Israel: Setting the Bar High for Morality in War

israel-hamas-civiliansIsrael’s ambassador to the United States, Ron Dermer, was speaking at the Christians United for Israel Summit in Washington,D.C. last month and spoke in defense of Israeli military operations in Gaza.  “Some are shamelessly accusing Israel of genocide and would put us in the dock for war crimes,” he said.  “But the truth is that the Israeli Defense Forces should be given the Nobel Peace Prize… a Nobel Peace Prize for fighting with unimaginable restraint.”

He further said that he would “not tolerate criticism of my country at a time when Israeli soldiers are dying so that innocent Palestinians can live.

Israel sends soldiers into Gaza and areas that are booby-trapped with mines in order to capture and destroy rockets and other weapons used by Hamas to attack Israel.  They choose to do this instead of launching aerial attacks because to do so would mean the loss of a great number of innocent Palestinian lives.  Israel also drops leaflets, makes phone calls, sends text messages and uses other methods to warn the population and enable civilians to evacuate the area before a strike.  The IDF has targeted buildings with non-explosive munitions as a warning to residents to evacuate the structure.  Only after seeing them vacate is the target destroyed.  Sometimes these warnings enable the terrorists to evacuate as well or allow time for Hamas to gather civilians at a targeted area, knowing that Israel will abort the attack rather than kill civilians in order to get to the terrorist. 

Hamas does the exact opposite.  They place weapon caches, rocket launchers and command centers inside civilian areas and reportedly have their command center in an underground bunker beneath a hospital.  Israel will not strike the bunker from the air since doing so would destroy the hospital and kill numerous civilians in the process.  Hamas uses ambulances to transport terrorists and fires rockets from hospitals and mosques.  Getting civilians killed is a goal of Hamas.  The more civilians, especially children, who are killed, the more propaganda they have for the media, most of whom willingly become shills for the terrorists and sometimes report children being killed as if Israel did it on purpose.  Some media outlets, such as the BBC, report casualty numbers without question, in spite of the fact that the numbers come from the Gaza health ministry, which is a Hamas-run organization.  Some pundits have decried the disparity between the number killed on both sides, seemingly saying that if more Israelis had been killed they would see that as ‘fair.’

The Times of Israel – Hamas is “doing everything to put Palestinian civilians into harm’s way – by ignoring IDF warnings to evacuate, by forcing Palestinians to serve as human shields, and by placing missile batteries next to playgrounds, hospitals and homes,” Ambassador Dermer said. “And you know why Hamas is doing this? It’s not only because of the evil they represent – and it may not be politically correct, but they are evil. After all, an organization that is capable of producing scores of suicide bombers doesn’t care a whit about Palestinian civilians losing their lives.

“But Hamas also uses its strategy of human shields because it works… Because time after time, when Palestinian civilians die, when those heart-wrenching pictures of women and children appear on television – pictures that would move any decent human being – the blame is placed on Israel and the pressure is put on Israel.”

The IDF, on the other hand, is doing everything to get Palestinian civilians out of harm’s way, said Dermer, a close confidant of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The differences in how each side conducts themselves are like night and day, but that does not stop some in the media, politicians and the United Nations from condemning Israel for civilian deaths.  The chairwoman of the UN Human Rights Council, Navi Pillay, even had the audacity to condemn Israel for not sharing the Iron Dome missile defense shield with the “governing authority” in Gaza.  And who is that governing authority?  Hamas!  The logic of sharing defensive weaponry with the very terrorists trying to kill you is just beyond me.

In spite of all these differences, there are many who still claim Israel is committing “genocide” in Gaza.  If that was true, wouldn’t there be scores more than the approximately 2,000 dead?  If Israel really wanted to commit genocide they certainly have the military capability of flattening Gaza and killing hundreds of thousands of its citizens.  But instead, Israel has continued to provide humanitarian assistance to Gaza, knowing all the while that some of it could be benefitting the very terrorists who are trying to kill Israeli citizens.  Even while under continual rocket attack, Israel has sent medical assistance into Gaza, transported wounded Palestinians to Israeli hospitals, provided millions of gallons of gas and diesel fuel, sent almost 2,800 trucks of humanitarian aid and supplies, and conducted repairs on the electrical grid, water supply, sewage and communication systems.  Yes, that certainly sounds like genocide to me.

In the history of warfare, Israel’s attempts to limit civilian casualties and provide supplies and aid to the civilians living among the enemy are unprecedented.  This ridiculous notion that I have seen put forth that there is a moral equivalence between Israel and Hamas is ignorant and anti-Semitic at best and terrorist-supporting at worst.  To claim there is a moral equivalence is to ignore the fact that Hamas has no morality, deliberately targets Israeli citizens and puts Palestinian civilians in harm’s way.  The reality of war is that civilians do get killed and despite attempts by Israel to avoid collateral damage, non-combatants will die.  In spite of the fact that Israel makes efforts to minimize civilian deaths and Hamas makes efforts to kill Israel civilians, it is Israel who is judged harshly and condemned by many.  As an IDF commander said to retired U.S. Marine General James T. Conway, “The world judges Israel differently.”

Even in the horrors of war it is possible for a nation to maintain its morality.  Israel will be condemned by some and supported by others, but the truth is that they have set a very high bar for morality in war.  One that their enemies and the countries in the world who condemn them could never hope to equal.

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2 comments to Israel: Setting the Bar High for Morality in War

  • Clearly, if Israel really didn’t care about civilian causalities, they would not be taking the route they are taking. Instead of the restraint they are showing, they would have bombed Gaza into oblivion, regardless of the consequences and the resulting death and mayhem.

    To anyone who condemns Israel for their response to Hamas, I say they should examine the facts.

    • I have read that Israeli soldiers have even been killed during ground operations that would not have been done were it not for the concern over killing civilians with an aerial attack on certain sites in Gaza. Anyone who can still condemn Israel is just showing their true colors, which is anti-Semitism. To side with terrorist butchers instead of Israel says a lot about someone.