update deskIsrael at War

Ex-US Army chief: ‘Israel has every right to defend itself’

An attack on the US equivalent to that carried out by Hamas on Oct. 7 would have caused up to 100,000 deaths, said Gen. Mark Milley: "Can you imagine what we would do? I mean, seriously."

Israeli Minister of Defense Yoav Gallant (right) in Israel with then-U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark A. Milley on Aug. 22, 2023. Photo by Ariel Hermoni/Ministry of Defense of Israel.
Israeli Minister of Defense Yoav Gallant (right) in Israel with then-U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark A. Milley on Aug. 22, 2023. Photo by Ariel Hermoni/Ministry of Defense of Israel.

Retired U.S. Army chief Gen. Mark Milley last week supported Israel’s response to the Hamas-led massacre of Oct. 7, emphasizing that the Jewish state “has a right to defend itself.”

Speaking at the Ash Carter Exchange on Innovation and National Security panel in Washington on May 7, Milley, who served as Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman from 2019 until 2023, reminded the audience that it was Israel that was attacked on Oct. 7.

“Twelve hundred people were slaughtered. Not just killed in the conduct of war, they were slaughtered—beheaded, butchered, raped in front of their husbands. It was stuff that was not even a hair’s breadth removed from what the Nazis did,” he said.

An equivalent attack on the United States would have meant the deaths of 50,000 to 100,000 people in a single morning, he noted.

“Can you imagine what we would do? I mean, seriously. So Israel has every right to defend itself,” he added.

With regard to the civilian casualty rate in Gaza, Milley said, “War is a horrible thing. I’ve had a lot of years in combat. I’ve been shot at, blown up, the whole nine yards, right. It’s a horrible, brutal, vicious thing.”

Collateral damage is inevitable in the kind of war Israel is currently fighting, he said.

“And unfortunately, because the character of war is going to be in dense urban areas, the very conduct of war is going to have very high levels of collateral damage. There’s almost no way around it. But if there’s any morality at all, you need to get into it, achieve your political objectives, get it done, get it done fast and get it over with.”

Milley also fired back at “peace activists” criticizing Israel’s conduct in Gaza, saying that “they’re out there supporting a terrorist organization [Hamas], whose very written charter calls for the death of all Jews, not just in Israel, worldwide. I mean, come on now. If you’re going to support that, you’re on the wrong side.”

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