As I pointed out on November 23, 2012, “Hamas hides among unwitting civilians, who have no way of controlling its activities. This fact does not give Israel the right to kill innocent non-combatants, not even unintentionally. Besides, murder is not ‘unintentional’ when you know it is inevitable.”
Still, from the fact that the Palestinian side sustains more casualties—it does not necessarily follow that they are the innocent party in the dispute. It’s not Israel’s fault, moreover, that its population is well-protected by rocket-repelling technology, mandatory bomb shelters and that Israelis benefit from an all-round, well-organized emergency response. Who among us would tolerate living with a constant barrage of bombs from our neighbors? If Gaza, which was ceded by Israel to the dogs of war (Hamas), has nothing by way of safety infrastructure, it is because its leaders invest in terrorism instead of in trade.
Ultimately, and as National Post’s Lorne Gunter astutely observed many years ago, “If Palestinians stopped their attacks today, tomorrow there would be no Israeli attacks.” But if Israel stopped unilaterally, Palestinians would be at it again in no time.
The latest developments, via DEBKAfile: “Israel air, sea and artillery pounded the Gaza Strip Thursday night, July 17, as IDF ground forces embarked on a ground attack, just announced by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. Debkafile reports a softening-up operation to prepare for the entry of armored and infantry units. The IDF calls on the half million Gazans of southern towns of Khan Younes and Rafah to leave their homes for their own safety. Israelis living close to the Gaza border were advised to stay in bomb shelters.”
By the Telegraph’s telling, “Israel’s leaders are grimly aware of the risks they are taking by sending troops to fight in the crowded alleys of Gaza. Now that their forces are embroiled in this urban maze, they will lose much of their technological advantage against Hamas gunmen. One Israeli soldier was duly killed within hours of the invasion starting.”
Yet Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, believes that a ground operation is the only way to stop the rocket attacks. Meanwhile, Mr Masri made clear that the Hamas viewed it as a chance to inflict casualties on its enemy. “The Zionist army is very surprised by what the resistance possesses,” he said. “The resistance attacked tanks and Humvees with missiles and went behind enemy lines to conduct intelligence operations.”
But Israel is now fighting Hamas by land, sea and air. Two jet fighters soared overhead like silver arrowheads yesterday, scattering decoy flares across a cloudless summer sky.
Sa’ar Class missile boats from the Israeli navy have grown bold enough to pound their targets from close to the shore, although Hamas struck back with a missile that fell just short of its target, sending up a plume of white water.
Israeli commanders are trying to strangle Hamas from all directions. But the only certainty is that Gaza’s hospitals become more crowded by the day.
I tend to agree with Hamas that “Israel’s ground offensive is ‘foolish’ and will have ‘dreadful consequences.’” Since the Hamasniks consider their population no more than props in a public relation’s war, Palestinian casualties affect them not at all.