This past week three different targeted assasination attempts in Gaza included civilian casualties. This unfortunate and regrettable fact is of course being used by various forces in order to pressure the IAF to stop this type of operation.
Whether or not you agree with this, I found in very interesting to see how the Israel Air Force has reacted to these type of incidents, and to see just how much they have learned.
Yaakov Katz has a good analysis here in the Jerusalem Post, where he details how the IAF is developing more accurate munitions, and how they try to learn from the mistakes of the past.
What I personally find much more interesting, though, is how they have learned to deal with the local press. I have read the articles in all of the English web sites, and I listened to two separate interviews on IDF radio of pilots who have done targeted assasinations.
Both pilots were interviewed by female, left leaning reporters. They both were asked, over and over, how the pilots felt about killing civilians. Both pilots spoke calmly and clearly, and basically said the same thing: "We feel badly about civilian casualties, but we know that we take every precaution humanly possible to avoid them, and if we stop our operations altogether it means civilians on our side will be hurt or killed."
It is obvious to me that the reporters are looking for another Dan Halutz moment. Halutz was interviewed after bombing the apartment building where a Hamas leader was killed, and asked how he felt about the civilians killed then too. The reporter repeated the question, and when he was asked again what he felt when he dropped the bomb, he retorted that he felt a small movement under his seat when the bomb fell. (Sort of the Israeli version of "you are stuck on stupid"). The left went wild at this, and even tried to get him thrown out of the Air Force by going to the Surpeme Court. It is particularly galling to them that he is now the IDF Chief of Staff.
The IAF was also careful to emphasize that if they cannot use this type of operation, then their only other alternative is to plan a major ground offensive, which means moving in troops to the northern part of Gaza. Less than a year after the disengagement, this would be an admission of failure for those who pushed it so hard, and both the left and the IAF knows this.A subtle, but persuasive, way of telling the media to tone it down.