Charles Krauthammer, in today’s column, responds to those who see Israel as being at fault for bullying the Palestinians once again. His essay begins:
Some geopolitical conflicts are morally complicated. The Israel-Gaza war is not. It possesses a moral clarity not only rare but excruciating.
Israel is so scrupulous about civilian life that, risking the element of surprise, it contacts enemy noncombatants in advance to warn them of approaching danger. Hamas, which started this conflict with unrelenting rocket and mortar attacks on unarmed Israelis — 6,464 launched from Gaza in the past three years — deliberately places its weapons in and near the homes of its own people.
This has two purposes. First, counting on the moral scrupulousness of Israel, Hamas figures civilian proximity might help protect at least part of its arsenal. Second, knowing that Israelis have new precision weapons that may allow them to attack nonetheless, Hamas hopes that inevitable collateral damage — or, if it is really fortunate, an errant Israeli bomb — will kill large numbers of its own people for which, of course, the world will blame Israel.
For Hamas, the only thing more prized than dead Jews are dead Palestinians. The religion of Jew-murder and self-martyrdom is ubiquitous.
Krauthammer reminds us that besides the asymmetry of means — Hamas is committed to “the most civilian pain and suffering on both sides”, while Israel tries to save as many lives as it can, giving advance warning when sites are about to be attacked, and using precision ordnance that can destroy a house while leaving its next-door neighbors unscathed — there is also an asymmetry of ends:
Israel has but a single objective in Gaza — peace: the calm, open, normal relations it offered Gaza when it withdrew in 2005. Doing something never done by the Turkish, British, Egyptian and Jordanian rulers of Palestine, the Israelis gave the Palestinians their first sovereign territory ever in Gaza.
What ensued? This is not ancient history. Did the Palestinians begin building the state that is supposedly their great national aim? No. No roads, no industry, no courts, no civil society at all. The flourishing greenhouses that Israel left behind for the Palestinians were destroyed and abandoned. Instead, Gaza’s Iranian-sponsored rulers have devoted all their resources to turning it into a terror base — importing weapons, training terrorists, building tunnels with which to kidnap Israelis on the other side. And of course firing rockets unceasingly.
The grievance? It cannot be occupation, military control or settlers. They were all removed in September 2005. There’s only one grievance and Hamas is open about it. Israel’s very existence.
Read the rest of the piece here.
Meanwhile, YNetNews.com reports that the Hamas leader Nizar Rayyan refused to evacuate his own wife and children when the IDF warned that his house, which was also an arsenal and concealed the mouth of a tunnel, was about to be attacked. These collateral deaths will of course be used to blacken Israel’s name. We read:
The air strike killed Nizar Rayyan along with nine other people, including his wife and three children, Hamas said. Another 25 people were wounded. Security sources told Ynet that the house was also used as an arms cache, a communications headquarters and concealed a tunnel’s opening.
Israeli military sources confirmed that Rayyan, who was considered the Hamas leadership’s liaison with the group’s military wing, was killed in an attack on his north Gaza home.
Prior to striking Rayyan’s house the IDF tried to warn his family about the imminent attack and urged them to evacuate the place, but they refused to do so.
It does seem, though, that this time around even some of their fellow Arabs have had it with Hamas. This may be due mostly to Sunni/Shi’a animosity, but it is welcome nevertheless.