Israel withdrew every last civilian and soldier from Gaza in 2005. There has been no “occupation” of Gaza since then. The Israelis left behind fourteen million dollars worth of greenhouses, so that the Gazans could take over the flourishing export business of fruits and flowers that Israelis had built, and were now leaving to them. Instead, the Gazans chose to vandalize and destroy the greenhouses, apparently uninterested in working for a living when deep-pocketed foreign donors have been so willing to support them. And Hamas turned Gaza into a center for terrorist attacks against the Jewish state, forcing Israel to conduct four campaigns against the terror group in what the IDF describes as “mowing the grass.” “Israeli Soldiers Die Because Its Military Is So Moral; How to Fight the Next War,” by Gil Troy, Algemeiner, October 19, 2023:
Israel has dropped leaflets before dropping bombs. Israel has texted citizens before dropping bombs. Israel has “knocked roofs,” sending missiles across a targeted building, before dropping bombs. Israel empowered pilots to abort important missions against legitimate military targets if too many civilians seem to be at risk. Sacrificing the element of surprise, Israel kept trying to act morally — yet kept being condemned internationally.
Meanwhile, cowering behind civilians, Hamas amassed arsenals, trained killers, and terrorized the Gaza corridor with rockets, riots, and attempted border breaches. In 2018, turning to eco-terrorism, they sent burning kites over the border. Their “Kitetifada” set 2,000 fires, incinerating agriculture in an area two-thirds the size of Geneva — where the UN kept skewering “immoral” democratic Israel, while ignoring totalitarian Hamas.
That year, I interviewed my cousin, Adele Raemer. For decades, she lived happily in a progressive paradise of the Gaza corridor kibbutzim, but was now watching as Israel’s disengagement made their lives hellish. “The IDF is the world’s most moral army,” she said. “They aim for the feet. They ‘knock on the roof,’ warning dwellers to flee an apartment-building-turned-terrorist-base before destroying it. If, God forbid, Hamas had breached the fence, hundreds would have been killed.”…
Troy makes a good case that Israel should be less wedded to “purity of arms” and more interested in choosing the means that minimize dangers to its soldiers. Palestinians in Gaza — described merely as “protesters” in the Western media — who took part in the Great March of Return in 2018-2019, hoped to breach Israel’s security fence, and then to enter the “Zionist entity” in order to kidnap or kill Israeli civilians and soldiers. They were armed with rocks, Molotov cocktails, fireworks, and some even had guns or grenades. Yet Israel did not use live fire except in the most dire of circumstances, when Palestinians were right at the security fence, hurling Molotov cocktails at Israeli soldiers and in danger of breaching the fence.
Unfortunately, Israel’s moral code shaped the “conceptzia,” the conception that decided Hamas was pragmatic, and its violence could be indulged and contained.
Hamas has ever since the 2014 war been presenting itself to the Israelis as more interested in building a prosperous ministate in Gaza than in continuing with its terrorism, and convinced too many in Israel that it would not do anything that would lead Israel to end its practice of providing work permits which, before Oct. 7, were provided to nearly 20,000 Gazans. But in fact, Hamas is not “pragmatic,” but consists of Muslim fanatics who are like the scorpion in the Russian tale. The scorpion is given a ride across a pond by a frog, but halfway across, the scorpion stings the frog, and as the frog is dying, taking the scorpion with him to a watery grave, he asks why the scorpion has done this; the scorpion answers “I can’t help myself. It’s in my nature.” Rape, torture, murder, kidnapping — these are in Hamas’ nature.
Fighting this new unsought war for survival, Israelis should learn from this unhappy history:
First, military morality entails a sliding scale. The greater the threat, the more evil the enemy, the more aggressive armies can be. After October 7, it would be immoral for Israel to tolerate Hamas’s continued presence next door.
Think of how the Allies firebombed Dresden, and Tokyo, hitting not just enemy soldiers and military installations, but also killing tens of thousands of civilians, yet few of us think we were wrong to do so, given the need both to destroy enemy weapons and bunkers, and also to demoralize the enemy. Think of the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, in order to bring the war in the Pacific to an end, thereby saving tens of thousands of American lives (and even more Japanese ones) that would have been lost during an all-out invasion of Japan.
Remember how the American soldiers called down airstrikes to bomb ISIS sites in Mosul, strikes that also killed many thousands of civilians, or how the Americans flattened Fallujah to clear out Saddam’s loyalists. Yet if Israeli bombs, despite the IAF’s best efforts to warn civilians to leave targeted buildings, cause civilian casualties, much of the world erupts in fury at what they call “war crimes.” Israel has to simply carry on, pointing out again and again that it has no desire to hit civilians, and makes every effort to minimize those casualties, while Hamas makes every effort to maximize them, even preventing many Palestinians from leaving areas — like northern Gaza — where Israel has warned civilians to leave. Hamas does not care about the lives of Gazans; it is perfectly willing to sacrifice them, aware that it will score propaganda points against the Jewish state.
Second, among the many anti-Israel libels distorting coverage, reporters must stop claiming that Gaza is so “densely populated,” treating Palestinians like sitting ducks. How could anyone in Manhattan, with 72,918 residents per square mile, deem Gaza overcrowded, with 16,583 residents per square mile — even fewer considering the extra living space Hamas developed in underground tunnels by siphoning humanitarian aid from the UN and other dupes.
Third, end the charade. Although Hamas is cruel to its people — many of its people have been cruel to Israelis. Don’t blame every Palestinian. But every Palestinian who cheered this rampage, who shared snuff videos, who giddily distributed candy after any terrorist attacks — is neither innocent nor hostage to Hamas….
This insistence on the “innocent Palestinians,” who, we are told, do not support Hamas, is much too optimistic. A great many people in Gaza support Hamas’ war on Israel, even if they are not members of the group. Those who celebrated on Oct. 7 by handing out candy, or who take great pleasure in watching the videos Hamas has posted of Israelis being raped, or tortured, or murdered, cannot be described as “innocent.”
Gil Troy suggests that a little less “purity of arms,” when the lives of IDF soldiers can be saved as a result, is be worth considering. At this point, just before the IDF battles its way into northern Gaza, trying to ferret out and kill the enemy under the hellishly complicated conditions of urban warfare, where every house, alley, tunnel, basement, or rooftop, may hide Hamas killers, in the midst of civilians, the IDF would do well to heed his advice.