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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.

Cases: 143879

Reported Deaths: 3676
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto952799
Hinds9520193
Harrison6801105
Jackson6043116
Rankin521996
Lee477094
Madison4595102
Forrest360685
Jones341687
Lauderdale3340142
Lafayette312047
Washington3043106
Lamar273849
Bolivar237583
Oktibbeha237460
Lowndes227562
Neshoba2170113
Panola210347
Marshall206547
Leflore200389
Pontotoc192527
Monroe188877
Sunflower188754
Lincoln183664
Warren171757
Tate163049
Pike159958
Union159025
Copiah158840
Yazoo149538
Scott149429
Coahoma146742
Itawamba144433
Simpson143153
Alcorn142724
Pearl River142067
Prentiss138426
Grenada135844
Adams134148
Leake131643
Holmes124261
George121523
Tippah120430
Covington116434
Winston115824
Wayne115522
Hancock113337
Marion109046
Attala106133
Tishomingo105542
Newton102829
Chickasaw102132
Tallahatchie94727
Clarke88153
Clay86226
Jasper80421
Walthall73728
Montgomery71925
Calhoun71213
Stone71014
Carroll70114
Lawrence69814
Noxubee68917
Smith68616
Yalobusha67626
Perry63925
Tunica59519
Greene58222
Claiborne57416
Jefferson Davis53817
Humphreys52318
Amite50714
Benton48217
Quitman4766
Webster41614
Kemper40615
Wilkinson38422
Jefferson33511
Franklin3155
Sharkey30617
Choctaw3057
Issaquena1094
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Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 232506

Reported Deaths: 3457
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson30318491
Mobile19260356
Tuscaloosa12446148
Madison12204146
Montgomery12000232
Shelby971276
Baldwin819984
Lee750464
Morgan610447
Calhoun5964113
Etowah585764
Marshall579453
Houston503338
DeKalb460835
Cullman409636
Limestone400844
St. Clair396055
Elmore391061
Lauderdale378353
Walker348096
Talladega334042
Colbert294341
Jackson290524
Blount275436
Autauga261739
Franklin243633
Coffee230315
Dale225454
Dallas219631
Russell21753
Chilton216137
Covington212333
Escambia194031
Tallapoosa168590
Chambers167548
Clarke154919
Pike154714
Marion133935
Winston122523
Lawrence121436
Geneva11678
Marengo116424
Barbour116010
Pickens114118
Bibb113617
Butler113341
Randolph99521
Cherokee98524
Hale91531
Washington89818
Clay88823
Henry8386
Fayette83116
Lowndes78529
Monroe76811
Cleburne74214
Crenshaw70030
Macon69420
Bullock68919
Conecuh66814
Perry6686
Wilcox62318
Lamar6227
Sumter55322
Choctaw41713
Greene39917
Coosa3064
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