National Post Barbara Kay: Israelis hold their fire as long as they can. Hamas writes cheques after mass suicides


National Post - Friday May 18th, 2018

There’s an old French proverb which, translated, reads: “This animal is very bad; when you attack it, it defends itself.” There is only one “animal” — politically speaking — that inspires this curious strain of logic, but it does so over and over again. Israel. Alone of the nations, Israel draws condemnation for doing what every other nation in the world does, or would do, if its borders were assaulted by a wave of hate-fuelled “protesters” intent on mayhem.

In his response to the Gaza situation, Justin Trudeau focused critically on Israel’s use of “excessive force and live ammunition” as “inexcusable” and called for an independent investigation. Conservative Ontario Senator Linda Frum fired back on Twitter: “Trudeau calls Israel’s effort to protect 1948 internationally recognized border against armed incursion ‘appalling.’ True friends of Israel knew it was only a matter of time. First opportunity in office to defend Israel’s right to self defence & our PM condemns Israel not Hamas.”

Frum is absolutely justified in her contemptuous tone. Our prime minister seems to think that the Gazan “protesters” at the border are a happy-clappy gang of Woodstock-type peaceniks. In fact, as we know from numerous Arabic Facebook pages, interviews and photos, this long-planned guerrilla-style campaign — conceived as bloody political theatre rather than an actual war with any hope of territorial victory — has been orchestrated with a view to maximum violence through the use of knives, guns, grenades and firebombs.

Optics play a huge role in any asymmetric war Israel is involved in. The media tend to favour the “underdog,” and seize on every incident that casts Israel in an inhumane light. In one story about the death of a baby, allegedly at IDF hands, an image in the news showed a group of Palestinian women comforting a mother holding her shrouded infant. The message conveyed was that of a heartless machine that kills indiscriminately. A closer look at the story reveals that it was a combination of tear gas and a pre-existing heart condition that killed the baby, with no direct intention on the part of the IDF. Rather than reflexive condemnation of Israel, the takeaway from the story should be: who brings an infant to a battle site? Children are purposefully being used as human shields. This is a tactic routinely deployed by Hamas, but rarely called out for the despicable war crime it is.

Israel’s critics point to the mounting death toll of Gazans with indignation, failing to distinguish between actual civilians and Hamas terror foot soldiers. But even Hamas has stated that the overwhelming majority of fatalities were their own fighters. Israel is killing mostly bad actors, and even then, relatively few in number. No army in the world can do better than “mostly.” No other army in the world would act as prudently as the IDF. The IDF uses rubber bullets when it can, but they only work at short range. They are using tear gas when they can, but that’s no good when it’s windy. They have senior commanders stationed at every confrontation point. Every single hit is reportedly documented and investigated in Excel spreadsheets. The collateral damage of actual non-combatants is around 20 deaths or fewer. It doesn’t get more humane than that in war.

Some critics ask why they don’t just “arrest” the invaders. That’s not feasible. If soldiers came near the crowds, they would be swarmed and a bloodbath could ensue. They use live ammunition as a last resort, but use it they must, for they cannot allow hundreds or thousands of Gazans to infiltrate their territory and imperil adjoining Israeli communities.

Moreover, coming into close contact would provide opportunity for one of Hamas’s favourite and most pernicious strategies, one they hope to employ: kidnapping one or more Israelis to extract the enormous ransoms they know from experience Israel will pay, knowing the devastating impact this strategy imposes on Israelis’ national morale. By contrast, Hamas is willing to sacrifice Gazan lives — in fact Hamas offers payment to the families of those injured or killed on the front lines — because their consuming hatred of Jews obliterates even the rudiments of human decency in their treatment of their own brothers and sisters.

Forgotten in the fog of war is that Israel withdrew from Gaza militarily in 2005, expelling its own citizens, and turning over every inch of Gaza to the Palestinians. Israel hoped Gaza would succeed. Gaza was supposed to be a role model for how a two-state solution might work in peace. What happened? Instead of infrastructure, they built terror tunnels.

Don’t cry for Gaza. Gaza is a failed state and a failed society, marinated in hatred rather than aspiration. They have brought this catastrophe on themselves.

National Post
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Twitter.com/BarbaraRKay