If you care about Israel, if you care about the moral integrity of Western society, share this as broadly as you can. Doing this is more important now than ever.
Following the heinous October 7th attack by Hamas on innocent civilians in Israel’s south – an attack that included beheadings, burning of people alive, rape, kidnapping of children, and more – Israel declared war on Hamas with intention of totally destroying it.
In a world in which moral values had been sustained, and people were capable of differentiating between good and evil, there would have been a broad understanding of the righteousness of Israel’s goal. But, tragically, this is not the case.
Many (not all, of course) have lost their moral bearings and, perversely, are pointing their fingers at Israel. This is SO perverse that it is stunning, even as we know we should not be surprised.
As accusations against Israel routinely – and erroneously – include charges that we are not complying with international rules of war, and are committing war crimes, I want to look at this issue first.
Perhaps the most important subject to consider is the concept of “proportionality,” which is distorted on a regular basis.
“Proportionality” does NOT mean that Israel cannot inflict damage in the war beyond what has been inflicted by Hamas. It does NOT mean that if Hamas rockets have only killed three Israelis, Israel may not kill more than three members of Hamas.
A disproportional military action occurs when it causes incidental loss of civilian life excessive in relation to concrete and military advantage.
An example: if the IDF knows that one Hamas commander is hiding in a hospital it may not bomb the hospital to kill him. However, if Hamas commanders use the basement of the hospital as their headquarters for planning massive attacks, then it would be permissible to bomb the hospital.
Hamas routinely uses human shields in an effort to protect itself from attack by Israel. Avi Bell, professor of law at San Diego U and Bar Ilan U, says that international law allows Israel to attack in spite of this, again, as long as the collateral damage is not clearly disproportionate to the military gain.
International law absolutely permits Israel to actively pursue and destroy Hamas. This is an exceedingly legitimate military goal, as it is the stated intention of Hamas to destroy Israel. Israel has the legal authority to attack even if there may be a large number of civilian casualties.
Put simply, if Israel were required to refrain in all cases from causing civilian casualties in a military action, national defense would be impossible. Orde Kittrie, a professor of international law at Arizona State U., says that the law of armed conflict recognizes that civilian deaths are inevitable.
Alan Dershowitz, professor emeritus at Harvard U (from which he now chooses to disassociate himself) says that Israel is permitted to achieve an overwhelming victory because its goals are so important.
I note here that Israel’s war goal (to protect herself) is legitimate, but the war goal of Hamas (to destroy Israel) is not. This point is at the very heart of the issue but is routinely ignored.
Some years ago, Dershowitz advanced the concept of the “continuum of civilianality.” How does one define a “civilian?” he asks. A newborn baby is clearly and absolutely a civilian. But how about a girl who helps Hamas load rockets after school, or the head of a family who permits rockets to be stored in his home? The lines are not nearly as clear as people imagine.
Col. Richard Kemp, who was the Commander of British Forces in Afghanistan, offered this assessment of Israel in 2014 ,when Israel was fighting Hamas. He was on the scene in Gaza at that time:
“Based on my experience and on my observations: the Israel Defense Force, the IDF, does more to safeguard the rights of civilians in a combat zone than any other army in the history of warfare. Why is this so?
“…Firstly, Israel is a decent country with Western values, run on democratic principles. Israel has no more interest in war than Belgium does. In fact, Israel has never started a war. The only reason it ever goes to war is to defend itself…
“Secondly, Judaism, with its unsurpassed moral standards, remains a major influence on the citizens of Israel. I say this as a non-Jew…
“Thirdly, the army is composed overwhelmingly of citizen soldiers. Israel is a small country with a small professional army. To fight a war it depends on its conscripts and its reservists. These are ordinary citizens, from professors to plumbers, called upon to defend their homes…
“The Israelis called Gazans on their cell phones [in 2014] and told them to leave their residences and move to safety. Never in the history of warfare has an army phoned its enemy and told them where they were going to drop their bombs. Many IDF missions that could have taken out Hamas military capabilities were aborted to prevent civilian casualties, increasing the risk to Israeli citizens and soldiers…”
Col. Kemp described what Israel did in Gaza in 2014 because he was a direct witness then. But we are doing the same today, sending multiple messages to the residents of north Gaza advising them to get out of the way.
He has called the IDF the most moral army in the world. Its standard of military conduct (called “purity of arms”) is more stringent than that of either the US or the British army.
Avi Bell says that international law does not require Israel to endanger her own soldiers to prevent civilian damage. But the fact of the matter is that sometimes that is precisely what we do.
The secretary-general of the UN, Antonio Guterres, made a statement to the Security Council on Tuesday that was both shocking and exceedingly offensive (emphasis added):
The massacre of innocent Israelis “did not happen in a vacuum. The Palestinian people have been subjected to 56 years of suffocating occupation. Their hopes for a political solution to their plight have been vanishing.”
Whoa! A justification for what Hamas did. And a justification rife with historical and political inaccuracy.
Taking great offense at the firestorm of criticism that ensued, he attempted to explain that he had indeed criticized Hamas and was not justifying their actions. But let us look further at his statement:
“But the grievances of the Palestinian people cannot justify the appalling attacks by Hamas. And those appalling attacks cannot justify the collective punishment of the Palestinian people.”
Here he is drawing a moral equivalency: Hamas’s attacks and Israel’s attempts to eliminate Hamas.
This is overt criticism of Israel and denial of Israel’s right to self-defense. Israel, which is encouraging the civilian population to move south out of harm’s way, is accused of “collective punishment.”
And what is his solution?
“Even in this moment of grave and immediate danger, we cannot lose sight of the only realistic foundation for a true peace and stability: a two-State solution.”
Heaven help us! He would let Hamas – which has attacked innocents obscenely — stand and maintains that there can be true peace and stability? Beware! This is devious and dangerous in the extreme.
We are going to hear this refrain again and again. I shall be coming back to it.
Biden is singing a similar refrain, with some modifications. Rest assured I will considering his statements in some detail!
I mentioned above Dershowitz’s observation about the difficulty of defining who is a civilian in Gaza. Here is a report that carries this thought to unimagined extremes (emphasis added).
“As Hamas terrorists carried out a highly choreographed massacre in Israel on Oct. 7, they received a source of support that amplified the horror that took place that day. A mob of ordinary Palestinians spontaneously joined in what became the deadliest pogrom against Jews since the Holocaust, according to videos, eyewitness accounts, and the Israel Defense Forces.”
“The IDF declined to provide details about non-Hamas Gazans’s involvement in the Oct. 7 attack. But IDF spokesman Jonathan Conricus confirmed to the Washington Free Beacon that large numbers of Gazans who were not members of any terrorist group entered Israel and participated in the atrocities.
“They did what you say they did,” Conricus said…
“’The second wave of Arabs who came into the country were just as cruel as the terrorists of the first wave,” Gadi Yarkoni, the mayor of the Eshkol Regional Council, which encompasses most of the Gaza border communities, told the Free Beacon. ‘We saw that it was not only Hamas who came to slaughter us. It was all the residents of Gaza, including people who worked in our kibbutzim.’”
With regard to people who worked in the kibbutzim: It was discovered that information had been passed to Hamas by people who worked in the communities – there were names, maps of where the houses were, information on who had dogs, how many rooms were in a house, etc. in the possession of the Hamas terrorists.
The ludicrous notion that the problem was “occupation” is thoroughly refuted by the Hamas Covenant of 1988. From that Covenant:
“The Day of Judgment will not come about until Moslems fight Jews and kill them. Then, the Jews will hide behind rocks and trees, and the rocks and trees will cry out: ‘O Moslem, there is a Jew hiding behind me, come and kill him.’” (Article 7)
“[Peace] initiatives, and so-called peaceful solutions and international conferences are in contradiction to the principles of the Islamic Resistance Movement…
“There is no solution for the Palestinian problem except by Jihad. Initiatives, proposals and international conferences are but a waste of time, an exercise in futility.” (Article 13)
“The HAMAS regards itself the spearhead and the vanguard of the circle of struggle against World Zionism… Islamic groups all over the Arab world should also do the same, since they are best equipped for their future role in the fight against the warmongering Jews.” (Article 32)
“Israel on Tuesday released satellite images depicting what it described as stockpiles of half a million liters of diesel fuel controlled by Hamas as UN agencies claimed that their operations were on the verge of ceasing for lack of power.
“’There’s fuel in Gaza to run hospitals and pump water,’ Israel Defense Forces (IDF) spokesperson Lt. Col. (res.) Jonathan Conricus posted on X/Twitter. ‘But Hamas prefers to use the fuel to continue fighting Israel. All those who claim otherwise are whitewashing Hamas crimes against their own.’”
“In recent days, soldiers and officers of Unit 504 in the Intelligence Division appealed to the residents of the northern Gaza Strip to evacuate to the south for their safety, ahead of the IDF invasion. However, according to an IDF report, Hamas is insisting on retaining the civilian residents of the northern Gaza Strip as a human shield and preventing them from escaping to the south, with checkpoints manned by armed terrorists.”
A recording with transcript of a conversation between a resident of Gaza and an officer of Unit 504 here. The resident reports that Hamas was shooting at people who want to go south. Hamas loses their value as human shields if they do that.
More, lots more to come.
I close with a request for your prayers, for Israel – for our victory, the safety of our boys, the strength and wisdom of those leading us.
Here is Shai Abramson, former Chief Cantor of the IDF, in a prayer for the soldiers of the IDF:
© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by independent journalist Arlene Kushner. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution.