Who’s in the Crosshairs?

July 8, 2021
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Throughout the 11-day conflict in May when Hamas fired more than 4,300 rockets in nearly uninterrupted volleys on Israeli civilians, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) retaliated to protect its people from the deadly attack. Like nearly all military operations in its 73-year history, Operation Guardian of the Walls unleashed a floodgate of condemnation, accusation and slanders against Israel. The plot was nothing new, casting Israel in the role of oppressive aggressor, instigating a one-sided fight against the hapless Palestinians and using its superior power to target innocent civilians with impunity. As charges, denunciations and outcries resounded across traditional and social media, whipping a generation obsessed with social justice into a frenzy, the truth of the conflict fell by the wayside. Israel did not start the fight. The conflict was not between Israel and Palestinians but rather between the only democracy in the Middle East and a terror organization ready to wipe Israel from the map. But perhaps more importantly, Israel wasn’t the one targeting innocent civilians. In fact, throughout the 11 days of rockets and retaliatory air strikes, Israel went to every length to safeguard the lives of Gazan civilians. The same cannot be said for Hamas.       

“The IDF does more to safeguard the rights of civilians in a combat zone than any other army in the history of warfare. The IDF took extraordinary measures to give Gaza civilians notice of targeted areas, dropping millions of leaflets, broadcasting radio messages, sending texts and making tens of thousands of phone calls. Many IDF missions that could have taken out Hamas military capabilities were aborted to prevent civilian casualties. Hamas, on the other hand, committed war crimes as official government policy, positioning its military assets among the civilian population, hiding weapons in schools and hospitals and placing rocket launchers alongside apartment buildings, then forced those civilians to stay in areas they knew would be attacked.”

—Colonel Richard Kemp, former commander of the British Forces in Afghanistan

“We are targeting a terror organization that is targeting our civilians and hiding behind their civilians, using them as human shields. We are doing everything we can to hit the terrorists themselves, their rockets, their rocket caches, their arms, but we’re not going to let them get away with it—and neither would you. Just imagine what would have happened if you had 2,900 rockets fired on Washington and New York.”

—Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

“Hamas killed them [the civilians who perished in Gaza]. If you are hiding your rockets behind women and children, you are effectively murdering your own people. Make no mistake, we will defend ourselves. And if Hamas decides to turn schools and hospitals into terror bases in a cowardly manner, they are responsible for murdering their own people…Hamas, instead of taking their money and investing in building hospitals and schools, in building a future for its people, is spending all its money on terror, on trying to kill Israelis.”

—Naftali Bennett, former defense minister and opposition party leader 

“This was not a war against the Palestinians. It was an operation of self-defense against Hamas and related terror organizations. Unfortunately, this task was made extremely difficult by Hamas, as they made the choice to use civilians as human shields. Thus, protecting civilians was almost impossible, but I am proud of the way that we did it—our own forces took safety risks in order to protect Palestinians.”

—Senior IDF officer in the aftermath of Operation Cast Lead in 2009

“Hamas committed internationally recognized war crimes and made it impossible for the IDF to avoid collateral damage to civilians and civilian objectives in pursuit of legitimate military objectives during the operation.”

—Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Command control: “Check if there are any children there. There are probably children there. We are stopping everything.”

Pilot: “That’s right. There is a big one and a few smaller ones.”

Command control: “We can’t continue given the possibility that there are children.”

—The IDF calls off an air strike on a known Hamas target after spotting children in the area

“It was abundantly clear that IDF commanders had gone beyond any mandates that international law requires to avoid civilian casualties. Hamas’s playbook calls for helping to kill its own civilians, while the IDF’s playbook goes to extreme—some say inappropriate—lengths to protect innocent life in war.”

—Willy Stern, veteran journalist and law professor at Vanderbilt Law School

The IDF “is setting an unreasonable precedent for other democratic countries of the world who may also be fighting in asymmetric wars against brutal non-state actors who abuse these laws.”

— Wolff Heintschel von Heinegg, military law expert at European University Viadrina Frankfurt

“Hamas can invest in bunkers and sirens for civilians. It doesn’t. In no other conflict is one side told it has to provide air defense to the other side.”

—Seth J. Frantzman, author and journalist, exposing the hypocrisy of the accusations 

“Today, I read a vile comment that Israel’s goal is ‘dead Palestinians and bombed out buildings.’ If that were the case, rather than only 69 casualties, there would be 6,900 or 69,000 deaths. Israel has the firepower, but Israel tactically is careful to warn and evacuate civilians from areas in which terrorists are hiding, even if that means that terrorists get away. Israel is not a country celebrating death, on their side or ours.”

—Jonathan Feldstein, a resident of central Israel, sums up the situation

“Ironically enough, it is the leaders of Hamas themselves who best understand the extraordinary measures the IDF will take to protect innocent civilians. They take full advantage of Israel’s decency and adherence to the law of war. No army takes such risks in order to protect civilians as the Israeli army does. I say this as a professional soldier. I say it because it is true. And people who care about truth should know it.”

—Colonel Richard Kemp, former commander of the British Forces in Afghanistan

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