Gaza and War Crimes

Eliott Engel
The Wall Street Journal and the New York Times have seen a slew of op-eds covering the legitimacy of the Israeli offensive since it began. On January 10th, a WSJ article entitled Israel Is Committing War Crimes was a riposte to a very well crafted article in the WSJ two days prior by Benjamin Netanyahu. The former Israeli prime minister justified the use of force on the Gazans by listing their collective, complicit offenses.

In Israel Is Committing War Crimes, Mr. Bisharat makes his case for the illegitimacy of Israel's action by describing the situation that led to the conflict.

Israel had not suffered an "armed attack" immediately prior to its bombardment of the Gaza Strip. Since firing the first Kassam rocket into Israel in 2002, Hamas and other Palestinian groups have loosed thousands of rockets and mortar shells into Israel, causing about two dozen Israeli deaths and widespread fear. As indiscriminate attacks on civilians, these were war crimes. During roughly the same period, Israeli forces killed about 2,700 Palestinians in Gaza by targeted killings, aerial bombings, in raids, etc., according to the Israeli human rights group B'Tselem.

This is a specious comparison. The approximate 2,700 Palestinains killed (apples) by Israelis is an inclusive figure; the 24 Israelis (oranges) is a figure the terrorists in Gaza caused by rocket fire only. Where are the numbers which tell of the dozens of suicide bombings launched from Gaza during the same time period, or the bulldozer incident, or the school-shooting incident, etcetera? The B'Tselem website reports that 136 Israelis have been killed in Gaza by Palestinians since September of 2000. Another interesting note by B'Tselem is that 459 Palestinians in Gaza have been killed by other Palestinians.

Mr. Bisharat continues, enumerating Israel's one-sided aggression.

Israel then broke the truce on Nov. 4, raiding the Gaza Strip and killing a Palestinian. Hamas retaliated with rocket fire; Israel then killed five more Palestinians. In the following days, Hamas continued rocket fire -- yet still no Israelis died (my emphasis). Israel cannot claim self-defense against this escalation, because it was provoked by Israel's own violation.

This illogic would have a person who randomly shoots a gun into a crowd-but does not hit anyone-lack liability. Why have typical rules of engagement become irrelevant? Do Israelis have to be killed en masse before they can consider retaliation? 

Israel's American-made F-16s and Apache helicopters have destroyed mosques, the education and justice ministries, a university, prisons, courts and police stations. These institutions were part of Gaza's civilian infrastructure. And when nonmilitary institutions are targeted, civilians die. Many killed in the last week were young police recruits with no military roles....Deliberate attacks on civilians that lack strict military necessity are war crimes. Israel's current violations of international law extend a long pattern of abuse of the rights of Gaza Palestinians.

I wonder when a mosque is not a mosque anymore. Would all the ammunition have to be cleaned before it enters? Would the rockets have to all face towards Mecca? What about the schools and hospitals that the Islamists relish using because of the conundrum in which it places their conscientious foes. If Israel, as a people, as a nation, cannot defend themselves, we as a human species have learned very little in the last century. The world cannot openly invite events that will lead to the destruction of the most persecuted race/people/religion in the history of the world. Disallowing the Israelis to defend themselves, either through UN compulsion or political pressure outside the UN, is the invitation the anti-Jews have desired for millennia.

Eliott Engel is a real estate analyst in Phoenix. He is Vice President of American Initiative, a nascent online journal dedicated to fostering civic responsibility in Americans.
The Wall Street Journal and the New York Times have seen a slew of op-eds covering the legitimacy of the Israeli offensive since it began. On January 10th, a WSJ article entitled Israel Is Committing War Crimes was a riposte to a very well crafted article in the WSJ two days prior by Benjamin Netanyahu. The former Israeli prime minister justified the use of force on the Gazans by listing their collective, complicit offenses.

In Israel Is Committing War Crimes, Mr. Bisharat makes his case for the illegitimacy of Israel's action by describing the situation that led to the conflict.

Israel had not suffered an "armed attack" immediately prior to its bombardment of the Gaza Strip. Since firing the first Kassam rocket into Israel in 2002, Hamas and other Palestinian groups have loosed thousands of rockets and mortar shells into Israel, causing about two dozen Israeli deaths and widespread fear. As indiscriminate attacks on civilians, these were war crimes. During roughly the same period, Israeli forces killed about 2,700 Palestinians in Gaza by targeted killings, aerial bombings, in raids, etc., according to the Israeli human rights group B'Tselem.

This is a specious comparison. The approximate 2,700 Palestinains killed (apples) by Israelis is an inclusive figure; the 24 Israelis (oranges) is a figure the terrorists in Gaza caused by rocket fire only. Where are the numbers which tell of the dozens of suicide bombings launched from Gaza during the same time period, or the bulldozer incident, or the school-shooting incident, etcetera? The B'Tselem website reports that 136 Israelis have been killed in Gaza by Palestinians since September of 2000. Another interesting note by B'Tselem is that 459 Palestinians in Gaza have been killed by other Palestinians.

Mr. Bisharat continues, enumerating Israel's one-sided aggression.

Israel then broke the truce on Nov. 4, raiding the Gaza Strip and killing a Palestinian. Hamas retaliated with rocket fire; Israel then killed five more Palestinians. In the following days, Hamas continued rocket fire -- yet still no Israelis died (my emphasis). Israel cannot claim self-defense against this escalation, because it was provoked by Israel's own violation.

This illogic would have a person who randomly shoots a gun into a crowd-but does not hit anyone-lack liability. Why have typical rules of engagement become irrelevant? Do Israelis have to be killed en masse before they can consider retaliation? 

Israel's American-made F-16s and Apache helicopters have destroyed mosques, the education and justice ministries, a university, prisons, courts and police stations. These institutions were part of Gaza's civilian infrastructure. And when nonmilitary institutions are targeted, civilians die. Many killed in the last week were young police recruits with no military roles....Deliberate attacks on civilians that lack strict military necessity are war crimes. Israel's current violations of international law extend a long pattern of abuse of the rights of Gaza Palestinians.

I wonder when a mosque is not a mosque anymore. Would all the ammunition have to be cleaned before it enters? Would the rockets have to all face towards Mecca? What about the schools and hospitals that the Islamists relish using because of the conundrum in which it places their conscientious foes. If Israel, as a people, as a nation, cannot defend themselves, we as a human species have learned very little in the last century. The world cannot openly invite events that will lead to the destruction of the most persecuted race/people/religion in the history of the world. Disallowing the Israelis to defend themselves, either through UN compulsion or political pressure outside the UN, is the invitation the anti-Jews have desired for millennia.

Eliott Engel is a real estate analyst in Phoenix. He is Vice President of American Initiative, a nascent online journal dedicated to fostering civic responsibility in Americans.