The author of this article supports and loves Israel, but when a country I care about follows a course of action that is not only futile, but deadly and counterproductive, there should be a moment of pause for even the most ardent supporters of this war in Gaza.
If the conventional rationale behind the bombing of civilian regions is to prevent rocket attacks, it isn’t working and actually hurting Israel in many ways. Furthermore, not only will Hamas survive the recent conflict as it did with previous interventions (and build more tunnels while purchasing more rockets), but Israel is already negotiating with Hamas and the U.S. and other countries have already condemned the loss of civilian life.
While it is typical for European nations to condemn IDF operations, even the U.S. State Department called the recent bombing of a U.N. school “disgraceful.” This might not worry some people, but the U.S. gives Israel $3.1 billion annually, including a Congressional vote for $225 million to fund the Iron Dome.
If aerial bombardment of Gaza is said to be a military necessity, it isn’t working. According to the Jerusalem Post on August 9, after a month of bombardment resulting in the death of over 400 children and 1,939 Palestinians, rockets continue to be fired from Gaza:
Although Gazans fired almost 100 rockets and shells over the weekend, it was below the average of the initial 29 days of Operation Protective Edge before the cease-fire, which saw more than 100 rockets launched each day.
The air force hit some 120 targets in Gaza over the weekend, including two terrorists riding a motorcycle in central Gaza, the IDF Spokesman said.
First, “below the average” doesn’t sound like a ringing endorsement for a military operation that kills civilians on a daily basis and doesn’t stop rocket attacks. Second, those two terrorists riding motorcycles most likely rode past other human beings, who could have easily been injured or killed in an airstrike. This reality is never explained in a sentence that explains two terrorists were killed on motorcycles. Third, if “Gazans” is the new word for “Hamas,” then I guess anything goes in the bombardment of Gaza. The reality is that IDF attacks on Gaza, as stated by every Israeli representative on television, are to kill terrorists or those responsible for endangering lives in Israel. Furthermore, it’s the terrorists launching rockets, not the average Palestinian child or old lady, and this reality is lost in the moral fog surrounding the war. With all the cheerleading regarding this recent war, civilian deaths were deemed as a sad but necessary reality of neutralizing rocket attacks. Well, it has not neutralized rocket attacks since 100 were just launched over the weekend and all the innocent Palestinians (yes, the vast majority are not Hamas) have died because of flawed logic and a military operation that doesn’t eliminate rocket attacks.
Even if some Palestinians who’ve died have ties to Hamas, let’s look at the recent BBC report about potentially inflated numbers:
Its recent report said that as of 6 August, 1,843 Palestinians had been killed and 66 Israelis and one Thai national since Israel launched Operation Protective Edge on 8 July.
Of those Palestinians, the status of 279 could not be identified, at least 1,354 were civilians, including 415 children and 214 women, the UN body reported.
Thus, the “at least 1,354 were civilians, including 415 children and 214 women” aren’t disputed by anyone. If you think that civilian numbers are inflated for Hamas propaganda, then fine, try to justify the deaths of 1,345 civilians that also include 415 children and 214 women. Of course, don’t forget that this is based on August 6 death toll numbers; it’s now over four days away from these figures and even more Palestinians have already died. With each civilian death, Hamas wins the media war while gaining more recruits (you would join too if your family were wiped out in an air raid) and Israel loses support from both allies and traditional detractors.
Nobody is arguing that Hamas isn’t cruel and suicidal, this is true, but one can’t always design foreign and domestic policies based upon the psychological makeup of an insane enemy. Doing so only causes the country defending itself to act just as cruelly, and a recent USA Today article titled, Gaza conflict hits children especially hard highlights the human toll of consistent aerial bombardment:
The children are full of questions that no one can answer — mainly, what’s next?
“Our house was attacked — where am I going to sleep now? We have no home,” said Yasmin, 6, in Gaza City, whose last name was withheld to protect her privacy. “I miss my bed and decorated room, I wish it was still there and our home was not targeted.”
Some 40,000 homes have been damaged or destroyed during the month-long conflict with Israel that has displaced nearly half a million Palestinians and killed nearly 1,900 — more than 400 of them children, according to Gaza’s Public Works Ministry and Health Ministry.
…”We estimate that there are at least 373,000 children who need psycho-social support at the moment … either because they have experienced the death or injury of their parents or of family members, or because they have lost their homes — and of course the trauma of moving away from your home,” said Joseph Aguettant, country representative for Palestine with the Swiss foundation Terre des hommes, which runs projects to fight child labor and provides support services to kids.
Children are showing symptoms of distress — clinging to their parents, suffering from sleeping and eating disorders, nightmares and nervousness, as well as feelings of guilt and anger — all compounded by the “realization that there is no guaranteed safe space in Gaza,” according to the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
Parents say the sound of explosions and shelling have left their children shaking in fear.
“My children would shiver and run towards me and their mom and cry most of the time when they heard a loud of explosion,” said Motasem Ghattas, 33, from the heavily bombed Shijaiyah neighborhood in Gaza. “Our children were subjected to horrendous fear, the sound of bombs negatively affecting their nerves. It breaks my heart when they jump and scream.”
If you read these experiences and statistics regarding the plight of children in Gaza and simply say, “It’s all Hamas’s fault,” you’re choosing to ignore that it’s not Hamas reigning down missiles from jets, it is Israel. What many who fervently support this war fail to realize is that a great democracy has the choice not to bomb civilians, even if crazy terrorists hide rockets in civilian locations and especially since rocket attacks continue. The fact that Hamas simply reloads emphasizes the futility in such bombing raids. If Jews were in Gaza and Palestinians were bombing it to the point that Jewish children were experiencing lasting emotional and psychological trauma, Jews around the world would call for an immediate end to such military operations. Also, do you think those 373,000 children won’t gravitate towards Hamas after experience such trauma from air raids?
One can’t simultaneously claim that the collateral damage of deliberately bombing and targeting civilian centers is warranted militarily when rockets continue to be launched from Gaza by the hundreds. If Israel is intent upon defending from rockets, more Iron Domes, the destruction of tunnels, and other means of combating Hamas should be used rather than intentionally targeting areas where children and women will die. Rockets are still being launched even though the human toll is horrendous in Gaza. Finally, it is completely irrelevant if Assad kills more Muslims, or if the U.S. engages in questionable tactics, or if Putin does his own unique, immoral brand of diplomacy. Israel should never compare itself to anyone else, and should remember that if the tables were turned, the Jewish communities around the world would view Palestinian jets bombing a crowded Jewish territory as inhumane and cruel.
Rockets will continue to be fired, even if Israel blows up more of Gaza, and nothing but a long term peace through tough negotiations and concessions will defeat Hamas.