The war of the children

Golda Meir’s famous observation about the relationship between those who seek peace and love their own children is obviously not on the radar at the New York Times. Although the recent Times report mentioned in passing that “fears about starting the school year on Monday without a cease fire” had hastened its acceptance by Israel, the reporter, Jerusalem Bureau Chief Jodi Rudoren, went on to report extensively about the “victory” celebrations in Gaza. As to this, she conspicuously failed to mention that those festivities included children marching dressed in Hamas military fatigues, holding junior automatic weapons.

Last week the Times also virtually ignored, except for one sentence in an article about Israeli air strikes in Gaza, the story of Daniel Tragerman z”l, the four-year-old boy from Kibbutz Nahal Oz killed by Hamas mortar fire while playing in his home. To anyone paying attention to the Israeli media, this was an emotionally powerful event, and a tipping point, for he became everyone’s child. After his funeral, there was a mass evacuation of children from the kibbutzim on the Gaza border, and the popularity of Prime Minister Netanyahu plummeted in the polls. Any thoughts of a renewed ground invasion of Gaza quickly evaporated, and the pending cease fire became a reality.

It just proves that the Times wouldn’t know the story if it hit them in the masthead. Can you imagine Hamas, which uses children to dig bunkers and schools as places to store weapons and fire rockets, acting from the same concern about starting the school year, or worrying about advancing their children’s education in any subject except, perhaps, maintaining their kiddie Kalashnikovs? Instead of removing their children from harm’s way, Hamas actually ordered families not to evacuate specific buildings, for reasons that are now obvious.

The story of this war is all about Israel’s love for its children and the cynical exploitation of that by Hamas, and the lack of any parallel concern by Hamas for their own children. How could you have missed this, Ms. Rudoren?

The start of the war can be traced to the heinous abduction and murder of three Israeli teenagers on their way home from school. As Israeli security forces hunted for the victims and the perpetrators, the leaders of Hamas not only feigned ignorance and lied to the Palestinian Authority to hinder the investigation, but took to the world’s airwaves and accused Israel of staging the kidnaping of its own children as a pretext for arresting Hamas members in the West Bank. It then started lobbing mortars and missiles at Israel from Gaza in “retaliation”. It was a blood libel, of course, that was exposed weeks later when a high level Hamas official, speaking from the bosom of Hamas’ patrons in Turkey, took responsibility for planning the incident.

While Israel still mourns the three teenagers, and it is too soon for legends, centuries from now they may be remembered as having saved the nation. For when Israel attempted to suppress the fire from Gaza there came the realization that Hamas was on the verge of an attack of catastrophic proportions. The ideological heirs of those who massacred 25 school children in Ma’alot and arranged attacks on families and children at the Park Hotel and the Sbarro Pizzeria, had diverted the funds and building supplies meant to build schools in Gaza to the construction of tunnels under kindergartens in Israel. They used the labor of their own children to dig these tunnels, and then equipped them with railroad tracks and anesthesia in order to kidnap entire classrooms of Israeli school children and spirit them across the border, hoping to bring Israel to its knees.

It was the discovery of the tunnels that resulted in the limited ground action during which Hamas fired from behind its children to try and prevent the IDF from destroying the sick infrastructure that Hamas had designed to murder Israel’s children. Hamas failed, but not without exacting a heavy price in terms of casualties to IDF soldiers barely out of high school and reservists who are the parents of young children, whose lives and proper education are the reason for their sacrifice.

While it will probably continue to go unreported and un-analyzed by the arrogantly self-styled “Newspaper of Record”, the story of Operation Protective Edge is framed by Israel’s love of its children, particularly of three martyred teenagers and a murdered four-year-old boy. And the importance of starting the school year on time.


About the Author
Bennett M. Epstein is a criminal lawyer in New York