In The Interest of Hamas

I find any thoughtful discussion of the effects of the long running Israel-Palestinian conflict on Palestinian civilians to be worthwhile. So, as war rages in the Gaza Strip and as Israel pushes closer to Gaza City, an article in today’s Washington PostGaza War Generates Debate on Civilians caught my eye.

The Israeli military blames Hamas for using Gazans as human shields and for retreating to densely populated areas to fight the war. But Palestinians and human rights groups say that Israel has been reckless and that in pursuing Hamas, it has employed tactics that unnecessarily drive up the civilian toll.

A group of Israeli human rights organizations on Wednesday said Israel’s behavior in Gaza represents “blatant violation of the laws of warfare and raises the suspicion, which we ask be investigated, of the commission of war crimes.” Israel said it was doing everything it could to prevent civilian casualties. “We are taking many precautions, including dropping leaflets,” said Maj. Avital Leibovich, an Israel Defense Forces spokeswoman. “Our pilots do U-turns when they see civilians near their targets.”

and later

The Geneva Conventions, an international agreement on a code of war, say civilians must be permitted to escape from fighting, but “the Gazans are not allowed to flee,” Myers said. “That’s a big problem.” None of the border crossings is open. And no part of the strip — which is about 25 miles long and five miles wide — has been insulated from the fighting.

and still later

Israel says Hamas cares little for the well-being of its people. It puts children on the roofs of buildings that it knows are targets, and it prevents civilians from fleeing dangerous areas, the IDF says. It also booby-traps schools and attempts to draw Israeli forces into urban warfare that the group knows will result in high civilian body counts.

I have written before that I place the blame for civilian casualties squarely on Hamas. If none of the border crossings are open because Hamas has sent thousands of missiles toward Israeli cities since coming to power a year and a half ago, who, ultimately, is responsible? As with the war against Hezbollah, it appears that Israel is more interested in destroying buildings with her bombs than killing people. I say this because, in actuality, the mortality in both conflicts does not seem great compared to the number of bombs dropped.

As I came to the end of the Post article, I came to this

The goal of targeting such a broad array of facilities, Israeli military officials say, is to break Hamas’s will to continue firing rockets, not just its means. Israeli officials say they ultimately hope that Gazans become disgusted with Hamas and drive the group from power.

But Bassam Eid, executive director of the Palestinian Human Rights Monitoring Group, doubts that can work. Whether or not Hamas is intentionally raising the Palestinian death toll to elicit sympathy, he said, the killing of so many civilians has helped the group’s standing among Palestinians and across the Arab world.

“It’s not in the interest of the Israelis. It’s not in the interest of Palestinian society,” Eid said. “But it’s in the interest of Hamas.”

My long-standing belief – that Hamas wants, above all else, to kill Israelis and that a consolation for Hamas is the death of Palestinians – is confirmed. How dysfunctional must be the Middle East and the Arab world for that last statement to be true?

the killing of so many civilians … is not in the interest of the Israelis … is not in the interest of Palestinian[s] … but … is in the interest of Hamas

It seems that, for as long as this statement is true, peace cannot come to Gaza and the Palestinians. Hamas would have no incentives to find a peace and, in fact, is disincented. If conditions cannot be changed so that Palestinian civilian deaths are no longer in the interest of Hamas, then Hamas must be vitiated. And until that time, I will hold Hamas responsible for civilian deaths for the simple reason that, according to the Palestinian Human Rights Monitoring Group, such deaths are in Hamas’ interest.

In The Interest of Palestinians?

In The Interest of Palestinians?

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