Dec 01, 2021
JERUSALEM WEATHER

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On May 10, terrorist organizations began firing rockets at Israel, targeting urban centers. When the ceasefire began eleven days later, approximately 4,360 rockets had been fired at Israel. The Iron Dome succeeded in intercepting more than 90% of the projectiles but the attacks from Gaza killed a total of 13. The IDF responded, targeting military targets and giving advance warnings when civilians were endangered. Nonetheless, the Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry reported that 232 people were killed in Gaza, including 61 children and 36 women,  and more than 1,600 injured. 

While every death is tragic, these unevaluated numbers were held up as a reason to condemn Israel, most notable by celebrities Trevor Noah and John Oliver. The IDF claims that it conducted some 570 airstrikes. In the operation dubbed Guardians of the Walls, The IDF succeeded in killing  225 terrorists, many of them senior officers in the rocket and anti-tank missile corps. Most of these can be confirmed on the terrorist websites which proudly display these casualties with names and photos as shahid (martyrs). 

The data provided by the Gaza Health Ministry is suspect and during Operation Protective Edge in 2014, Hamas issued guidelines to Palestinians in Gaza to call anyone killed a “civilian,” regardless of whether they were actually a fighter.

But the story that few are reporting is that at least 680 of the low-tech rockets fired by the terrorists at Israel fell short, landing inside Gaza. Some estimates place the number of shortfalls as high as one-third. The shortfalls caused considerable damage, knocking out the power lines supplying Israeli electricity to more than 230,000 Gazans. In order to continue its terrorist operations, Hamas disabled Gaza City’s desalination plant, cutting some 250,000 residents off from their water supply. Six days ago, Hamas rocket fire targeted a convoy of humanitarian aid on its way to Gaza.

Media bias on Gaza reporting

A report by the media watchdog site CAMERA noted that there had been no reporting on the self-damage inflicted by Hamas.

“Hamas deliberately avoids distinguishing between combatants and civilians in the statistics it puts out to the foreign press,” CAMERA wrote. “It likewise attributes all casualties to Israeli actions, whether or not that is in fact the case.”

CAMERA noted several BBC reports on Palestinian casualties, including many children. As per the Gaza Health Ministry’s unsubstantiated claims, the BBC blamed all of the deaths on the IDF and did not identify a single casualty as a combatant. The BBC did not report on the IDF investigation on an incident in Beit Hanoun in which six children under 18 and two adults were killed. Based on hard data including radar and visual drone recordings, the IDF determined that the cause was shortfall rockets fired by terrorist groups. The IDF also investigated records of their activities at the time and determined there were none that could account for the explosion in Beit Haroun.

Several others of these incidents of Gazans being killed were investigated and found to be caused by Hamas rocket shortfall. This was admitted concerning two such incidents by the pro-Palestinian NGO, Defence for Children International (DCI). 

Israelly Cool reported on a Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center report examining those killed in IDF attacks during the first two days of Operation Guardians of the Walls based on data released on Palestinian sources.

  • 16 (21%) were killed during the unsuccessful launch of rockets at Israel (including ten who were 18-years-old or less)
  • At least 41 (55%) were terrorists: 30 Hamas, 3 Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and 8 Fatah
  • 17 (23%) were possibly civilians

“Hamas’ attempts to create a false impression that the vast majority of those killed were uninvolved civilians,” Israelly Cool reported. “A large number of the terrorist operatives killed were also portrayed as ‘civilians’ on social networks and in the Arab media channels for the same reasons.”

Hamas’ tactic of using civilians as human shields contravenes international law and constitutes a war crime, a fact admitted by the United Nations.

This tactic includes launching rockets in close proximity to civilians or from civilian structures. Hamas also digs terrorist tunnels under civilian structures. When the IDF destroys these tunnels, these sections that are distant from the point at which the IDF attacks them can collapse, causing civilian casualties. Neutralizing these threats to Israeli citizens can only be entirely achieved through a devastating air campaign or a ground incursion that endangers IDF soldiers. The IDF has chosen to address these threats through precision methods that, although they are not 100% effective in preventing civilian deaths, are remarkably successful.

This tactic of using Gazans as human shields was admitted to and even justified by Hamas spokesman, Dr. Basem Naim, in an interview with Sky News. 

In the same interview, he also justified targeting Israeli civilians while refusing the option of negotiating with Israel.

The Mitzvah of war

Peace is an ideal in Judaism and the culmination of the redemption process is a condition in which all human conflict will be settled by God, as described by Isaiah.

Thus He will judge among the nations And arbitrate for the many peoples, And they shall beat their swords into plowshares And their spears into pruning hooks: Nation shall not take up Sword against nation; They shall never again know war. Isaiah 2:4

The Torah requires that an attempt at reconciliation be made before a battle is initiated. 

When you approach a town to attack it, you shall offer it terms of peace. Deuteronomy 20:10

Nonetheless, the Torah does allow, and even mandate war under certain circumstances. According to most opinions, the current conflict is defined as milchemet mitzvah, a necessary defensive battle for Jewish existence in the boundaries of Israel. Such a war does not require the approval of a Sanhedrin nor does it require a king. The Rambam rules that there are no exemptions in such a war and even “a bride from under her wedding canopy” must participate. 

Regarding the killing of non-combatants, the Torah seems to present two options. If the enemy rejects reconciliation, all men of fighting age are regarded as combatants and thus valid targets.

If it does not surrender to you, but would join battle with you, you shall lay siege to it; and when Hashem your God delivers it into your hand, you shall put all its males to the sword. Deuteronomy 20:12-13