Small Steps to Aid Civilians while Fighting Hamas

The people of Israel are selfish. They want to live. They also want their nation to survive. Hamas, the government of Gaza, their neighbor, denies the right of Israel to exist. Hamas vows to liberate Palestine from the river to the sea, which leaves no room for the Jewish state. To achieve this objective, Hamas strives to murder the people of Israel, most commonly, by continually shooting rockets into Israeli homes without warning. In response, the international community generally shrugs. To the disappointment of Hamas, only a few Israelis are killed by rockets because the Israeli government has selfishly built air raid shelters beneath most buildings to protect the lives of its citizens. Occasionally, Israel responds to Hamas rocket barrages with airstrikes against military targets in Gaza. Despite the best efforts of Israeli pilots to minimize civilian casualties, some are unavoidable as Hamas hides its people and weapons among civilians. The international community accuses Israel of using disproportionate force as Israeli airstrikes kill more civilians in Gaza than are killed in Israel by Hamas rockets.

On Oct. 7, 2023, Hamas launched a massive, murderous surprise attack on peaceful Israeli civilians across the Gaza border. About 1,400 people were massacred and about 200 were taken hostage. Following this devastating assault, Israel’s goal is to defeat Hamas. Israel is fortunate to have been advised by several distinguished individuals from other countries how not to achieve this goal. Above all, Israel, the defender, is advised not to violate the laws of war, even though, Hamas, the aggressor, always violates these laws. For that reason, Israel cannot dismantle Hamas by strictly following every law of war. Of course, Israel will make every effort to minimize civilian casualties.

In addition to continuing their airstrikes against military targets in Gaza and threatening to launch a ground invasion, Israel can take the following three small actions which might spare the lives of some Gaza civilians.

  1. Hamas has constructed an extensive network of underground tunnels through which fighters and weapons are moved and stored. But they have neglected to build any air raid shelters to protect Gaza civilians from Israeli airstrikes. During World War II, British civilians in London and Russian civilians in Moscow found refuge from German bombs inside the subway systems of their respective cities. Why doesn’t Israel publicly broadcast to civilians in Gaza the message that they should demand that Hamas allow them to find shelter inside the Gaza tunnels during Israeli airstrikes?
  2. On Oct. 21, 2023, the first convoy of 20 trucks carrying aid entered Gaza through the Rafah Crossing at Gaza’s southern border with Egypt. Israel wants to be involved in inspecting the shipments for weapons, Why doesn’t Israel insist that the aid trucks should not return empty? Instead, they should return filled with weapons surrendered by Hamas.
  3. The Erez Crossing, in the north of Gaza, is the only crossing point for people and goods coming from Israel into Gaza. Prior to the attack by Hamas, several thousand Gazans passed through this border crossing daily to work in Israel or the West Bank. Despite Israel’s warning to move south, many civilians remain stranded in northern Gaza. To provide these civilians with humanitarian aid, why doesn’t Israel open the Erez Crossing to delivery trucks? Of course, Israel would have to shield the aid truck routes from airstrikes.
About the Author
Ted Sheskin is a professor emeritus of industrial engineering at Cleveland State University, and the author of a textbook, Markov Chains and Decision Processes for Engineers and Managers. He has published peer-reviewed papers on engineering systems and mathematical algorithms. His letters to editors addressing politics, economic policy, and issues facing Israel and American Jews have appeared in the NY Times, Daily News, Cleveland Plain Dealer, Cleveland Jewish News, Jewish Week, the Forward, and Jewish Voice.
Related Topics
Related Posts