Hamas and the Killing of Innocents
Why should Hamas care if its irredentist terrorism kills or causes Israel to kill innocent civilians?
If one looks at the existential Palestine—Israel struggle as Hamas looks at it, it is obvious that Hamas is winning. Not only did it prevail in the Gaza elections, but it watches with glee as the Russians, the Swedes, the Norwegians, and former U.S. Presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton advise the rest of the world to feed and clothe the Palestinians and to be nice to Hamas, which, like Iran, wants to eradicate the 'Zionist entity.'
As Hamas sees things, Israel is on the political, military, and PR defensive. The mighty Israel Army has not defeated Hamas. It has not deterred Hamas. It has not intimidated Hamas. It has not frightened Hamas. And despite targeted assassinations and artillery barrages, Israel hasn't prevented Hamas from lobbing rockets and missiles into Israel almost daily.
It's only a matter of luck and time before Hamas weaponry hits strategic targets like the Ashkelon power station, which generates 25 percent of Israel's electricity, or the petroleum pipelines that link Ashkelon to Eilat and Haifa, or Ashkelon's reverse osmosis plant, which produces up to 15 percent of Israel's water.
Israel has a stated policy of doing everything possible to limit Palestinian civilian casualties. But the trouble with that policy is that it provides no incentive to non—terrorist Palestinians to stop tolerating Hamas or other terrorist groups. The non—terrorist Palestinians, the Israeli Arabs who are pro—Palestinian the Arabs in the wider Middle East, the Iranians and the other non—Arab Muslims, those Americans and Europeans who hide their anti—Semitism behind anti—Israelism do not hate the Jewish state less because it has allowed its fear of causing Palestinian casualties to cloud both its military judgment and the proven principles of psychological warfare.
If it is true that in war there is no substitute for victory, it is truer that victory comes only when the victor breaks the will of the vanquished. One vanquishes an enemy not by winning his heart and mind, but by crushing him militarily.
In the months prior to the end of the Second World War, the United States and Britain launched massive aerial bombings — sometimes they sent a thousand bombers at a time — over German cities, and America dropped atomic bombs over two Japanese cities. Neither President Delano Roosevelt, Prime Minister Winston S. Churchill, nor the American and British people fretted over enemy civilian casualties. On the contrary, they were absolutely convinced that such casualties would make the Germans and the Japanese surrender more quickly.
Israel need not use carpet bombing to prevail. It can use less Draconian measures, such as destroying terrorists' homes after each and every terrorist act, and ending all economic ties with the Palestinians. It is absurd that the Israelis hire Palestinians for day labor in their country. It is equally absurd that they supply electricity every day to people who pray, wish, and work for their destruction.
'By wide margins,'reported a 2003 Pew Research Center poll, 'Muslim populations doubt that a way can be found for the state of Israel to exist so that the rights and needs of the Palestinian people are met. Eight—in—ten residents of the Palestinian Authority express this opinion.'
Hamas has no qualms about killing innocent Israelis — that's what Arab terrorists are supposed to do — and then waiting for Israel's inevitable response. When that response results in the unavoidable death of innocents, not only is Hamas delighted, but there are the inevitable anti—Israel letters to foreign newspapers, such as this one in The Oregonian of March 9, 2006:
'Does the World War II atrocity [of the Holocaust] give the Jewish state the right to murder an 8—year—old [Palestinian] boy?'
The only way for the Israelis to end the Palestine—Israel conflict, and also to end the deaths of innocent civilians on both sides, is to employ effective force.
They must kill the terrorists in their very beds. And if f their beds happen to be next to the beds of Palestinian civilians, that is sad. But the deaths of innocents is the price the Palestinians decided to pay when they vote for Hamas and tolerate its terrorist and rejectionist agenda. Israel has nothing to apologize for if the Arabs deny the truth that every action has a consequence.
After a successful commando raid in Beirut in the spring of 1973, during which a seventy—year—old Italian woman was unfortunately killed, the then Chief of Staff, Lieutenant General David Elazar, said:
'Israel won't play by the rules of partial war; wars are not won with a strong defense.'
If despite General Elazar's dictum, contemporary Israelis keep playing by the rules of partial war, and refuse to fight their enemies by the rules of the region in which they live, both the conflict and the innocent civilian casualties will continue until the end of time.
Edward Bernard Glick is a professor emeritus of political science at Temple University in Philadelphia and a fellow of the Inter—University Seminar on Armed Forces and Society