Dempsey was asked about the ethical implications of Israel's handling of the Gaza war, during an appearance in New York at the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs.
"I actually do think that Israel went to extraordinary lengths to limit collateral damage and civilian casualties," Dempsey told the group.
"In this kind of conflict, where you are held to a standard that your enemy is not held to, you're going to be criticized for civilian casualties," he added.
Dempsey said Hamas had turned Gaza into "very nearly a subterranean society" with tunneling throughout the coastal enclave.
"That caused the IDF some significant challenges. But they did some extraordinary things to try and limit civilian casualties, to include ... making it known that they were going to destroy a particular structure," Dempsey said.
He said the IDF, in addition to dropping warning leaflets, developed a technique called "roof-knocking" to advise residents to leave sites they planned to strike.
Dempsey said the Pentagon three months ago sent a "lessons-learned team" of senior officers and non-commissioned officers to work with the IDF to see what could be learned from the Gaza operation, "to include the measures they took to prevent civilian casualties and what they did with tunneling."
The general said civilian casualties during the conflict were "tragic, but I think the IDF did what they could" to avoid them.
"The IDF is not interested in creating civilian casualties. They're interested in stopping the shooting of rockets and missiles out of the Gaza Strip and into Israel," Dempsey said.
That's a very different tune than what's being sung by the Obama administration and the 'human rights' organizations, isn't it? Jonathan Tobin comments.
The contradiction between Dempsey’s remarks and the blistering criticisms of Israeli behavior uttered by the State Department and White House is instructive. Dempsey not only undermined the credibility of anything said by the U.S. during the war. He also exposed the president’s political agenda against the Jewish state and its government, a point that was made clear in the recent controversy about “senior administration officials” telling The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg that Prime Minister Netanyahu was a “coward” and a “chickenshit.”
But the issue is not merely the falsity of the American carping about Israeli actions. There’s little doubt the White House and the State Department were well aware of the U.S. military’s opinion of what was going on in Gaza or the fact that American actions ordered by Obama produce much the same results.
The American military is right to seek to learn the lessons of Gaza and to do what they can to emulate Israeli actions. But the real agenda at play in Washington on this issue has been a concerted effort by the Obama administration to undermine Israel’s right of self-defense in order to weaken its ability to stand up to U.S. pressure. Seen in that light, the real lesson to be culled from this episode is that everything that comes out of the mouths of the president’s foreign-policy team with respect to Israel should be considered false until proven otherwise.
It's only going to get worse over the next two years....