Clearing Something Up About The IDF Spokesperson’s Role


Since my interest in electric cars started to grow (following my decision to buy one from Better Place) I’ve been spending some time reading tweet streams and hanging out in places on the web that I’d never been to before. I’m also hoping that perhaps some of my tweets, blog posts and articles are leading people who have a distorted view of Israel to read about Israel in a new light.

This morning I came across a post talking about the period a few weeks ago when southern Israel came under heavy and prolonged missile attack from Gaza on a blog called Politics and Sustainability. The post is broadly sympathetic but interesting for Israellycool readers. I also wanted to clear up a couple of misconceptions. Dave’s post begins:

I stumbled across these tweets – and had no idea that Israel was under any kind of attack.  I’d glanced through the news earlier this evening, and seen nothing.  Not until accidentally finding these tweets.

One thing that stands out is the idea of, every 30 minutes having to take cover.  This reminds me of one of the Battlestar Galactica episodes in which the Cylons would attack every 33 minutes, forcing the fleet to make an emergency jump every 33 minutes.  The thing is that, being machines, the Cylons could keep up the pace on and on and on, while the humans were getting tired and eventually would fail at something.

But this is not a fictional TV show, but real life, and the Palestinians aren’t evil robots, they are human beings.  The analogy was this concept of having to endure an attack so frequently, that it has to sap at you.

As someone living in a very calm and peaceful place, I find it hard to fathom what it must be like to live in Israel or for that matter the Palestinian territories.  On either side of this conflict life must be very tense for those living through these experiences.

The interesting part is that the author had “no idea that Israel was under any kind of attack”. I believe the author is in California and I follow his twitter stream mostly for his views on electric vehicles. What alerted him to this was the tweets of the IDF Spokesperson’s office such as:

Unfortunately the writer then worries that these are alarming things for an official government agency to be saying:

This is an arm of the Government, the Israeli Military, telling us to be afraid.  Is this the best highest sort of communication that should come from a Government official?  To be afraid?  Shouldn’t the Government official be attempting to offer reassurances, and useful advice?

Just to reassure Dave and inform: the job of the IDF Spokesperson and their twitter account, is to liase between IDF command and the press. They’re also quite good at talking to bloggers. They do not have any role talking to the Israeli public directly which is handled by a home defence ministry. That ministry organises shelters, hands out gas masks (we all have them) and are not shrill or hysterical. This post has a video of what it is really like to hear a siren and the following explosion.

All new homes built in Israel for many years are required to be built with bomb shelters (or more realistically safe rooms). This adds considerably to building expenses. These used to be communal and in basements but are more commonly today an actual room in a house or apartment. These rooms have toughened concrete walls, blast covers for windows (if they have windows) and special provision for filtered ventilation. This is nationwide: during the 2006 war with Hezbollah when they rained heavy rocket fire on the north it was found that some building in especially Arab villages had been built improperly: safe room provision was sub-standard and this was a law enforcement issue with Israel’s building authorities looking the other way when Arab builders cut corners to save costs. There should be no difference in the application of the same law to buildings no matter who builds them.

Another facet of daily life in Israel (again affecting Jews and Israeli Arabs alike) is the security checks on entering all buildings. These aren’t full TSA nonsense checks but do involve magnetometers, hand wands and a quick look inside bags. Cars are stopped on entering car parks and often the boot (trunk) is opened. We just live with this and pay the cost of staffing this effort.

That Israel endures this much is almost unbelievable. That the world’s media ignores all this is a shame on all of them. They only know how to scream loudly when Israel uses specially de-powered Hellfire missiles to kill specific individuals who work to kill our civilians. Yes, the Hellfire missiles Israel uses are specifically low yield so that single cars can be destroyed with a minimum chance of hurting innocents because the men who try to kill our children are nearly always to be found hiding amongst their own children.

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