Why do the me­dia keep en­cour­ag­ing Ha­mas vi­o­lence?

The Jerusalem Post - - OBSERVATIONS - Fol­low Alan Der­showitz on Twit­ter: @AlanDersh and on Face­book: @AlanMDer­showitz. This ar­ti­cle was orig­i­nally pub­lished on TheHill.com. • By ALAN M. DER­SHOWITZ

If this were the first time that Ha­mas de­lib­er­ately pro­voked Is­rael into self-de­fense ac­tions that re­sulted in the un­in­tended deaths of Gaza civil­ians, the me­dia could be ex­cused for play­ing into the hands of Ha­mas. The most re­cent Ha­mas provo­ca­tions – hav­ing 40,000 Gazans try to tear down the border fence and en­ter Is­rael with Molo­tov cock­tails and other improvised weapons – are part of a re­peated Ha­mas tac­tic that I have called the “dead baby strat­egy.” Ha­mas’s goal is to have Is­rael kill as many Gazans as pos­si­ble so the head­lines al­ways be­gin, and of­ten end, with the body count. Ha­mas de­lib­er­ately sends women and chil­dren to the front line while their own fighters hide be­hind these hu­man shields.

Ha­mas lead­ers have long ac­knowl­edged this tac­tic. Fathi Ham­mad, a Ha­mas mem­ber of the Pales­tinian Leg­isla­tive Coun­cil, stated as far back as 2008:

“For the Pales­tinian peo­ple, death has be­come an in­dus­try, at which women ex­cel, and so do all the peo­ple liv­ing on this land. The elderly ex­cel at this, and so do the mu­ja­hedin and the chil­dren. This is why they have formed hu­man shields of the women, the chil­dren, the elderly and the mu­ja­hedin, in or­der to chal­lenge the Zion­ist bombing ma­chine. It is as if they were say­ing to the Zion­ist en­emy: ‘We de­sire death like you de­sire life.’”

Ha­mas used this tac­tic to pro­voke two wars with Is­rael in which their fighters fired rock­ets from civil­ian ar­eas, in­clud­ing hos­pi­tals, schools and mosques. When Is­rael re­sponded, it tried its best to avoid civil­ian ca­su­al­ties, drop­ping warn­ing leaflets, calling res­i­dents of po­ten­tial targets and drop­ping non-lethal noise bombs on the roofs of houses that were be­ing used to launch rock­ets and store ex­plo­sives. In­evitably, some civil­ians were killed, and the me­dia blamed Is­rael for these deaths, de­spite the pre­cau­tions it had taken.

The same was true when Ha­mas built terror tun­nels used to kid­nap Is­raeli civil­ians. The en­trances to these tun­nels were in civil­ian ar­eas as well, in­clud­ing mosques and schools. Us­ing their own civil­ians as hu­man shields, while tar­get­ing Is­raeli civil­ians, is a dou­ble war crime. Yet, the me­dia gen­er­ally fo­cuses on Is­rael’s re­ac­tion to these war crimes, rather than Ha­mas’s war crimes them­selves.

The cruel re­al­ity is that ev­ery time Is­rael ac­ci­den­tally kills a Gaza civil­ian, Is­rael loses. And ev­ery time Is­rael kills a Gaza civil­ian, Ha­mas wins. Is­raelis grieve ev­ery civil­ian death its army ac­ci­den­tally causes. Ha­mas ben­e­fits from ev­ery death Is­rael ac­ci­den­tally causes. That is why it en­cour­ages its women and chil­dren to be­come mar­tyrs.

CALLING THIS the “dead baby strat­egy” may seem cruel, be­cause it is cruel. But don’t blame the mes­sen­ger for ac­cu­rately de­scrib­ing this tac­tic. Blame those who cyn­i­cally use it. And blame the me­dia for play­ing into the hands of those who use it by re­port­ing only the body count and not the de­lib­er­ate Ha­mas tac­tic that leads to one-sided body counts.

It is true that Gaza is in a des­per­ate sit­u­a­tion and that it is wounded. But the wound it­self is self-in­flicted. When Is­rael ended its oc­cu­pa­tion of the Gaza Strip – re­mov­ing ev­ery sin­gle sol­dier and set­tler – Gaza could have be­come the Sin­ga­pore on the Mediter­ranean. It is a beau­ti­ful area with a large sea­coast. It re­ceived in­fu­sions of cash and other help from Europe. Is­rael left be­hind agri­cul­tural equip­ment and green­houses. But in­stead of us­ing these re­sources to feed, house and educate its cit­i­zens, Ha­mas built rock­ets, terror tun­nels and weaponry. It threw dis­senters off the roof and mur­dered mem­bers of the Pales­tinian Author­ity who were will­ing to rec­og­nize Is­rael and ne­go­ti­ate with it.

Ha­mas re­jects a two-state so­lu­tion or any so­lu­tion that leaves Is­rael in­tact. Its only so­lu­tion is vi­o­lence, and the events at the fence these past days are a man­i­fes­ta­tion of that vi­o­lence. Would any coun­try in the world al­low 40,000 peo­ple, sworn to its de­struc­tion, knock down a border fence and at­tack its cit­i­zens liv­ing peace­fully near the border? Of course not. Could Is­rael have done more to re­duce ca­su­al­ties among those try­ing to breach the border fence? I don’t know, and nei­ther do the le­gions of arm-chair gen­er­als that are cur­rently crit­i­ciz­ing Is­rael for the steps it took to pre­vent a catas­tro­phe among the res­i­dents of kib­butzim and towns that are prox­i­mate to the border fence.

One thing is crys­tal clear: Ha­mas will con­tinue to use the dead baby strat­egy as long as the me­dia con­tin­ues to re­port the deaths in the man­ner in which it has in re­cent weeks. Many in the me­dia are com­plicit in these deaths be­cause their one-sided re­port­ing en­cour­ages Ha­mas to send in­no­cent women and chil­dren to the front line.

Per­haps Is­rael could do a bet­ter job in defending its civil­ians, but it is cer­tain the me­dia can do a bet­ter job in re­port­ing ac­cu­rately the Ha­mas strat­egy that re­sults in so many in­no­cent deaths.

There is a mar­velous car­toon that il­lus­trates the difference be­tween Ha­mas and Is­rael. It shows an Is­raeli sol­dier stand­ing in front of a baby car­riage shield­ing a baby in the car­riage. Then it shows a Ha­mas ter­ror­ist stand­ing be­hind a baby car­riage with the baby in it, us­ing the baby to shield him. This car­toon bet­ter il­lus­trates the re­al­ity that is oc­cur­ring at the Gaza fence than most of the “ob­jec­tive” re­port­ing by the me­dia.


TEAR GAS lands among pro­test­ers in the Gaza Strip.

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