HAMISH ROBERTSON: Israeli F-16 warplanes and Apache helicopters have been busy over the skies of Gaza, launching four separate strikes against Hamas targets in the space of a few hours.
The attacks have killed at least six people, including two Hamas militants and a civilian bystander, and wounded more than 30 others, including a baby and several young children.
In an interview with AM, one of Israel’s most decorated fighter pilots has condemned air strikes which hit innocent civilians as “immoral” and “unlawful”.
Reserve Brigadier-General Yiftah Spector is the most senior of 27 Israeli airmen to sign a petition in which they say they no longer want to “obey illegal and immoral orders” or to take part in raids against populated civilians centres.
Our Middle East Correspondent, Mark Willacy, reports from Jerusalem.
MARK WILLACY: A casualty of Israel’s first missile strike, this two-year old Palestinian girl was hit in the head by shrapnel.
Also wounded in the F-16 attack were three other children and a 70-year old woman.
(fighting and yelling)
An hour later another missile slammed into a car being driven through downtown Gaza.
This strike killed two Hamas militants and a civilian bystander.
YIFTAH SPECTOR: First, it is unlawful and immoral to attack innocent civilians. Two, the situation of us oppressing another nation leads us to such unlawful, immoral situations.
MARK WILLACY: Yiftah Spector is one of Israel’s most decorated fighter pilots. Credited with 15 kills against enemy planes, Brigadier-General Spector is a veteran of the 1967 and Yom Kippur Wars, and he commanded Israel’s 1981 bombing of Iraq’s nuclear reactor.
But after four decades in the Air Force, he’s been stood down from his job as an instructor for signing a petition in which he and 26 other Israeli airmen say they’ll refuse to take part in raids against populated civilian centres.
YIFTAH SPECTOR: It is unlawful to hit innocent people, full stop. What I’m saying is that the situation should be solved politically so that we are not standing before such dilemmas every other day.
MARK WILLACY: How does Israel fight a war against an enemy that buries itself amongst a civilian population? Obviously Israel, to this point, believes that air strikes are a weapon to use in that situation.
YIFTAH SPECTOR: That’s not the way to go. It brings us to disaster, including to immoral, unlawful, according to our own law, occurrences every other day. So I’m talking to the Government. My feeling is that this Government is working on one thing and this is to survive, for many reasons, and being deaf, blind and stupid, as it is, she chooses stupid, blind and deaf conclusions and decisions.
MARK WILLACY: Yiftah Spector acknowledges that in the current climate of killing, the chance of negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians is non-existent.
YIFTAH SPECTOR: What should be done is disengagement, separation, with a border that should be as legitimate as possible, doing unilaterally by us because we are the stronger party and because this is my government that should be the wiser and more moral.
MARK WILLACY: But there’s no sign that the Israeli Government will change tack.
Like Yiftah Spector, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon is also an old general, but one with a history of using an iron fist against Israel’s enemies.
This is Mark Willacy in Jerusalem for AM.