Why Gaza is no Selma

Despite a culture of innovation that has mastered high-tech and even produced a Wonder Woman, Israel is not often the...

Posted: May 17, 2018 10:14 AM
Updated: May 17, 2018 10:14 AM

Despite a culture of innovation that has mastered high-tech and even produced a Wonder Woman, Israel is not often the envy of other nations. It is a perpetual target - especially when it comes to its own self-defense.

Take, for example, the situation over the past two months in Gaza. Ongoing confrontations known as the March of Return have featured tens of thousands of Palestinians, encouraged by Hamas -- a terrorist group that rejects Israel's right to exist -- to gather at the border, storm the fence and infiltrate Israel. Some kept their distance, but many hurled Molotov cocktails, rolled burning tires, and set flaming kites aloft. The most active participants were Hamas and Islamic Jihad operatives detonating bombs and firing weapons.

Israel responded, in many cases, with lethal force, resulting in 62 dead over the past several days, 53 of whom were members of Hamas, according to reports in the Times of Israel, also quoting a Hamas official who spoke to the Palestinian Baladna news outlet. There were no Israeli casualties.

Welcome to the Promised Land of Dreadful Optics, where Hamas employs a deliberate strategy of inciting a disproportionate loss of Palestinian life in a bid to garner sympathy and demonize Israel. Hamas knows how to make those numbers work in its favor. By emboldening Gazans to place themselves directly in the line of fire and embedding terrorists among civilians. Hamas baits Israel and then waits for the world's outrage. In this twisted morality play without morals, the March of Return is no peaceful protest. Such a charitable description unfairly demonizes Israel and romanticizes Palestinians.

The disproportionate Palestinian body count in the last six weeks has indeed generated global condemnation, even among nations that agree that Israel has the right to defend itself. Israel has faced such scrutiny before in Gaza, from which it withdrew in 2005. Over the years the narrative has gone like this: Hamas instigates a fight, usually with rocket fire or kidnappings, but more recently with this surge of border assaults, resulting in Israeli reprisal. The targets are terrorists, but civilians are unavoidably fired upon (there is a limit to how much precision can be expected even from snipers shooting to kill terrorists who happen to be standing beside teenagers). Hamas exploits a willing population prepared to sacrifice their children to a civilian death strategy. They know that Western nations will recoil at the sight of dead children. If only Gazans felt the same way.

But what is a proportionate response? It doesn't require an even ratio of casualties. Intention matters, too. Yes, more Palestinians have died in these clashes, but disproportion doesn't tell the full story. It's not for a lack of Hamas' trying to kill Israelis that Israeli lives have been relatively spared. The outrage ought to be directed at Hamas for imperiling its own people, actions that in any other context would constitute a war crime. Instead, the world points an accusatory finger at Israel even though arguably no other country has ever confronted such a perverse moral dilemma and demonic endgame.

Hamas has launched thousands of rockets since 2005. Very few have caused damage, due to its abysmal aim and Israel's magical Iron Dome, an aerial defense system that has destroyed incoming missiles before they ever get a chance to land. Hamas' charter calls for the annihilation of Israel. Palestinians chanting "From the river to the sea," a phrase routinely invoked at anti-Israel rallies, amounts to a genocidal ditty that dreams not of a two-state solution but a Final Solution. For their part, Palestinians from the West Bank have been attempting to kill as many Israelis as possible through intifadas, stabbings and car-rammings. Both groups just haven't been proficient enough to offset the death toll when Israel responds to Palestinian aggression with lethal force.

The imbalance in statistical death makes for ominous headlines, but it doesn't violate international law.

These are entirely new rules of engagement. The nations who stand in judgment have no idea how they would respond to enemy combatants not wearing uniforms, blended within the population and not fighting on defined battlegrounds. This is more a public relations battle than a military one, a sadistic game of Palestinian roulette, where dead Gazans serve a greater purpose than dead Israelis.

Disproportion may infuriate political leaders like Bernie Sanders and Theresa May, but Hamas plays this numbers game as if devised by legendary military strategist Sun Tzu's "The Art of War." Hadashot, an Israeli network that also broadcasts in Gaza, featured a video of Palestinian children happily stating that they are finally going home and that dying at the border will guarantee them a place in paradise.

In its dealings with Hamas and other terrorist groups like Hezbollah, Israel serves as the canary in the coal mine of fourth-generation warfare, where the distinctions between combatants and civilians are entirely blurred. There are no conventional armies. The rules of armed combat are up for grabs in the chaos of moral compromise. What's more, civilians protected under the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949 bear little resemblance to Gazans who are not trapped in a war zone by an occupying force, but many of whom are voluntary participants in the way Hamas wages war against Israel.

Gazans were given clear instructions in these weekly calls to rage. Hamas' military leader, Yahya Sinwar, proclaimed, according to the Times of Israel, the people of Gaza "will eat the livers of those besieging."

These were not peaceful gatherings, and Americans, at least, should know better than to judge them as if they were. The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. led a protest movement that rejected violence and never glorified death. And yet, some headlines are treating Gaza like a Middle Eastern Selma. King, who is memorialized with a forest in Israel, would be surprised that we now somehow couldn't tell the difference.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 94021

Reported Deaths: 2846
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds6979155
DeSoto542555
Harrison374372
Jackson339967
Madison321286
Rankin319375
Lee261067
Jones242778
Forrest239570
Washington218171
Lafayette209239
Lauderdale2007124
Bolivar179565
Oktibbeha175450
Lamar163534
Neshoba1540103
Panola144527
Sunflower142144
Lowndes140357
Warren138150
Leflore137080
Pontotoc123616
Pike121348
Monroe118965
Scott116425
Copiah116333
Coahoma112827
Holmes109258
Marshall107615
Lincoln106853
Grenada106235
Yazoo103929
Simpson101443
Union97824
Tate95537
Leake94037
Adams92136
Wayne87721
Pearl River86750
Marion84133
Prentiss81517
Covington80922
Alcorn77511
Itawamba77021
Newton75923
Tallahatchie75718
George75113
Winston72519
Tishomingo66137
Chickasaw65624
Tippah64516
Attala64125
Walthall59425
Clay58117
Hancock56421
Jasper55515
Noxubee54315
Clarke53739
Smith52414
Calhoun50612
Tunica48113
Montgomery45520
Claiborne45216
Lawrence42512
Yalobusha41814
Perry40918
Quitman3755
Humphreys37315
Stone35711
Greene34617
Webster33113
Jefferson Davis32811
Carroll31212
Amite31110
Wilkinson30217
Kemper28615
Sharkey26312
Jefferson2439
Benton2201
Franklin1893
Choctaw1795
Issaquena1033
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 131988

Reported Deaths: 2304
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson19123337
Mobile13122290
Montgomery8688173
Madison763075
Tuscaloosa7323114
Lee575159
Shelby571950
Baldwin508749
Marshall387943
Calhoun337439
Etowah336547
Morgan321426
Houston272722
Elmore255847
DeKalb237119
St. Clair224335
Walker224380
Talladega207726
Limestone200119
Cullman186218
Dallas174926
Franklin174528
Russell17312
Autauga169124
Lauderdale165333
Colbert160926
Escambia156425
Blount156014
Jackson151611
Chilton150227
Dale133343
Covington131127
Coffee12838
Pike11619
Tallapoosa113683
Chambers113242
Clarke105517
Marion94828
Butler91138
Barbour8387
Winston71612
Marengo70119
Lowndes64927
Pickens63814
Bibb63610
Randolph62212
Hale61528
Lawrence59220
Bullock59114
Geneva5814
Monroe5768
Cherokee56916
Clay5527
Washington54913
Perry5386
Wilcox53111
Conecuh52411
Crenshaw52331
Macon47820
Henry4754
Fayette4269
Sumter41819
Lamar3532
Choctaw34512
Cleburne3326
Greene30015
Coosa1653
Out of AL00
Unassigned00
Tupelo
Clear
71° wxIcon
Hi: 73° Lo: 62°
Feels Like: 71°
Columbus
Scattered Clouds
73° wxIcon
Hi: 74° Lo: 61°
Feels Like: 73°
Oxford
Few Clouds
70° wxIcon
Hi: 71° Lo: 58°
Feels Like: 70°
Starkville
Overcast
72° wxIcon
Hi: 72° Lo: 59°
Feels Like: 72°
WTVA Radar
WTVA Temperatures
WTVA Severe Weather