecution. The air force commander who is responsible for the killing and has not drawn conclusions indeed deserves to be a pariah and sought out. Not the minister? Not the chief of staff? Not the wing commander? Not the squad commander? Not the commander who gave the okay to fire? Not the pilot who pressed the button? And not even the commander of the air force? Is nobody guilty?