While it's a safe bet that few Hamas members know the lyrics to "the Star Spangled Banner", very little separates their activities from those witnessed by Francis Scott Key centuries ago. In what has become a hallmark of guerilla war, Hamas has used a mixture of low-tech weapons and simple tactics to stymie a technologically superior enemy.
On January 3rd, Israel launched a ground invasion of the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip, partly in response to rocket fire that hit deeper into Israel than ever before. During the Israeli occupation of Gaza, Hamas rocket fire consisted primarily of homemade rockets only capable of hitting the southern-most Israelis cities. After taking over the Gaza Strip in 2006, Hamas acquired the new rockets with the expanded range. However, the increased range doesn't imply advanced technology.
"'It's the "rocket's red glare' rockets that we used at the battle of Fort McHenry in 1812,
said John Pike, director of globalsecurity.org. "It's a solid fuel and an oxidizer, hot stuff comes out the back end, and there's an explosive on the pointy end. It's pretty simple."
According to Pike, rocket technology is no different from any other ballistic technology, be it catapult, trebuchet or a thrown rock. Unlike, a missile, which changes direction as it flies, rockets are at the whim of gravity after launch.
The older rockets used by Hamas, the Qassam, were homemade projectiles assembled from whatever was handy. These rockets were more psychologically damaging than physically, and failed to produce significant casualties.
Recently, Hamas imported factory manufactured rockets from China and Iran. Based on a family of Soviet rockets dating back to World War II, these rockets have the range to hit many more Israeli cities, and their introduction help precipitate the current conflict.
The Iranian rocket, called a Grad, has a range of about 12 miles, long enough to hit the Israeli cities of Ashkelon and Sderot. The Chinese rocket, called the WS-1-E (and sold on a rather cheap looking Web site for a defense company) has an even greater range of up to 27 miles, and better accuracy than the Grad. And according to Amanda Castle, the public relations manager at Jane's Information Group, Israeli intelligence agencies also believe Hamas possesses Iranian Fajr-4 rockets, which have a range long enough to hit Tel Aviv.
Initially, the Israelis looked for a high-tech protection against these low-tech rockets. The first choice in defense would have been the CRAM (counter rocket and mortar) system used by the US Army in Iraq. Basically a giant machine gun directed by radar, the CRAM shoots projectiles out of the sky before they hit their target. Bullets used to shoot down the projectile keep going, however, and according to Pike were nixed for fear of them landing where people live.
Israel also hired Northrop-Grumman to develop a laser to zap the rockets before they could explode. Initial tests succeeded, but the developers soon realized that the laser didn't work in hazy or dusty conditions. Considering Israel is in a desert, they don't have much use for a laser that doesn't work well when it's dusty out.
Now that the high-tech solutions have failed, Israel has countered with the lowest technology in the history of war: boots on the ground.
I thought the CRAM was the way to go,as it's ammo was designed to explode near the target,killing it with shrapnel.What I read said the shrapnel was unlikely to cause damage falling from the sky.Also,the shells were designed to explode whether they came near the target or not.Besides,the gun would mostly be firing in the enemy's direction.The system the CRAM is based on is the ship based Phalanx,which fires tungsten or depleted uranium slugs.
I didn't know about the laser not working in dusty/hazy conditions,although that makes sense.Maybe if it was mounted in a C-130 on high altitude patrol?
Clearly it's not the low-tech rockets that "stymies" Israel; it's the political situation, aggravated by the fact that Hamas launches rockets from civilian areas. It would be a simple matter for the IDF to destroy the rocket launchers--as they did in southern Lebanon when the sites were not in civilian areas.
Hamas' intent is not to wage an all-out war which they would easily lose, but to needle the Israeli's into responding, then exploit the humanitarian crisis to turn world opinion against Israel and force a political solution, which always seems to favor the terrorists.
As laurenra7 succinctly puts it,Hamas has shown mastery in garnering uncritical world sympathy to its cause.However,this article in this publication is for exploring the technical side of things.My comment was simply addressing this aspect of it. Having a means of blunting rocket attacks,although admittedly not an answer to the "big picture" problem,at least offers a respite for long suffering Jewish border settlements.Such a defense might also,in concert with the military reaction from Israel, put pressure on Hamas to consider a ceasefire sooner than it otherwise might have.
While a long-term diplomatic solution is the way to go, tech should have been a good middle way between that and boots on the ground.
While lasers might be obscured by dust or haze, Israel does have a significant number of clear days where the weapon would have been effective. Hammas would have been forced to shoot only in bad weather, which would offer a great tactical advantage to the IDF. As has already been pointed out, a Phalanx-type defense would have been justified, particularly if the rounds were designed to self-destruct after missing the target, lessening collateral damage.
Another way would be to use artificial intelligence and a "staring" type of aerial reconnaissance to identify launchers being set up and fired, and red flagging these for operators to destroy with a nearby UCAV on station overhead.
Would the game change much if guided, longer-range versions of the rockets were to be used? I guess the difficulty of spotting the launchers, especially if they were fired underground through small openings, and the prospect of better technology being used against them led the Isrealis to conclude that invading was the only option.
This a link to an excellent article in Aviation Week on the sophisticated use of air assets by the Israelis and also explains their inability to locate and stop 100% of the attacks.
This gives quite an understanding on the decision to invade, despite the numerous successes so far.
I wonder if mating Metal Storm ( see: http://blog.wired.com/defense/2007/08/video-fix-milli.html ) with the Phalanx gun carriage would make a more effective weapon,especially if the projectiles were proximity fused. I don't see the Israeli government springing for lasers and a gun system,when the latter would be effective in all weather conditions.
I find this interesting but knew it from before. They cant do any damage with these small rockets and not much else anyway seeing as how the whole country is a wreck.
Israel has, for as long as they have been there, controlled that entire area. They control what goes in and what comes out. They have one of the most advanced armies in the world and they cant keep tabs on what goes on, on the Gaza strip? Honestly, as the news reports show, they were planning this from months before. Hamas, Israel, all of them, know that Hamas isnt going to put a dent in anything. Its actually pretty irrational and in the end Israel actually ends up the hero with all the support. Why? Because they so graciously decide to stop starving the people for a day or two. Honestly, with all the tech, they could storm in at night and take care of all the Hamas militants. Thats the simple truth. They have the tech. But why take the easy way and actually protect your people when you can take revenge? wWhy not up the ratio? 700 dead Palestinians to 10 Israelis anyone? Kind inst it? Seems to be common among the..."superpowers".
Humanitarian crisis? Yeah, for the past 50 years. And you cry that its a gimmick? It may be a support for other agendas but that doesn't justify its existence or the argument that its nothing to worry about. Sympathy? Ha...the UN reps the world. But then, the world doesnt really matter does it? The sympathy comes from those who know what it feels like. Total poverty and death at every second. Israel controls everything. EVERYTHING. Playing god. You know...before the Allies put Israel there, there were no problems between those people. They have their arguments but happened to the separation of church and state? The people there would have coexisted with anyone there. What the Germans did was horrible. Why didnt they give the Israelis a hunk of Germany? Makes you wonder doesnt it?
Sorry, the URL was somehow truncated. Here it is in full:
They could use some high altitude airships to watch for the rockets and then use a laser to shoot down the rockets or since they are small and not very destructive maybe just predict where it's going to land and issue a warning.
I believe that I speak for the majority of the PopSci readership when I regard your political comment as most unwelcome in this forum.
This is not a discussion on whether you support Israel or Hamas but rather on potential technological solutions for protecting civilian population (on the Israeli side) from mortar and rocket attack launched from Gaza.
Now whether you support the Israeli response or not, I do hope that you realize that the civilian population in Israel deserves protection from rocket attack. This article is meant to explore technical possibilities for protecting civilians from mortar attack. Please reserve your political commentary to relevant forums.
Just the other day I was thinking what kind of technical solutions might be available to stop rockets like the ones described. Israel needs an energy dome or wall that rockets would hit and explode on contact. Shooting rockets down seems to have many complications. Science has a ways to advance before the "dome" defense is possible. Plus the energy needed would be incredible. Nevertheless, advances can be made. It might happen.
Thank you dear Pinkberry my righteous friend. You're right. I should have been talking about solutions.
Solution one: to decrease poverty and the need for these low tech, low damage munitions they should stop playing god and lift the embargo.
Solution two: Hamas should be reminded that what they are doing is both pointless and doing nothing good for the country.
Solution three: Germany should agree to allocating a plot of land the size of Israel to the Israelis.
Solution four: Vouch for an arms reduction of Israels Arsenal. They currently own one of the largest nuclear stock piles in the world.
Solution five: Send massive amount of humanitarian aid into Gaza to care for all the orphaned and or mangled children left for dead by Israeli troops.
Solution six: Build Schools to educate the Gaza children about the world and diplomatic means of contributing to society.
Solution seven: Stop the media from brainwashing people into thinking there are heroes in that area of the world.
Solution eight: Stop Israel from teaching their kids to be totalitarian, militaristic people.
Solution nine: Reduce anger by allocating land back to the Palestinians.
Solution ten: Ask for solutions. I agree that Israel deserves to defend itself - if the enemy wasnt a defenseless group of people living in slums and ghettos just barely hanging on to life.
Nearly 800 people in Palestine have died and maybe 10 in Israel with most of them being soldiers - 4 of which died because of sheer stupidity? You cant justify that. Dont kid yourself. If the Israelis had gone in and just stopped the rockets they would have been right. Burning children in their beds...is not right.
Please do not presume to speak for me. Ever.
This is a forum, and everyone should be able to comment freely. It does not matter if you agree with the poster's viewpoint. Their right to voice an opinion is equal to yours.
Technology has frequently laid to major changes in the political balance.
In the 17th and 18th century the availability of easy to use gun powder has laid to major political upheavals. Several revolutions have kicked-out aristocracy and allowed democracy to prevail. This has resulted in massive re-distributions of wealth.
We are now seeing a similar phenomena on a global scale. We have a global aristocracy and technology evolution is making it unstable. Technology, as for instance atomic or biological weapons, will force a new order - a global democracy.
Super-powers, such as the US and Israel, are trying to crush opposition with ruthless massacres, as the old aristocracies tried to crush early revolutions. They are, in fact, hastening the introduction of new deadlier technologies.
Technology is dictating the evolution of global societies. It is painful but unavoidable.
On the technology discussion, your laser solution is still years from perfection: First, you have to be able to precisely target the incoming round; Then, you have to hold the beam on a single spot on the target long enough for it to heat up and explode the warhead, presuming we are still in the 21st century and don't have anything powerful enough to blast right through it on contact; Finally, the time of flight is typically measured in tens of seconds, not minutes, so not very much time to do steps one and two.
The Phalanx solution, by the way, which works just as well in dust storms as in the clear, does NOT rain bullets down on the populace, nor does it kill the rocket with scrapnel, Newbeak5. It's a piercing round, and the ones that don't hit something in the air do self destruct harmlessly in the air before they can land anywhere. The only danger is from the incoming round if it isn't destroyed in the air; but that's no worse than the original threat, and it just might be shot down over the shooter's space or at least in an open neutral area. What's more, even if it only destroys one out of ten, much lower than reality, that's one rocket that won't hurt anyone.
While I do have the right to voice my opinion and know what I said needed to be said somewhere - I do apologize for distracting from the tech talk. I use Popsci regularly and therefore should have known better.
It was still hilariously amusing to slap Pinkberry in the face, though.
Alright Im done.
Tech-wise: What does Phalanx do? And wouldnt the best way to destroy incoming projectiles be to use something that is more energy than projectile? I dont think they can totally avoid something hitting the ground honestly.
I understand that this site is for tech and science; but to imagine that those aspects are hermetically sealed and that they exist in a different universe from the "facts on the ground" is to deny that we are flesh and blood creatures that share a common biology and a common biosphere and a common global civilization.
The rockets this article describes are weapons of terror that understandably frighten the hundreds of thousands (millions?) of Israelis in range.....though, realistically, they do relatively little damage when compared to the ferocity of the current attacks on the people of Gaza.
Israel is playing into the hands of the most radical elements of Hamas and Hamas is playing into the most radical elements of Israel.
Those who desire war and death so that they may benefit politically and economically (in the case of the MI complex) are engaged in a mutually beneficial orgy of perverse motivations. The blood spilled, lives lost and lives destroyed mean nothing to the people at the "top" on both sides.
I love and enjoy science and technology; it has the very real potential to transform human life so that there may be no disease, no poverty and global ecological balance.
We can become a race of very long lived beings who could actually reach the stars; but at this rate we are on a trajectory towards a well deserved extinction.
We shall either evolve as a global peaceful culture, or we will kill each other using the latest "technology" to the point of extinction. The status quo is not indefinitely sustainable.
We need to advance the political sciences and the other so called "soft" sciences to keep pace with our capacity to kill each other using both primitive and "advanced" technologies.
I have been a PopSci fan for some time, but never had a reason to comment until now. Unintended, what you say is simply wrong. Israel is trying to kill as little civilians as possible, if only to gain international support. Hamas, on the other hand, is firing hundreds of rockets daily at civilian targets, and using the entire Gaza population as one big human shield. While Israel may not be doing things perfectly, you have to remember that half the country has been under rocket fire for eight years, and that being nice and giving back Gaza just put more of Israel under fire.
A quote from the NYT, not known to be pro-Israel:
"Hamas, with training from Iran and Hezbollah, has used the last two years to turn Gaza into a deadly maze of tunnels, booby traps and sophisticated roadside bombs. Weapons are hidden in mosques, schoolyards and civilian houses, and the leadership’s war room is a bunker beneath Gaza’s largest hospital, Israeli intelligence officials say.
Unwilling to take Israel’s bait and come into the open, Hamas militants are fighting in civilian clothes; even the police have been ordered to take off their uniforms. The militants emerge from tunnels to shoot automatic weapons or antitank missiles, then disappear back inside, hoping to lure the Israeli soldiers with their fire."
But so as not to disturb the tech talk, I'll also quote the parts of the article dealing with Israel's brand new, if not so deadly, weapons:
"A new Israeli weapon, meanwhile, is tailored to the Hamas tactic of asking civilians to stand on the roofs of buildings so Israeli pilots will not bomb. The Israelis are countering with a missile designed, paradoxically, not to explode. They aim the missiles at empty areas of the roofs to frighten residents into leaving the buildings, a tactic called “a knock on the roof.”"
"The Israelis say they are also using new weapons, like a small-diameter smart bomb, the GBU-39, which Israel bought last fall from Washington. The bomb, which is very accurate, has a small explosive, as little as 60 to 80 pounds, to minimize collateral damage in an urban area. But it can also penetrate the earth to hit bunkers or tunnels."
Remember, the problem is that Israel is mainly targeting explosives, so no matter how small the initial explosion from the bomb is, it will cause a secondary explosion that can still injure or even kill innocent bystanders. Any ideas for how Israel can minimize civilian causalities in Gaza?
goisrael, several of your comments indicate that you are victim of the Israeli propaganda.
"Israel is trying to kill as little civilians as possible"
Actually, Israel is using phosphorous bombs. See:
Rights group: Israel uses incendiary bombs in Gaza:
These bombs are designed to maximize human damage. When the US used incendiary bombs on Vietnamese villages, it resulted in the picture of the running burned girl that caused an outcry that made the US citizens realize that they were criminals burning children.
In Gaza, more than a quarter of the causalities have been children. In the second world war, even the worse of Nazi bombings did not have this rate of children casualties. At least the Nazis did not aim at schools.
In Gaza, two UN schools have been deliberately bombed. The Israeli army stated that there was a gunman there, which was denied by the UN personnel. Is Israel using their marvellous advanced US technology to aim precisely at school children?
Nothing, absolutely nothing, justifies the slaughtering of children.
I have used this site for upwards of two years and have not once found it necessary to comment on an article. The fact that the poster above me could bring himself to claim (and honestly believes) that the Nazis were kinder to civilian populations than Israel pains me greatly. Eric Martin, it seems your ignorance of world history is matched only by your hatred for Israel.
I agree that nothing justifies the slaughtering of children, but, in reality, that is not what we are talking about. While Nazis and Hamas militants both desire the slaughter (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/slaughter) of their enemies, the Israeli government merely is unwilling to halt vital defensive operations because of collateral damage. If they did that, Hamas and their human-shield policy would win.
From your argument, I deduce that you find any collateral damage perpetuated by Israel to be unacceptable, and that is your opinion; next time you feel the urge to share your opinions, say that instead of the blatant lies you elected.
The day the rockets stop, international sentiment will turn drastically if Israel continues their blockade and military operations inside Gaza. Until that time, their right to defend themselves supersedes all other considerations.
For the past eight years, Hamas has been firing rockets at civilian targets in Israel. Israel is trying to stop that. What would Israel gain by killing civilians?
The Nazi death camp systematically killed six million jews. The Israeli offensive has killed less than a thousand, most of them terrorists. And the civilian deaths are the fault of Hamas and Hamas alone for using human shields. The Hamas HQ is under the biggest hospital in Gaza, and their rockets are hidden in the basements of crowded apartment buildings. They do this for two reasons:
1) They hope Israel will not strike for fear of killing innocents,
2) If Israel does strike, they take pictures and show the world what "Israel" has done.
Hamas itself has a name for this. They call it "the CNN strategy" (this is not to criticize CNN or any other objective news source for doing its job; it is to criticize Hamas for exploiting the freedom of press which it forbids in Gaza). The CNN strategy is working because decent people all over the world are naturally sickened by images of dead and injured children. When they see such images repeatedly flashed across TV screens, they tend to react emotionally. Rather than asking why these children are dying and who is to blame for putting them in harm's way, average viewers, regardless of their political or ideological perspective, want to see the killing stopped. They blame those whose weapons directly caused the deaths, rather than those who provoked the violence by deliberately targeting civilians.
They forget the usual rules of morality and law. For example, when a murderer takes a hostage and fires from behind his human shield, and a policeman, in an effort to stop the shooting accidentally kills the hostage, the law of every country holds the hostage taker guilty of murder even though the policeman fired the fatal shot.
The same is true of the law of war. The use of human shields, in the way Hamas uses the civilian population of Gaza, is a war crime -- as is its firing of rockets at Israeli civilians. Every human shield that is killed by Israeli self-defence measures is the sole responsibility of Hamas.
The day before the recent outbreak, Hamas fired an anti-personnel rocket at Israeli civilians, but the rocket fell short of its target and killed two Palestinian girls. Yet there was virtually no coverage and absolutely no protests against these "collateral" civilian deaths. This is because Hamas refused to allow TV cameras to show these dead Palestinian children.
The reality is that the elected and de facto government of Gaza has declared war against Israel. Under Article 51 of the United Nations Charter, it has committed an "armed attack" against the Jewish state. The Hamas charter calls for Israel's total destruction. Under international law, Israel is entitled to take whatever military action is necessary to repel that attack and stop the rockets.
It must seek to minimize civilian deaths consistent with the legitimate military goal, and it is doing precisely that, despite Hamas's efforts to maximize civilian deaths on both sides.
Oh, and about the UN schools:
I'm not sure that the rockets are the greatest issue here. First, these rockets are minor threats at least. They do not aim, they cary only minimal loads, and have limited range. Much of what Hamas is doing is like trying to hit the goalpost across a football field with a bottle rocket.
In fact, when Hamas was just shooting off their own homemade rockets, Israel sat back and didn't do much other than watch them waste fuel, exsplosives, and time. It is only with the import of these newer rockets with greater range (to civilized areas that afford much bigger targets) that Israel descided invade.
Considering the limited funding of Hamas, the difficulty in procuring such armaments, and the decreased rate of fire per day, it is obvious that they are working on a very limited and dwindling supply of these superior rockets. Once they run out, the conflict will swiftly end (as Israel loses its main pretext for conflict).
Since that is an inevitability, it seems that the best tech solutions are not for the dwindling rockets in the air, but for better means to keep such arms from being fired in the first place.
While many tunnels to Egypt have been destroyed, it seems anti-tunneling and anti-smuggling technologies would be the ounce of pervention to save a pound of cure.
An improved physical barrier on the boarder, with sub-surface listening posts, and methods of destroying tunnels with more finesse than bombing the area would quickly get Gaza back to the home made rockets that help to bring families together around the dinner table.
Correct me if I'm wrong, but I was under the impression that the Hammas were firing rockets, not missiles. A rocket has no other influence other than gravity after it is launched, making it possible to go to anywhere regardless of where it was originally "aimed." Im not condoning what they are doing, but the way everyone is telling the story, it seems as if everyone believes the Hammas are deliberately guiding the rockets into civilian structures, which would be impossible.
Ha. Wow. Look at all of you. Back and forth, back and forth, I corrected myself, right? Said I should have been talking about solutions. There we go. Apologized to for distracting. Yup. Well. Now I look at you and see something else. You continue to mention the whole human shield thing. Now I dont support what Hamas is doing. I think its stupid. But you, with the media feeding into your arms like an I.V., didnt research one thing. Isreal broke the ceasefire first. Bombing inside of Gaza without warrant. That, therefore, invoked retaliation and a wonderful excuse to start a genocide.
There is a picture I saw recently which showed Israelis tying a boy to the front of a Hummer...And you're whining about human shields?
Anyway, of course exaggerations could be made in any war. But what else can you expect when the Israelis reviews to give the media access to the war-zone. Ha. They can do whatever they want til the concentration camps are found.
The whole conflict is wrong. But disproportional attacks are out of bounds. They have the right to go in and stop them. Thats not what I have a problem with. I have a problem with how they are doing it. When pictures of children shot in the chest come in, what am I supposed to say? Collateral? An aimed shot at the chest? What?
In the face of many `modern myths' currently being propagated,
Here is the truth, based on reports by the UN and other NGOs on the ground, including Israeli human rights groups.
Myth: Israel is a law-abiding nation seeking to live in peace with its neighbors.
The truth: In 1948, shortly after the embryonic UN gave 56% of Palestine to the largely immigrant, minority Jewish population, the Jewish forces drove out most of the indigenous Palestinians and took 78% of the land. They razed to the ground over 400 Palestinian villages, so that the refugees could not return. In 1967 they occupied the rest of Palestine, including Gaza, and began to settle their citizens in these areas, in contravention of the Fourth Geneva Convention. In 2002 they began the construction of the 400-mile long barrier, largely on Palestinian land, using it to take land and water resources from what is left of the West Bank.
The centers of population in the West Bank have been isolated into ghetto-like enclaves, surrounded by the Israeli army and illegal settlements. Many methods are being used to drive Palestinians out of their homes in East Jerusalem, which Israel has annexed, in contravention of international law.
Israel is in violation of over 60 UN Resolutions, which call for the return of refugees, withdrawal of the settlers, dismantling of the wall and a lifting of the siege on Gaza.
Myth: Israel is threatened by its Arab neighbors.
The truth: Egypt and Jordan have diplomatic relations and trade agreements with Israel. Lebanon and Syria do not, as Israel still occupies part of their territory. Nevertheless, on several occasions the Arab League has offered Israel full normalization in return for a viable Palestinian state on the West Bank and Gaza. Israel has refused.
Myth: Israel withdrew its settlers and the army from Gaza in 2005, but the Palestinians rejected this peace offering and simply resorted to more violence.
The truth: Israel did withdraw 8000 settlers from Gaza, after 38 years of occupation - but immediately sent 30,000 more to the illegal settlements in the West Bank (which now has over 450,000 settlers).
At the same time, it placed extremely tight restrictions on all entry points to the Gaza Strip, making it almost impossible for the local economy to function. Over the next two years Israel fired about 16,000 artillery shells into Gaza, killing 120 men, women and children and damaging much of the infrastructure of the towns.
Myth: Israel has for many years suffered terribly from thousands of missiles fired from N Gaza.
The truth: The first homemade Qassam missile was fired across the Israeli border in October 2001; the first fatality occurred in March 2007.
Up to November 2008 13 Israelis were killed by Qassam rockets. By contrast, between September 2000 and the end of November 2008 nearly 5000 Palestinians were killed, more than half of them in Gaza. The rockets have in the last year reached more distant targets, but in military terms they are ineffectual, compared to the fire-power of the US F-16s, Apache helicopter gunships, Merkava tanks and naval gunships with which Israel is equipped.
Hamas say the missiles are in retaliation not only for the many deaths Israel has caused both in Gaza and the West Bank, but also for the continued occupation and expropriation of land (see above). They say they hope to end the occupation in this way, much as Israel was forced to end the occupation of South Lebanon by Hizbollah.
Myth: Hamas broke the recent ceasefire, prompting Israel's bombardment and invasion of Gaza.
The truth: In November 2008, during the six-month ceasefire, the Israeli army killed 14 Palestinians and tightened the siege on Gaza even more. In retaliation, Qassam rockets were fired on the Negev, killing no-one.
Israeli spokesmen have freely admitted that the assaults on Gaza were planned eight months ago - before the ceasefire. They clearly went into the ceasefire agreement without the intention of respecting it.
See this story recently published in Haaretz, Israel's largest newspaper, on how the whole thing was PLANNED
Disinformation, secrecy and lies: How the Gaza offensive came about
By Barak Ravid, Haaretz Correspondent
Myth: Hamas is a terrorist organization bent on Israel's destruction. There is no possibility of Israel negotiating with them.
DISCLAIMER: Hamas is currently listed as an international terrorist organization by the United States State Department.
The truth: Hamas is a nationalist, Islamist organization consisting of a political party, with a military wing, which for years was largely responsible for running hospitals and schools in Gaza, in a situation of military occupation. Even secular Palestinians saw them as efficient and non-corrupt.
When they came to power they offered Israel a ten-year truce, during which time negotiations could take place. Israel rejected this, and continued to quote earlier Hamas manifestos which called for the return of Palestinian land and property.
Myth: Hamas took over Gaza in a coup in June 2007, ousting the rightful government headed by Mahmoud Abbas.
The truth: Hamas won the 2006 general elections, which international observers considered free and fair, and formed a unity government in which MPs from Fatah and other parties were offered ministerial posts. However, in June 2006 Israeli troops abducted dozens of Hamas ministers and parliamentarians and put them in jail, while the US and other western governments joined Israel in refusing to recognize or speak to Hamas.
Israel and the US encouraged Fatah to stage a coup in Gaza, but Hamas pre-empted this in June 2007.
Mahmoud Abbas is the elected President of the Palestinian people, but his party, Fatah, does not have a mandate.
Vanity Fair had an excellent article about this including the US's involvement in overthrowing Hamas: http://www.vanityfair.com/politics/features/2008/04/gaza200804/
Myth: Israel always tries to minimize civilian casualties - it is targeting only Hamas.
The truth: Israel has the most technically advanced weaponry in the world, with the exception of the US. Its computerised drone planes (which it sells to the UK) send back extremely detailed information about every square foot of the Gaza Strip. And yet hundreds of civilians have been killed and wounded, with the one power plant, ambulances, schools and hospitals being hit.
Myth: Any nation faced with missile or bomb attacks would respond with massive fire power.
The truth: For years Britain experienced terrorist attacks by the IRA, with many more fatalities than Israel has suffered. It never resorted to bombing civilian targets and infrastructure, but succeeded through patient negotiation.
Myth: Hamas uses the citizens of Gaza as `human shields'.
The truth: Gaza is one of the most densely populated areas on earth, with 1.5 million inhabitants living in an area about 25 miles long and five miles wide. There are no caves or forests to hide in or operate from - only urban areas.
The IDF, on the other hand, has no problem using PALESTINIANS as human shields! Read this excellent article from B'Tselem, The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories
B'TSelem: 20 July 2006: Israeli Soldiers use civilians as Human Shields in Beit Hanun
Here's a Palestinian kid tied to an Israeli Border Patrol vehicle, and two more stories from The Guardian in the UK
Myth: Israel has the welfare of the people of Gaza at heart.
The truth: Since June 2007 Israel has sealed off the Gaza Strip from the outside world, so that it is almost impossible to get in or out, or to import or export goods. Patients used to be able to leave Gaza to seek medical treatment elsewhere, but in the last year Israel has denied permits to most patients and dozens have died.
Myth: The people of Gaza are not really suffering - this is exaggerated for propaganda purposes.
The truth: John Ging, director of the UN agency for refugees in Gaza, Professor Richard Falk, UN Special Rapporteur for the Occupied Territories and representatives of Oxfam and other international aid organizations reacted angrily to Israel's claims. For years they have been monitoring the situation and calling attention to the desperate and deteriorating plight of the people of Gaza.
Myth: People who criticize Israel are anti-Semitic.
The truth: To be anti-Semitic is to be racist towards Jews. But many Jews, and even Israelis, are highly critical of Israel's policies. The policies of ethnic cleansing and seizure of land are rooted in Zionism, or the belief that Jews have exclusive rights to Palestine. To be anti-Zionist is to oppose this ideology and these policies. But Israel uses the anti-Semitism argument to intimidate people into silence.
Need to know more?
See www.palestinecampaign.org for information, publications, maps, current news and events.
For detailed reports from international and Israeli organisations see:
www.ochaopt.org, www.btselem.org, www.amnesty.org.uk, www.christianaid.org.uk, www.savethechildren.org.uk, www.adalah.org, www.icahd.org
Unintended, the wars you cite were all started by the arab countries surrounding Israel with the stated goal of wiping out every jew in Israel.
And of course the Palestinian death toll is higher, they fire mortars from schools and hide under hospitals. Practically all civilian deaths in Gaza is the sole fault of Hamas.
And while we're playing copy and paste, read this:
1. MYTH: Israel broke the cease-fire with Hamas.
On June 17, 2008, after several months of indirect contacts between Israel and Hamas through Egyptian mediators, Hamas agreed to a cease-fire (tahadiya). Almost immediately afterward, terrorists fired rockets into southern Israel. Despite what it called a "gross violation" of the truce, Israel refrained from military action. In fact, during the six months the arrangement was supposed to be observed, 329 rockets and mortar shells were fired at Israel.
While there were considerably fewer Palestinian assaults after the agreement than before, terror continued. Nevertheless, the IDF did not respond to the provocations. On the contrary, Israel significantly increased the amount of goods delivered to the Gaza Strip.
During this period, Israel also expected to negotiate the release of Gilad Shalit, the Israeli soldier taken hostage by Hamas in June 2006. The group repeatedly increased its demands for the number of prisoners it wanted released in exchange for the lone Israeli captive, but never agreed to grant his freedom.
Violence escalated in early November after the IDF carried out a military operation close to the border security fence on the Gazan side that killed seven Hamas terrorists. Israel acted after discovering that Hamas had dug a tunnel under the fence and planned to abduct more Israeli soldiers. Hamas responded by shelling Israeli towns and has continued the rocket barrage ever since.
When the Hamas-imposed six-month deadline expired in December, Israel hoped an agreement could be reached to extend the cease-fire. Instead, Hamas began firing what would be hundreds of rockets into Israel.
When the bombardment began, it became apparent Hamas had used the lull to upgrade its arsenal with weapons that were too sophisticated to have been designed or built in Gaza. These advanced Qassam and Grad rockets, which have placed 1-in-every-8 Israelis in mortal danger, originated in Iran. They were smuggled into Gaza in pieces, assembled, and fired from launch pads well-hidden and shielded in Palestinian population centers.
Once launched, hundreds of thousands of Israelis have as little as 15 seconds to reach a bunker before a rocket detonates. Hamas has turned all of southern Israel into a place that more resembles a post-apocalyptic world, rather than a modern, civilized society. Imagine never being able to step outside without remaining in sprinting distance of a concrete bunker. Imagine having to dive into the safety of a bunker 30 times a day, every day. Try to imagine the terror of the rocket whistling down, not knowing whether it will land a mile a way, or directly above your head.
Can you imagine the sudden shock when you feel the impact, the relief that overcomes you that you are still alive, and the immediate sorrow and concern that follows when you realize that others like -- your family and friends -- may not have been so lucky this time?
2. MYTH: Israel has responded to Hamas rocket fire with "disproportionate force."
Article 51 of the United Nations Charter reserves to every nation the right to engage in self-defense against armed attacks. As Professor Alan Dershowitz has also noted, "The claim that Israel has violated the principle of proportionality -- by killing more Hamas terrorists than the number of Israeli civilians killed by Hamas rockets -- is absurd. First, there is no legal equivalence between the deliberate killing of innocent civilians and the deliberate killings of Hamas combatants. Under the laws of war, any number of combatants can be killed to prevent the killing of even one innocent civilian. Second, proportionality is not measured by the number of civilians actually killed, but rather by the risk posed. This is illustrated by what happened on Tuesday (December 30, 2008), when a Hamas rocket hit a kindergarten in Beer Sheva, though no students were there at the time. Under international law, Israel is not required to allow Hamas to play Russian roulette with its children's lives."
As the London Times said in response to this charge during Israel's war with Hezbollah, this criticism "is lazy and facile in several ways, especially in implying a moral relativism between the two sides that does not exist. This is not the contest between misguided equals that many in the West seem to see. One is the region's lone democracy, which for much of its existence has faced a very real existential threat and would like, if possible, to live in peace with its neighbors. The other is a terrorist organization, bent on preventing such a future."
Furthermore, Since Hamas' stated objective is the destruction of Israel, isn't the appropriate response the destruction of Hamas? Wouldn't random missile strikes on Palestinian cities be proportionate to Hamas rocket attacks on southern Israel? Can you imagine any of Israel's critics accepting those responses?
When Palestinian terrorists plant bombs at Israeli shopping malls and kill and maims dozens of civilians, would the "proportionate response" be for Israelis to plant bombs in Palestinian malls? No one in Israel believes this would be a legitimate use of force. Thus, Israel is left with the need to take measured action against specific targets in an effort to either deter Palestinian violence or stop it.
What would America do if terrorists fired thousands of rockets targeting U.S. cities? After 9/11, we saw that America took the same type of action as Israel by launching military strikes against the terrorists. U.S. forces used overwhelming force and though they never targeted civilians, some were inadvertently killed. Americans believe in Colin Powell's doctrine, which holds that "America should enter fights with every bit of force available, or not at all."
The United States uses overwhelming force against its enemies, even though the threats are distant and pose no danger to the existence of the nation or the immediate security of its citizens. The threat Israel faces is immediate in time and physical proximity, and poses a direct danger to Israeli citizens. More than 6,000 rockets have now fallen on Israel's cities and now that Hamas has acquired long-range missiles, more than 900,000 civilians are in danger. Still, Israel has not used its full might as the Powell Doctrine dictates. The use of force has been judicious and precise.
Israeli soldiers do not deliberately target noncombatants. The murder of innocents is the goal of the Palestinian terrorists. In fact, what other army drops leaflets to warn people to leave an area they intend to attack even though it gives up the element of surprise and allows the bad guys to hide as well as the innocent to escape?
IDF activities are governed by an overriding policy of restraint and a determination to take all possible measures to prevent harm to innocent civilians.
No innocent Palestinians would be in any danger if the Palestinian Authority took steps to stop terrorism or if the international community, especially the Arab world, had pressured Hamas to stop attacking Israel.
No innocent Palestinians would be in danger if Hamas terrorists did not deliberately hide among them. If the peace-seeking Palestinians prevented the terrorists from living in their midst, Israel would have no reason to come to their neighborhoods.
It is a tragedy whenever innocent lives are lost, and Israelis have consistently expressed their sadness over Arab casualties. By contrast, when innocent Israelis are murdered by terrorists, Hamas holds rallies to celebrate the murders.
3. MYTH: Palestinians in Gaza are innocent victims.
It is tragic that many Palestinians who are not directly involved in terrorism are suffering as a result of the actions of their leaders. While no one wants to see any noncombatants harmed, it is important to acknowledge that all Palestinians in Gaza bear some responsibility for their current predicament. After all, they voted to empower Hamas in an election in which they knew the organization's platform called for the destruction of Israel and the use of terrorism to achieve its aims.
The Palestinians in Gaza have done nothing during the last three years to stop Hamas from launching rockets into Israel. At any time the people could have said, "Enough! We do not support terror." Instead of allowing rocket crews to fire Qassams from their houses, yards, or neighborhoods, the people could have said, "Stop! I will not allow you to make us a target. I will now allow you to use my family as a shield."
For the last three years, the Palestinians of Gaza have said, in effect, "We don't mind if Israelis are murdered by Hamas rockets, but the world should support us."
During World War II, the German people were not spared suffering from the Allied invasion because they were noncombatants or because some could claim they were not Nazis and did not support Hitler. All the German people were held to account for their failure to stop their leaders from carrying out their aggression and genocidal policies.
The Palestinians now are also being held to account. What is different, however, is that unlike the Allies in World War II, Israel is doing everything possible to avoid hurting Palestinian noncombatants despite their culpability. Even now the Palestinians have the power to stop the war by demanding that Hamas cease firing rockets. Alas, they refuse to take the one step within their power to ease their suffering.
4. MYTH: Israel's operation in Gaza will only embitter Palestinians and make them seek revenge rather than peace.
After the Blitz in World War II, the British did not worry whether Germans would hate them for bombing their cities. In fact, unlike Israel, the allies had little concern during the war for inflicting suffering on German civilians. Undoubtedly, many Germans still harbor anger toward the British and other allies for their actions during the war, but this did not prevent Germany from ultimately coming to terms with its neighbors and becoming a peaceful member of the international community.
It is not Israeli actions that provoke Palestinians to choose terror over peace, it is the indoctrination of Hamas, which teaches children from an early age to hate Jews, to seek the destruction of Israel and to glorify martyrdom.
5. MYTH: Israel should negotiate a cease-fire with Hamas.
Hamas does not negotiate with Israel. Hamas denies Israel's right to exist. Hamas refuses to abide by previously signed agreements. Even the recently-expired six-month "cease-fire" between Israel and Hamas had to be slowly and painstakingly negotiated through Egypt because Hamas would not talk to Israel.
Throughout 2008, Israel worked with the United States toward an equitable two-state solution with the Palestinian Authority while Hamas did everything in its power to disrupt and derail the peace process -- firing thousands of rockets into Israeli towns and cities, firing on Israeli soldiers and civilians, and attempting to infiltrate Israel for the purpose of committing suicide bombing attacks. Hamas also continues to hold 22-year-old Gilad Shalit, the Israeli soldier they kidnapped in June 2006.
Hamas made clear that the "cease-fire" was not a prelude to peace. On the contrary, Hamas used the time to build more tunnels to smuggle weapons and supplies from Egypt; to build more rockets and to improve the range and accuracy of its existing arsenal. A new cease-fire before the tunnels and weapons are destroyed or neutralized would simply give Hamas the opportunity to follow the example of Hezbollah and rearm and regroup for a future battle to achieve its goal of Israel's destruction.
6. MYTH: Hamas targets military objectives.
Hamas consistently judges the success of their attacks by the number of Israelis they kill -- men, women, children. Hamas does not even try to attack military targets; their rockets are directed toward towns, cities and farms rather than military bases. The group's rockets land on playgrounds, apartment buildings, public parks, schools and private homes.
Hamas terrorists choose not to expose themselves by firing these weapons from open areas. They construct launch pads in densely populated regions in Gaza, using the local Palestinian population as a shield because they do not care if their fellow Palestinians are killed by their own misfiring rockets (as frequently occurs) or by retaliatory strikes by Israel. The leaders of Hamas, like their ideological soul mates in Hezbollah, actually prefer that Israel hits back because they know that if civilians inadvertently are casualties, the international community will blame the Israelis.
7. MYTH: Hamas fears Israel's military might.
Hamas terrorists believe they are fighting a holy war against infidels and that is why no diplomatic agreement with them is possible. It is their religious conviction that they must create an Islamic state and that there is no place in the Islamic world for a Jewish state (or a Christian one for that matter).
Because of their faith, Hamas foot soldiers believe Allah will welcome them to Paradise if they are killed by Israel in what they see as their defense of Islam. The Hamas terrorists' extremism goes much further. It would be one thing if they were willing to sacrifice their own lives for their beliefs, but they also are prepared to jeopardize the lives of others as well. That is why they have no reticence about using their fellow Palestinians as shields. If Israel is dissuaded from attacking for fear of killing innocents, Hamas can continue to terrorize Israelis with impunity. If Israel does attack, Hamas will use the death of any noncombatants for propaganda purposes and to rally support.
At the first sign of danger, the leaders of Hamas typically run and hide. Their bravery extends to sending young disciples to become martyrs and using the rest of the population to protect themselves.
8. MYTH: At the end of this war, Israel will have to negotiate with Hamas.
Some analysts suggest that Israel cannot destroy Hamas or provoke regime change in Gaza and, therefore, Israelis will have to negotiate in the end with Hamas, making this war a pointless exercise in destruction.
Hamas has not hidden its objective of destroying Israel. It has conducted a three-year terror war since Israel's evacuation of Gaza, which followed the five-year Palestinian Intifada that claimed more than 1,000 Israeli lives. No country would show the degree of restraint that Israel exhibited as its cities were rocketed.
The purpose of the Israeli operation is to reduce the possibility of Hamas threatening Israeli lives to as close to zero as possible. No one should expect that the outcome of the war will be a desire on the part of either side to negotiate with the other. Article 13 of the Hamas covenant makes clear the group's raison d'etre: "There is no solution for the Palestinian question except through Jihad. Initiatives, proposals and international conferences are all a waste of time and vain endeavors" (Article 13).
For Israel, the notion of negotiating with Hamas was best summed up by Golda Meir when she said, "They say we must be dead. And we say we want to be alive. Between life and death, I don't know of a compromise."
9. MYTH: Israel deliberately attacked a UN school.
They say that truth is the first casualty of war and Israel has frequently found this to be the case. Reports of Israeli atrocities in its military operations are often out of context, misleading, half-truths, or outright fabrications. Israel often reinforces negative media reports by reacting in a knee-jerk way to accept blame when asked for a reaction to allegations. The media does not wait to learn the truth because that typically requires careful, dispassionate analysis that does not conform to journalists' need to immediately fill time and space.
The best example of this was the infamous case that occurred during an Israeli anti-terror operation in Gaza in 2000 when a TV broadcast showed a Palestinian father shielding his son from bullets. The child was allegedly killed and Israel was immediately blamed. It took many months, but we now know Israeli troops did not kill Mohammed al-Dura.
Israel faced a similar rush to judgment after reports of an Israeli attack on January 6, 2009 on a UN-run school in Jabalya. The building was not being used as a school at the time but was sheltering Palestinian noncombatants. Initial reports said at least 30 Palestinians were killed and UN officials claimed they had given Israeli forces coordinates of this building and others that they said were not associated with Hamas. The incident was immediately portrayed as a deliberate Israeli attack on innocent people.
The details of what happened are still under investigation, but Israel maintains it was not aware that the building was being used as a shelter and that Israeli forces fired at the building because they were attacked by Hamas terrorists launching mortars from the area. Israel later identified two of the casualties at the site as Imad and Hassan Abu Asker, who served as heads of the Hamas mortar units in Gaza. A witness from Jabalya said that he had seen Abu Asker in the area of the school right before the attack when he answered a call for volunteers to pile sand around the camp "to help protect the resistance fighters." In addition, two residents of the area near the school told the Associated Press they had seen a small group of terrorists firing mortar rounds from a street close to the school. A series of explosions followed, indicating the presence of munitions and explosives in the building, which was not being used as a school at the time.
This is not the first time terrorists have fired mortars from a school in Gaza, nor is it the first time terrorists have exploited UN facilities. UN officials in Gaza, who never condemn Palestinian terror (the UN never passed a resolution condemning Hamas terrorism), have a long record of looking the other way while Hamas carries out its activities. UN officials in Gaza are there to help Palestinians and their bias often clouds their judgment and therefore independent verification is needed before accepting their claims.
We do know that through its use of civilians as shields, Hamas has brought death and destruction to the people of Gaza as well as southern Israel. The loss of life in Jabalya is tragic and would not have happened if Hamas was not rocketing Israel. The rush to blame Israel is also a reminder that first reports out of Gaza cannot be trusted.
10. MYTH: Media coverage of the Gaza war is fair and accurate.
Israel has learned that its enemies will do everything they can to manipulate the media to influence public opinion during conflicts such as the one going on in the Gaza Strip. Israel will be accused of massacres, fabricated casualty figures will be distributed, photographs will be doctored and journalists will be threatened. These and other ploys will be used to create sympathy for the Palestinians and cast aspersions on Israeli forces in the hope of turning world opinion against Israel.
Too often, irresponsible journalists have repeated unverified and often inaccurate information in their haste to be the first to report a story. In an effort to present an evenhanded account, some reporters have the mistaken belief that allowing an Arab spokesperson to lie and then giving an Israeli a chance to respond represents a balanced account. This is like allowing a spokesperson to accuse Israelis of beating their spouses and then inviting an Israeli to deny that they beat their husbands and wives. Israel is always put on the defensive, often through outrageous and false accusations, which are repeated by other media so lies become accepted as truth.
One of the first examples of this in the Gaza war occurred after Israeli forces fired on a UN-run school on January 6, 2009. The press immediately reported that more than 30 Palestinians seeking shelter in the building were killed and the attack was portrayed as a deliberate assault on innocent people. Hours later, Israeli investigators reported that they had fired on the building because they were attacked by Hamas terrorists launching mortars from the area. Witnesses supported the Israeli account, but the initial impression was already created and reinforced by repeated claims by UN officials discounting the Israeli version.
Israel was consistently victimized by Arab propaganda and media irresponsibility during the 2006 Lebanon War. Israel was accused of massacres that never happened. Reuters was duped by doctored photos and had to withdraw them. Other photos, showing Hizballah fighters setting up rockets in civilian neighborhoods were suppressed because they did not conform to Hizballah's propaganda message that Israel was indiscriminately attacking innocent Lebanese.
Hamas has adopted a similar approach. As CNN's Anderson Cooper reported, "Inside Gaza, press controlled by Hamas is heavy-handed. There are few press freedoms inside Gaza and Hamas controls who reports from there and where they can go. While pictures of wounded children being brought to hospitals are clearly encouraged, we rarely see images of Hamas fighters or their rockets being fired into Israel."
Israel naturally wants to shape media coverage as well, but Israelis know the first time they are caught telling the type of lies common to the other side their credibility will be shot. Moreover, while they may want to exert some influence by, for example, limiting reporters' access to troops, the other side still succeeds in making its case. As CNN's Nic Robertson noted in criticizing Israel's decision not to embed reporters during the Gaza operation, "The officials we talk to say it's for security and our safety, but it creates an impression that they don't want the suffering that's happening in the Gaza Strip right now to be witnessed by the world, but it is and right now you could make a real case that the message that's coming out is one that's essentially controlled by people that are perhaps more partisan to the situation inside the Gaza Strip than a lot of international journalists."
Given the history of coverage of the Middle East conflict, it behooves journalists to take great care in how they report stories from both sides of the Gaza battlefront and it will be up to those following the coverage to hold the reporters to the highest journalistic standards.
Even before Israel initiated Operation Cast Lead, many journalists were quick to report whatever they were told by Hamas. When Hamas staged blackouts in Gaza, the media incorrectly reported that Israel was preventing the Gazans from having fuel and electricity. Israel was regularly blamed for a "humanitarian crisis" in Gaza while, at the same time, truckloads of goods were sent in from Israel each day. While Israel's air attacks on Gaza immediately made the front page of newspapers around the world, the rocket barrages on southern Israel, and the impact they have had on the population over the last three years, have rarely been mentioned.
The media often turns conflicts into numbers games, keeping running tallies of casualties. Israel always is accused of disproportion because fewer Israelis typically die in confrontations. Israelis, however, are under no obligation to take greater casualties for the sake of looking better in the media box score. It also should come as no surprise that a regular army that is highly trained and is targeting terrorists will kill more people than the terrorists who are indiscriminately firing explosive rockets at civilian population centers in Israel.
The casualty figures reported by Palestinians have also proven completely unreliable in the past and no one should take them as fact. We know that the Palestinians will routinely call attacks "massacres" and invent large numbers of fatalities, so journalists should be on guard for such unverified claims. Even when bodies are presented as evidence, we have learned that they are often not the victims of an Israeli attack and sometimes they are not even dead (a classic Palestinian video shows a funeral in which the pall bearers drop the stretcher with the "corpse" who then gets up and runs away). Perhaps the most dramatic example occurred when the Washington Post published a photograph during the first Lebanon War of a baby that appeared to have lost both its arms. The UPI caption said that the seven-month-old had been severely burned when an Israeli jet accidentally hit a Christian residential area. The photo disgusted President Reagan and was one reason he subsequently called for Israel to halt its attacks. The photo and the caption, however, were inaccurate. The baby, in fact, did not lose its arms, and the burns the child suffered were the result of a PLO attack on East Beirut.
Early in the Gaza war, the media reported that nearly 300 Gazans were killed in the incursion. These numbers came from Palestinian sources. Moreover, what many reporters left out is the fact that even Palestinians admitted the majority of those casualties were Hamas and Islamic Jihad terrorists.
Some reports have also cited UN officials on conditions in Gaza and these must also be treated as suspect. UN representatives in Gaza are not impartial observers; they are individuals there specifically to aid the Palestinians and are naturally sympathetic to their cause. UN operatives in Palestinian territories have often been found to be apologists for terror with an animus toward Israel. Richard Falk, the special rapporteur on the Palestinian territories, for example, has a long history of venomous anti-Israel remarks.
The media is reporting how the Arab world is outraged by Israeli actions, but this is also not a complete account of the facts. First, most of the Arab world does not get its news from the Western media, which at least claims a measure of objectivity; the leading source of news for most Arabs is Al-Jazeera. This network has no pretensions that it is balanced and presents non-stop coverage from a Palestinian perspective with the aim of generating hostility toward Israel. Al-Jazeera has not been reporting on the incessant rocket fire on Israel or its impact on the population. Still, what is striking is how many Arab leaders and commentators have blamed Hamas for provoking Israel. Also, while Hamas has received some rhetorical support from Arab states, they have shown no interest in coming to the group's defense. Accurate reporting would note that for all their statements of support for the Palestinian cause, none of the Arab states are willing to do any more to defend them.
It is a journalist's duty to report on every situation in as unbiased a manner as possible. To do this, reporters who interview Palestinian spokespeople or hospital officials should check their facts with other sources, including the IDF and the Israel Foreign Ministry, both of which have been historically honest in their fact-collecting. If journalists are not careful in their reporting of the situation in Gaza they will be later castigated by their colleagues, as was the case after the last Lebanon War.
Wall Street Journal
JANUARY 8, 2009
The Jews Face a Double Standard
Why doesn't Israel have the same right to self-defense as other nations?
By MARVIN HIER
The world-wide protests against Israel's ground incursion into Gaza are so full of hatred that they leave me with the terrible feeling that these protests have little to do with the so-called disproportionality of the Israeli response to Hamas rockets, or the resulting civilian casualties.
My fear is that the rage we see in the protesters marching in the streets is far more profound and dangerous than we would like to believe. There are a great many people in the world who, even after Auschwitz, just can't bear the Jewish state having the same rights they so readily grant to other nations. These voices insist Israel must take risks they would never dare ask of any other nation-state -- risks that threaten its very survival -- because they don't believe Israel should exist in the first place.
Just look at the spate of attacks this week on Jews and Jewish institutions around the world: a car ramming into a synagogue in France; a Chabad menorah and Jewish-owned shops sprayed with swastikas in Belgium; a banner at an Australian rally demanding "clean the earth from dirty Zionists!"; demonstrators in the Netherlands chanting "Gas the Jews"; and in Florida, protestors demanding Jews "Go back to the ovens!"
How else can we explain the double-standard that is applied to the Gaza conflict, if not for a more insidious bias against the Jewish state?
At the U.N., no surprise, this double-standard is in full force. In response to Israel's attack on Hamas, the Security Council immediately pulled an all-night emergency meeting to consider yet another resolution condemning Israel. Have there been any all-night Security Council sessions held during the seven months when Hamas fired 3,000 rockets at half a million innocent civilians in southern Israel? You can be certain that during those seven months, no midnight oil was burning at the U.N. headquarters over resolutions condemning terrorist organizations like Hamas. But put condemnation of Israel on the agenda and, rain or shine, it's sure to be a full house.
Red Cross officials are all over the Gaza crisis, describing it as a full-blown humanitarian nightmare. Where were they during the seven months when tens of thousands of Israeli families could not sleep for fear of a rocket attack? Where were their trauma experts to decry that humanitarian crisis?
There have been hundreds of articles and reports written from the Erez border crossing falsely accusing Israel of blocking humanitarian supplies from reaching beleaguered Palestinians in Gaza. (In fact, over 520 truck loads of humanitarian aid have been delivered through Israeli crossings since the beginning of the Israeli counterattack.) But how many news articles, NGO reports and special U.N. commissions have investigated Hamas's policy of deliberately placing rocket launchers near schools, mosques and homes in order to use innocent Palestinians as human shields?
Many people ask why there are so few Israeli casualties in comparison with the Palestinian death toll. It's because Israel's first priority is the safety of its citizens, which is why there are shelters and warning systems in Israeli towns. If Hamas can dig tunnels, it can certainly build shelters. Instead, it prefers to use women and children as human shields while its leaders rush into hiding.
And then there are the clarion calls for a cease-fire. These words, which come so easily, have proven to be a recipe for disaster. Hamas uses the cease-fire as a time-out to rearm and smuggle even more deadly weapons so the next time, instead of hitting Sderot and Ashkelon, they can target Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.
The pattern is always the same. Following a cease-fire brought on by international pressure, there will be a call for a massive infusion of funds to help Palestinians recover from the devastation of the Israeli attack. The world will respond eagerly, handing over hundreds of millions of dollars. To whom does this money go? To Hamas, the same terrorist group that brought disaster to the Palestinians in the first place.
The world seems to have forgotten that at the end of World War II, President Harry Truman initiated the Marshall Plan, investing vast sums to rebuild Germany. But he did so only with the clear understanding that the money would build a new kind of Germany -- not a Fourth Reich that would continue the policies of Adolf Hitler. Yet that is precisely what the world will be doing if we once again entrust funds to Hamas terrorists and their Iranian puppet masters.
In less than two weeks, Barack Obama will be sworn in as president of the United States. But there is no "change we can believe in" in the Middle East -- not where Israel is concerned. The double-standard continuously applied to the Jewish state proves that, for much of the world, the real lessons of World War II have yet to be learned.
How much is too much in war?
Michael Walzer , The New Republic Published: January 08, 2009
Let's talk about proportionality--or, more important, about its negative form. "Disproportionate" is the favorite critical term in current discussions of the morality of war. But most of the people who use it don't know what it means in international law or in just war theory. Curiously, they don't realize that it has been used far more often to justify than to criticize what we might think of as excessive violence. It is a dangerous idea.
Proportionality doesn't mean "tit for tat," as in the family feud. The Hatfields kill three McCoys, so the McCoys must kill three Hatfields. More than three, and they are breaking the rules of the feud, where proportionality means symmetry. The use of the term is different with regard to war, because war isn't an act of retribution; it isn't a backward-looking activity, and the law of even-Steven doesn't apply.
Like it or not, war is always purposive in character; it has a goal, an end-in-view. The end is often misconceived, but not always: to defeat the Nazis, to stop the dominos from falling, to rescue Kuwait, to destroy Iraq's weapons of mass destruction. Proportionality implies a measure, and the measure here is the value of the end-in-view. How many civilian deaths are "not disproportionate to" the value of defeating the Nazis? Answer that question, put that way, and you are likely to justify too much--and that is the way proportionality arguments have worked over most of their history.
The case is the same with arguments focused on particular acts of war. Consider the example of an American air raid on a German tank factory in World War Two that kills a number of civilians living nearby. The justification goes like this: The number of civilians killed is "not disproportionate to" the damage those tanks would do in days and months to come if they continued to roll off the assembly line. That is a good argument, and it does indeed justify some number of the unintended civilian deaths. But what number? How do you set an upper limit, given that there could be many tanks and much damage?
Because proportionality arguments are forward-looking, and because we don't have positive, but only speculative, knowledge about the future, we need to be very cautious in using this justification. The commentators and critics using it today, however, are not being cautious at all; they are not making any kind of measured judgment, not even a speculative kind. "Disproportionate" violence for them is simply violence they don't like, or it is violence committed by people they don't like.
So Israel's Gaza war was called "disproportionate" on day one, before anyone knew very much about how many people had been killed or who they were. The standard proportionality argument, looking ahead as these arguments rightly do, would come from the other side. Before the six months of cease-fire (when the fire never ceased), Hamas had only primitive and home-made rockets that could hit nearby small towns in Israel. By the end of the six months, they had far more advanced rockets, no longer home-made, that can hit cities 30 or 40 kilometers away. Another six months of the same kind of cease-fire, which is what many nations at the UN demanded, and Hamas would have rockets capable of hitting Tel Aviv. And this is an organization explicitly committed to the destruction of Israel. How many civilian casualties are "not disproportionate to" the value of avoiding the rocketing of Tel Aviv? How many civilian casualties would America's leaders think were "not disproportionate to" the value of avoiding the rocketing of New York?
The answer, again, is too many. We have to make proportionality calculations, but those calculations won't provide the most important moral limits on warfare.
These are the questions that point us toward the important limits. First, before the war begins: Are there other ways of achieving the end-in-view? In the Israeli case, this question has shaped the intense political arguments that have been going on since the withdrawal from Gaza: What is the right way to stop the rocket attacks? How do you guarantee that Hamas won't acquire more and more advanced rocketry? Many policies have been advocated, and many have been tried.
Second, once the fighting begins, who is responsible for putting civilians in the line of fire? It is worth recalling that in the Lebanon war of 2006, Kofi Annan, then the Secretary-General of the UN, though he criticized Israel for a "disproportionate" response to Hezbollah's raid, also criticized Hezbollah--not just for firing rockets at civilians, but also for firing them from heavily populated civilian areas, so that any response would inevitably kill or injure civilians. I don't think that the new Secretary General has made the same criticism of Hamas, but Hamas clearly has a similar policy.
The third question: Is the attacking army acting in concrete ways to minimize the risks they impose on civilians? Are they taking risks themselves for that purpose? Armies choose tactics that are more or less protective of the civilian population, and we judge them by their choices. I haven't heard this question asked about the Gaza war by commentators and critics in the Western media; it is a hard question, since any answer would have to take into account the tactical choices of Hamas.
In fact, all three are hard questions, but they are the ones that have to be asked and answered if we are to make serious moral judgments about Gaza--or any other war. The question "Is it disproportionate?" isn't hard at all for people eager to say yes, but asked honestly, the answer will often be no, and that answer may justify more than we ought to justify. Asking the hard questions and worrying about the right answers--these are the moral obligations of commentators and critics, who are supposed to enlighten us about the moral obligations of soldiers. There hasn't been much enlightenment these last days.
Michael Walzer is a contributing editor at The New Republic