For Ha­mas, the hor­ror in Gaza is the strat­egy

The Jewish Chronicle - - NEWS - BY RICHARD KEMP

HA­MAS DO not ig­nore the laws of war. They know them well and do ev­ery­thing they can to ex­ploit Is­rael’s ad­her­ence to them.

The ur­ban war­fare man­ual of Ha­mas’s Shuja’iya Bri­gade, found this week by Is­raeli troops in Gaza, con­firms they know the IDF ap­ply strict rules to min­imise civil­ian ca­su­al­ties: “The soldiers and com­man­ders [of the IDF] must limit their use of weapons and tac­tics that lead to the harm and un­nec­es­sary loss of peo­ple and [de­struc­tion of] civil­ian fa­cil­i­ties. It is dif­fi­cult for them to get the most use out of their firearms, es­pe­cially of sup­port­ing fire [eg ar­tillery and air­power].”

Although Chan­nel 4 News pre­sen­ter Jon Snow im­plied last week that Ha­mas do not de­ploy hu­man shields, the man­ual clearly ad­vo­cates their use. Ha­mas lead­ers have re­peat­edly boasted of this crim­i­nal tac­tic in the me­dia. And on Tues­day, NDTV, an In­dian sta­tion, re­leased re­mark­able footage of Ha­mas fight­ers set­ting up and fir­ing a rocket from the heart of a pop­u­lated area.

This is not just another el­e­ment of Ha­mas’s fight in Gaza: it is the cen­tral pil­lar of their strat­egy. They are not fight­ing a mil­i­tary cam­paign against Is­rael be­cause they know they could never win. They are fight­ing a pro­pa­ganda war that Is­rael can never win with­out the staunch­est sup­port from her Western al­lies. Sup­port that is sadly lack­ing.

Rock­ets, Ha­mas fight­ers and even at­tack tun­nels are merely de­vices to pro­voke Is­rael’s mil­i­tary re­sponse. Re­jec­tion and vi­o­la­tion of cease­fires en­sures it con­tin­ues. Ha­mas’s real weapons are the men, women, chil­dren and ba­bies of the Pales­tinian pop­u­la­tion.

The term “hu­man shields” is in fact a mis­nomer. They are not there to shield weapons and fight­ers from IDF at­tack. They are there to be sac­ri­ficed: to bleed, to die and to be pho­tographed do­ing so.

For Ha­mas, the stench of death is the smell of vic­tory. Vic­tory is an end­less sup­ply of Is­rael-hat­ing Pales­tinian chil­dren shocked and shat­tered by the vi­o­lent deaths of their moth­ers, fathers, broth­ers and sis­ters be­side them.

Vic­tory is the un­bal­anced me­dia out­rage. The ap­palling im­ages of suf­fer­ing beamed around the world, in­cit­ing large-scale protests, stir­ring up ha­tred against the Jewish state, in­spir­ing vi­o­lence against the Jewish peo­ple, en­er­gis­ing cam­paigns to boy­cott, sanc­tion and di­vest.

Vic­tory is the clam­our of the UN and Western politi­cians to con­demn the state of Is­rael. Many politi­cians know the re­al­ity but find it eas­ier to suc­cumb to pub­lic opinion than to lead it. The Mayor of Lon­don Boris John­son ac­cuses Is­rael of act­ing dis­pro­por­tion­ately, with the ex­cuse that: “In hav­ing that opinion, I’m merely echo­ing what every­one else is say­ing at the mo­ment.”

And above all, vic­tory is the de­mand by US Pres­i­dent Barack Obama, Is­rael’s most im­por­tant ally, to end hos­til­i­ties and to reach an ac­com­mo­da­tion ad­van­ta­geous to Ha­mas.

Could Is­rael have avoided Ha­mas’s provo­ca­tion and sat back while rock­ets were fired at its pop­u­la­tion? Of course not. Is­rael re­sponded in the only way any civilised coun­try could: with pre­ci­sion air strikes and ground as­saults to pre- vent Ha­mas ag­gres­sion — while do­ing ev­ery­thing pos­si­ble to min­imise harm to civil­ians.

When Ha­mas use apart­ment blocks, schools, hos­pi­tals and mosques to store weapons and to at­tack, as they have re­peat­edly, these be­come le­git­i­mate tar­gets, even when civil­ians are present.

Trag­i­cally, many in­no­cents have died. This could not be avoided given Ha­mas’s method of wag­ing war. But do not be­lieve the num­bers pushed out so read­ily by the UN and the me­dia. These come di­rectly from Ha­mas, and rep­re­sent the sec­ond plank of their fight­ing tac­tics — lies, dis­tor­tion and even elab­o­rate fak­ing of civil­ian ca­su­al­ties to sup­port and am­plify the strat­egy that de­mands the sac­ri­fice of their own peo­ple. Re­tired Colonel Richard Kemp CBE was Com­man­der of Bri­tish

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