An Israeli soldier sits next to tanks at a staging area near the border with the Gaza Strip.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Now that the cease-fire seems to be holding, the international community is doing everything in its power to make sure that once Hamas regroups and rearms, it will once again attack Israel with better rockets, deeper tunnels and more effective use of human shields.
Hamas will once again deploy its “dead baby strategy” – placing its rocket launchers and tunnel entrances in densely populated areas so that Israel will have to kill civilians in order to attack these military targets. It will reprise this strategy because it always works. It works because Hamas makes it easy for the media to show the dead civilians but difficult to show the rockets and tunnels behind and beneath these civilian human shields.
The result of this one-sided, emotional display of dead bodies is outrage against Israel for “causing” so many civilians deaths, and demands for international investigations and prosecutions of Israeli officials and soldiers.
Israel wins the war on the ground, while Hamas wins the war of international public opinion. Hamas then regroups and rearms, while Israel suffers permanent reputational damage for doing what every democracy would do – and doing it better. So why shouldn’t Hamas repeat its winning tactic over and over again? One answer might be that Hamas knows that if it once again fires rockets and builds tunnels in densely populated areas, more civilians will die, more buildings will be destroyed and more misery will be spread among the people of Gaza. But not only don’t the leaders of Hamas worry about these tragic results, they welcome them. The more dead civilians, the better for implementing their public relations strategy. It worked before and it will work again.
The Goldstone Report, which blamed Israel for the civilian casualties of Operation Cast Lead in 2008- 2009, begat the rocket and tunnel attacks that led Israel to conduct Operation Protective Edge. Now Hamas is seeking a sequel to Goldstone – this time conducted by an anti-Israel zealot, who has already convicted Israel and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu of war crimes, before seeing any of the evidence. Sequels beget sequels, and it is entirely predictable that Hamas will win this post-war battle of words and condemnation and that it will try to reprise its victory by once again deploying its reliable dead baby strategy – perhaps in a year, or maybe two, but it will happen.
The only way to end this recurrent war, with far too many casualties, is to expose and condemn Hamas’s dead baby strategy and to recognize it for the despicable double war crime that it clearly is. Blaming Israel only gives Hamas an incentive to fight, pause, fight, pause and fight again.
So here is the 12-step program that guarantees a repeat of Hamas’s attacks against Israel from behind Palestinian human shields, many of whom will die:
1. Blame Israel, rather than Hamas for the dead babies.
2. Accuse Israel of committing war crimes.
3. Have the United Nations manufacture evidence and draw mendacious conclusions against Israel.
4. Call for divestment, boycotts and sanctions against Israel.
5. Demand that the United States cut off aid to Israel.
6. Have “academics” offer opinions that it is lawful for people under occupation to resist by firing rockets from civilian areas at civilian targets and by digging tunnels whose entrances and exits are in civilian areas.
7. Have Holocaust survivors and their children place ads in newspapers comparing what Israel does in self-defense to the Nazi genocide of Jews, without even mentioning the threat to Israel posed by the rockets and tunnels.
8. Uncritically accept at face value the Hamas-approved statistics regarding alleged civilian deaths among Palestinian civilians, despite Hamas’s long history of doctoring these numbers.
9. Focus on the comparative number of Palestinian and Israeli deaths, without explaining that it is part of the Hamas strategy to increase the number of Palestinian deaths, by using civilians as human shields and reserving the shelters only for terrorists.
10. Have Nobel Peace Prize winners such as Jimmy Carter and Desmond Tutu condemn Israel for using “disproportionate force.”
11. Have the International Criminal Court open an investigation against Israel.
12. Treat democratic Israel as morally comparable – or worse – to terrorist Hamas.
Here is the two-step program for reducing the likelihood that Hamas will again fire rockets and employ terrorist tunnels against Israeli civilians from Palestinian civilian areas: 1. Condemn Hamas for starting the war, for firing at civilians from civilian areas, and for deliberately trying to increase the number of civilian deaths by reserving its shelters for terrorists and not for civilians.
2. Disarm Hamas and don’t allow it to rearm.
The problem is that the international community seems to be following the 12-step rather than the twostep program. So, unless things change, stay tuned for a replay of the current tragedy.
Alan M. Dershowitz’s latest book is Taking the Stand: My Life in the Law.