Friday, January 02, 2009

The Gaza Rules

Historian Victor Davis Hanson writes about them. I intersperse a few comments in italics - - -

The Israelis just struck back hard at Hamas in Gaza. In response, the United Nations, the European Union and the Arab world (at least publicly) expressed their anger at the killing of over 300 Palestinians, most of whom were terrorists and Hamas officials. [ “terrorists and Hamas officials.” Is there a difference?]

For several prior weeks, Hamas terrorists had been daily launching rockets into Israeli towns that border Gaza. The recent volleys of missiles had insidiously become more frequent -- up to 80 a day -- and the payloads larger. Iranian-backed Hezbollah terrorists were reportedly supplying their own training and expertise.

These terrorists point to the Lebanon war of 2006 as the proper template for provoking an Israeli counter-response that will bog down the Israeli Defense Forces in the streets of urban Gaza and ensure that Palestinian civilians are harmed on global television. [ Hamas' deliberate pursuit of a policy that ensures "Palestinian civilians are harmed" has been ignored or underreported by major news orgs I’ve been reading and watching – mainly the BBC, AFP, AP, CNN and Reuters. One exception – Fox News.]

Watching both this week's war and the world's predictable reaction to it, we can recall the Gaza rules. Most are reflections of our postmodern age, and completely at odds with the past protocols of war.

First is the now-familiar Middle East doctrine of proportionality. Legitimate military action is strangely defined by the relative strength of the combatants.

World opinion more vehemently condemns Israel's countermeasures, apparently because its rockets are far more accurate and deadly than previous Hamas barrages that are poorly targeted and thus not so lethal. [“World opinion” has so far failed to explain what's a "proportionate" response to an enemy whose principle tactic involves the carefully planned targeting of your children in schools, civilians riding public buses, etc.] …

Second, intent in this war no longer matters. Every Hamas unguided rocket is launched in hopes of hitting an Israeli home and killing men, women and children. Every guided Israeli air-launched missile is targeted at Hamas operatives, who deliberately work in the closest vicinity to women and children.

Killing Palestinian civilians is incidental to Israeli military operations and proves counterproductive to its objectives. Blowing up Israeli non-combatants is the aim of Hamas' barrages: the more children, aged and women who die, the more it expects political concessions from Tel Aviv. ...

The rest of Hanson’s essay’s here. I hope you give it a read if you’ve not done so already.

Hat tip:


Anonymous said...

Hanson is correct on his assessment. There has always been one set of rules by which civilized societies conduct their affairs and another by which terrorist (anarchist, freedom fighters, etc.) operate. If, as Hamas and its supporters want, they should be allowed to bomb civilian targets unfettered but that there should be no retaliation, then society as we know it will not exist for much longer. One can see the results of terror rules in Zimbabwe and the Sudan - frankly, I do not think that that is what any thinking person really desires.

Anonymous said...

For Hamas, every dead Israeli civilian is a good thing, and every dead civilian in Gaza is even better. That's their tactic and world simply falls for it. One has to wonder if american journalists were every taught to question?

Anonymous said...

I believe that it is (unfortunately) part of the American psyche to feel that every "freedom fighter", as Hamas likes to characterize itself, is worthy of respect and of a voice because, after all, the patriots who secured our liberty were the eighteenth century variation of the terrorist mindset. The difference, besides one of the weaponry available, is that the American rabble rousers were initially not concerned with forming their own nation (at least not until they were convinced that George III and the Parliament would not grant them the representation that they asked to vote on their own taxation) and the measure of armaments available to them (as well as a world press ready and able to trumpet their grievances) was slight. One could also make the point that the Americans grievance was never with the English people but with the government of the king. However, those points are not communicated in the history classes taught in the United States (if taught at all). Instead, what is taught is that all groups' grievances have equal weight and that if measures must be undertaken to achieve one's objective, then so be it. Thus, the Israelis are the villains and Hamas as the good guys even though Hamas daily lobs mortars into Israel with no concern about innocent people (to Hamas there is no such thing as an innocent Israeli). At the same time Hamas imbeds its miliatry hardware within its civilian population insuring that any Israeli retaliation will result in "innocent people" being killed - all for ready distribution for the 24/7 media.