From day one of its existence, the sole raison d’etre of the Hamas quasi-state in Gaza has been to kill Jews, the more the merrier.
Since taking over the Gaza Strip in 2007, Hamas has siphoned off billions of dollars of foreign aid money to build a vast labyrinth of underground tunnels, whose only purpose is to hide rockets to be launched at Israel’s civilian population and to facilitate mass terror attacks in the form of cross-border raids on kibbutzim, moshavim and towns close to the border.
All the human energy of the Gaza Strip has gone into the digging of the tunnels, often by hand. The very magnitude of the effort both impresses and depresses, for it is a measure of the Jew-hatred of Hamas and its followers.
Hamas proudly proclaims in its Charter its goal of reclaiming the entirety of Palestine and killing all the Jews. Article VI of the Charter announces that the Islamic resistance movement exists to raise the banner of Allah over every inch of Palestine.
Article VII states that the final resurrection will not come until Muslims fight the Jews and the very trees call out, “There is a Jew hiding behind me. Come and kill him.”
The Charter goes on to explain why no Jewish state can exist. Palestine has belonged to the Islamic Wakf from time immemorial and will do so until the resurrection (Article XI), and whoever renounces even one inch of it is as if he had renounced Islam (Article XIII). Peace conferences and efforts at a permanent settlement with Israel are decried as no more than an effort to introduce non-believers as arbitrators over the lands of Islam (Article XIII). Finally, it is the binding duty of every Muslim to engage in jihad to liberate Palestine (Article XV).
Nor are the citizens of Gaza “free of all sin,” as they are so often described. In 2006, Hamas won a decisive majority of seats in the Palestinian parliament.
And in 2007, it seized control of Gaza from the Palestinian Authority with surprising ease. Palestinians, including the vast majority of Gazans, voted for Hamas with full knowledge of its Charter and utter rejection of Israel’s existence. Like most ideological movements, Hamas has always put its beliefs front and center and made no effort to hide them.
Since 2007, Hamas’s popularity has been greatest among the population of Gaza when its operatives succeeded in killing Jews, and its claim to superiority over Fatah has always been that it is a more effective fighting force against Israel. Were Hamas’s rockets enjoying more success killing Jews today, Gazans would again be celebrating wildly and passing out candies.
There have been no widespread protests in Gaza against Hamas’s diverting most of its foreign aid into creating the infrastructure for attacking the Jews.
Even before the 2006 Palestinian elections, Gazans revealed themselves to be far more focused on destroying Israel than on the development of their own society. When Israel evacuated the Gaza Strip in 2005, it left behind 3,000 productive and highly profitable hothouses to help build a viable Palestinian economy. But instead of taking advantage of that largesse, Gazans trashed the hothouses and began shooting rockets at Israel at far faster clip than prior to the Israeli withdrawal.
In short, Gaza’s citizens are no less complicit with the Hamas regime than were overwhelming majority of German civilians, who eagerly supported Hitler’s war aims.
The existence of the attack tunnels under Israel’s border and the threat to the life and safety of Israeli citizens they represent would have fully justified a preemptive strike to destroy those tunnels. But that is not what happened. Hamas initiated the current conflict. The kidnapping and murder of Eyal Yifrah, Gil-Ad Shaer and Naftali Fraenkel was carried out by Hamas operatives acting on orders from above. That kidnapping was then followed by the firing of hundreds of rockets at Israel, and the firing of rockets on Israeli civilians has continued without break.
Despite the fact that Hamas was and remains the clear aggressor, continuing to fire rockets at Israel and mount cross-border raids, major European capitals erupted last week in mass demonstrations denouncing Israel’s “genocidal” aggression on the innocent Palestinians of Gaza. None of those demonstrators, it should be noted, previously bestirred themselves to protest the more than 150,000 Syrian civilians killed over the past three years (700 in two days last week alone), or the truly genocidal campaign of Sudanese Muslims against their black co-religionists in Darfur, or the systematic expulsion of Christians from every place in the Muslim Middle East. Somehow the only dead children that move them are those who die as a result of Israeli military action.
Nor have the demonstrators felt any imperative to distinguish between their hatred of Israel and their hatred of Jews. Synagogues have come under siege and Jewish businesses have been burned to the ground. The dogs of anti-Semitism have been loosed once again in Europe and they will not be soon contained. Three-quarters of France’s Jewish community, Europe’s largest, are contemplating aliya, as France become increasingly unlivable for Jews. The Jews of Great Britain and Belgium may not be far behind.
But even more distressing than the open anti-Semites are the nincompoops who enable Hamas’s strategy of maximizing civilian casualties. The list is a long one, but includes CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, who badgered Economy and Trade Minister Naftali Bennett to confess Israel’s sins over the apparent deaths of four children on a Gaza beach from an errant Israeli artillery shell; UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who labeled Israel’s actions in Gaza City’s Shejaia neighborhood “atrocious”; Secretary of State John Kerry’s angry and sarcastic comment (caught when he thought he was off-camera) about Palestinian deaths in house-to-house fighting – “It’s a hell of a pinpoint action, it’s a hell of a pinpoint action”; and President Barack Obama’s “growing concern” about rising civilian casualties.
By what standards do Ban Ki-moon and Kerry term Israel’s actions “atrocious” or less than “pinpoint”? Palestinian civilians were given two days’ warning to leave the neighborhood. But Hamas cynically ordered them to stay and blocked their flight. Both international law and morality make Hamas the culpable party for their deaths, as Israeli soldiers battled their way through the neighborhood uncovering multiple high-value military targets, while exposed to sniper fire, mines and booby-trapped houses.
Over 80 percent of the Palestinian casualties so far have been males – 50% between the ages of 18 and 28 and 66% between 18 and 38. Israel actually seems to be doing a remarkably good job of minimizing non-combatant deaths. As Lt.-Col. Richard Kemp, high commander of British NATO forces in Afghanistan, and a man with unparalleled experience in asymmetric warfare has said many times, no country in the history of warfare has taken more extraordinary measures to protect civilian lives than Israel.
Does Kerry have the foggiest notion of how many innocent civilians have been killed by US drones in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen, or were killed by NATO bombing in the Balkans, in situations where ground troops were far from harm’s way? The Western media also encourage Hamas’s strategy of self-inflicted civilian deaths with its mindless narrative of “cycle of violence” and comparisons of the body counts on both sides as a measure of right and wrong. But the repeated military conflicts with Hamas are not a Hatfield-McCoy feud in which every death on one side must be avenged by more deaths on the other side. One side initiated the war and that same side could end it by renouncing its desire to go on killing Jews. Israel is fighting to remove mortal threats to its civilian population, not for revenge.
The media treat the lack of Israeli civilian casualties as proof that Hamas’s rockets are a mere nuisance, hardly worth getting riled about. But the $50,000 to $100,000 cost of each Iron Dome missile fired, the hundreds of millions of shekels in losses to the Israeli economy daily from mobilization, and, most of all, the psychological trauma inflicted on Israeli civilians from having to continually rush for shelter are not trivial. Iron Dome is a welcome tool. But allowing Jews to be turned into ducks in a shooting gallery until Hamas improves its aim is not a strategy.
Comparative casualties, whether civilian or military, tell us absolutely nothing about moral culpability.
War is not some kind of perverse boxing match where one can only strike one’s opponent as often as he strikes you. When war is justified, the goal is to win, and a war of self-defense is always justified.
Germany and Japan’s civilian casualties dwarfed those of the Allies in World War II, as Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu frequently notes. Did that make Germany and Japan right, despite being the aggressors? By focusing on Palestinian casualties as the crucial metric, President Obama and his secretary of state are doing nothing but paving the way for the next round of war and yet more Palestinian casualties.
Instead of moving to deny Israel victory and the opportunity to uproot the terrorist infrastructure, they should be figuring out how to secure a peace that removes Hamas’s attack tunnels and rockets once and for all – something a little more effective, if you please, than UN Security Council Resolution 1701 ending the Second Lebanon War, which did nothing to prevent Hezbollah from doubling its prewar missile arsenal.
In the meantime, Israel should heed the advice of Powerline blogger Scott Johnson and “pay zero attention to world opinion when world opinion is certifiably insane.”
The writer is director of Jewish Media Resources, has written a regular column in The Jerusalem Post Magazine since 1997, and is the author of eight biographies of modern Jewish leaders.