Almost 1,100 rockets were fired at Israel over the course of five days last week, with several reaching as far as Gush Etzion and Beit Shemesh before an Egyptian-brokered ceasefire began on Saturday night. Three people were killed in Israel by rockets; an 80-year-old Israeli woman in Rehovot and, ironically, two men from Gaza who were working in Israel. At least 69 Israelis were also wounded.
In response, the IDF carried out over 200 airstrikes targeting 215 Islamic Jihad targets and killing four Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) leaders.
At least 31 people in Gaza have been killed since Israel launched the offensive, according to the Hamas-run Health Ministry in Gaza, and at least 93 more have been injured. An IDF spokesman said Israel had killed 18 terrorists but admitted the IDF was responsible for the deaths of 10 civilians.
On Thursday, the IDF called off an airstrike when children were seen in the area.
However, a closer look reveals a different picture, transferring at least some of the blame for the suffering of Gazans onto PIJ. As of Thursday, the PIJ launched 866 projectiles. 260 were intercepted over Israel before they reached their targets. But at least 163, approximately 20%, of these projectiles, fell short of the border, many exploding inside Gaza. The IDF claimed that at least four Gazan civilians were killed by Islamic Jihad rockets impacting inside Gaza.
The IDF published a clip on Thursday morning showing Islamic Jihad launching a barrage of rockets at Israel late Wednesday, with several rockets seen falling short and landing in Gaza.
The issue was put into context by Foreign Minister Eli Cohen on Wednesday when he briefed over 100 foreign ambassadors and diplomats about Operation Shield and Arrow. Cohen said that every missile from Gaza is “a double war crime,” in that it is shot from populated areas, using Gaza residents as human shields, toward civilian populations.
PAST CONFLICTS: GAZA KILLING ITS OWN PEOPLE
But this is tragically characteristic of rocket attacks from Gaza. During the last major flare-up with Islamic Jihad in August 2022, 47 Palestinians were killed including 16 children and four women. At least 14 of the Palestinian casualties were killed by Islamic Jihad-fired rockets that fell short. The IDF said more Palestinian children were killed as a result of failed rockets than in Israeli strikes.
In May 2021, Hamas and PIJ fired over 4,360 rockets at Israel. The IDF responded by launching Operation Guardians of the Walls. 232 people were killed in Gaza, including 61 children and 36 women, and more than 1,600 injured. Of those, 225 were confirmed as belonging to terrorist organizations. At least 680 of the low-tech rockets fired by the terrorists at Israel fell short, landing inside Gaza.
IsraellyCool 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 by 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 and PIJ routinely use civilians as human shields in contravention of international law. 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.
WAR IN THE BIBLE
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
But the Torah also allows for the necessity of war, requiring 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 mandates 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