| Outlook |

Very Simple, Really

Israel’s entry into Gaza has nothing to do with exacting revenge. It is an act of self-defense, pure and simple


amas is the best spokesman for Israel. The most gruesome footage of the atrocities of October 7 comes from the body cameras worn by the invading savages. Unlike the Nazis yemach shemam, notes the estimable Douglas Murray, the Hamas murderers were not even ashamed of their lack of any flicker of humanity.

Next Ghazi Hamad, a senior member of Hamas’s political bureau, proclaimed on Lebanese TV that Hamas’s attacks on October 7 were just the first of many to come, and that the Gaza-Israeli border would be one of continual warfare. “Israel is a country that has no place in our land. We must remove it because it constitutes a security, military, and political catastrophe to the Arab and Islamic nation,” he explained. In short, Israel must be destroyed.

There is no reason to doubt Hamad’s sincerity on this point. He is simply repeating what is already explicit in Hamas’s charter. Thus Israel has no choice but to destroy Hamas. Indeed Israel may be obligated to do so under the anti-genocide conventions, in light of Hamas’s expressed genocidal intent towards the Jews of Israel.

Israel’s entry into Gaza has nothing to do with exacting revenge. It is an act of self-defense, pure and simple. True, the bloodthirsty mobs on campuses and in major metropolitan areas worldwide bellow that Israel is a colonialist intruder in the Middle East, and lacks any right to exist. But they can hardly expect Israel to acquiesce in that judgment and agree to its own disappearance. Point one.

Point two: Destroying Hamas requires destroying its vast network of underground tunnels, which rival the London underground in length, and eliminating its entire military command and infrastructure.

Point three: Because Hamas locates all its military assets in or under civilian areas — hospitals, schools, mosques, and apartment buildings — that destruction will inevitably result in the deaths of civilians. Of course, we will never know how many, as figures reported by the Hamas Health Ministry lack all credibility. That same Health Ministry claimed 500 dead from a bomb on the Al-Ahli Arab Hospital — a claim dutifully reported by the international press. The actual number was 50 or less, and from an errant Islamic Jihad rocket to boot.

Similarly, in Operation Defensive Shield in 2002, Palestinians claimed that Israeli forces killed 5,000 Palestinians, and UN Special Middle East Envoy Terje Roed-Larsen and Philip Reeves of the Independent buttressed those claims with descriptions of the smell of death so pervasive one could simply not stand in Jenin. The actual number of Palestinian deaths, however, was 56, of which almost all were Palestinian fighters.

However many or few Gazan civilians have died or will die in the current fighting, all their deaths are attributed to Hamas under international law as a result of Hamas’s refusal to observe the rule of distinction, which requires it to separate military infrastructure from civilians.

Hamas courts those civilian deaths. Every civilian killed is a “martyr” in its view, and as Hamad put it, “we are proud to sacrifice our martyrs.” Hamas takes no responsibility for the Gazan civilian population. Asked by Russian Today’s Arabic language station on October 27 why Hamas has never built any bomb shelters for Gaza’s civilians, Moussa Abu Marzouk, another senior Hamas political bureau figure, replied from his safe redoubt in Qatar that the underground tunnels are exclusively for the protection of Hamas fighters. But responsibility for providing for the needs of the civilian population, which elected Hamas in 2007, rests with the UN (UNRWA) and Israel.

Finally, dead civilians are a propaganda bonanza for Hamas, and the means by which Hamas secures international support for a ceasefire. For that reason, Hamas has attempted to block Gazans from fleeing south in response to Israel’s warnings to do so, and has even fired on caravans fleeing the fighting in northern Gaza.

The only party with an interest in keeping civilian casualties to a minimum is Israel. And that has always been the case. What Colonel Richard Kemp, former High Commander of British expeditionary forces in Afghanistan, and someone with a lifetime of experience in asymmetric conflicts, said of the IDF in Operation Cast Lead remains true today: No army in the history of warfare has done more to minimize civilian deaths.

Even the BBC, not generally known for its excessive sympathy for Israel, last week interviewed Dr. Mahmoud Shaheen, a Gazan dentist who described how he had received a phone call from a fluent Arabic speaker urging him to tell all the residents of three neighboring apartment buildings to evacuate immediately, as the Israeli air force was about to bomb those buildings. The Israeli caller kept him on the phone for an hour. The buildings were bombed, as forewarned, but no civilians died as a consequence.

Later that same evening, Shaheen received a call from another Arabic speaker instructing him to bring the same warning to residents of another set of nearby buildings. And again, Israel planes did not drop their bombs until they were assured that the buildings had been evacuated.

Point four: Those demonstrating around the world and demanding a ceasefire pretend to be moved by the terrible humanitarian crisis in Gaza and by Israel’s allegedly genocidal attacks. Yet their ceasefire calls are inevitably accompanied by enthusiastic calls for the elimination of Israel: “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free”; “Just one final solution: worldwide intifada.”

If they really cared as much about the Palestinian population of Gaza as they do about the extermination of the Jews of Israel, they would be fervently hoping for the elimination of Hamas as quickly as possible. Hamas’s leaders, like Arafat before them, siphon off vast sums of international aide to build seaside villas or to live luxuriously abroad. A number of them are estimated to be billionaires.

Anything that can be put to military use — water pipes to fashion rockets; concrete to build tunnels — is. The needs of the civilian population count for nothing. Even now, Hamas is well-stocked with gas, water, and electricity in its underground lairs, while the civilian population goes without.

The Allies’ demand for “unconditional surrender” by Germany and Japan at the end of the World War II is the relevant historical precedent for the current battle. Hundreds of thousands of German civilians died in the last months of the war in Europe and even more in Japan, with the firebombing of Tokyo and the dropping of nuclear weapons on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

But without that unconditional surrender, the denazification of Germany and the end of the emperor cult in Japan could never have come about. Only by shedding their authoritarian culture were Germany and Japan able to enjoy their post-war prosperity and become the crucial bulwarks of the Western alliance.

There can never be peace between Israel and Palestinians as long as Palestinian children are raised on the goal of Israel’s destruction. But that is precisely what they are taught in the UN-run schools in Gaza — that Israel’s very existence is, as Hamad said, a “catastrophe to the Arab and Islamic nation.”

Yassir Arafat walked away from an offer at Camp David in 2000 far beyond the Israeli consensus because he had never prepared his people for peace — i.e., acceptance of Israel’s existence in any borders. And accepting Israel’s permanence would have left him, in his words, “a dead man walking.”

That same yearning for the end of Israel permeates all the demonstrations in support of Hamas today and the social media posts of Palestinian academics and doctors (and many non-Palestinians as well), whether they are devout Muslims or not. That frenzy of hatred makes all talk of a two-state solution in the present pure happy talk.

The one place where that hatred is diminished, as has been clear in recent weeks, is among Israel’s Arab population, who have enjoyed the benefits of life in Israel, both in terms of their prosperity and their individual freedoms. Whenever a proposal is broached for a return of certain Palestinian areas to a future Palestinian state, the residents’ protests are loud and overwhelming. And at least part of the reason is that those living in Israel are not educated to loathe Jews or on fantasies that they will disappear into the sea.

The relative wellbeing of Israeli Arabs, as compared to their fellow Palestinians, could serve one day as a beacon of hope for all Palestinians, including those of Gaza. But first Hamas must be eradicated entirely.


(Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 986. Yonoson Rosenblum may be contacted directly at rosenblum@mishpacha.com)

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