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 11:14 AM
Updated: May 17, 2018 11:14 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.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 51612

Reported Deaths: 2760
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion12074693
Lake5650249
Elkhart361860
Allen2952134
St. Joseph214869
Hamilton1708101
Cass16459
Hendricks1466100
Johnson1345118
Porter84038
Tippecanoe7799
Vanderburgh7686
Clark71144
Madison67864
LaPorte62328
Howard60758
Bartholomew60145
Kosciusko5824
Marshall5579
Noble52028
Boone49144
LaGrange48610
Jackson4783
Delaware47552
Hancock46836
Shelby45925
Floyd41444
Monroe34828
Morgan34531
Grant32226
Dubois3096
Montgomery29820
Henry29618
Clinton2903
White27610
Dearborn26523
Warrick26129
Vigo2588
Decatur25632
Lawrence25225
Harrison21822
Greene19632
Miami1942
Jennings17912
Putnam1738
DeKalb1694
Scott1659
Wayne1586
Daviess15117
Perry14910
Steuben1382
Orange13723
Jasper1362
Ripley1347
Franklin1288
Gibson1242
Wabash1163
Carroll1142
Starke1083
Whitley1076
Fayette1067
Newton10110
Huntington942
Jefferson872
Wells821
Randolph804
Fulton731
Jay720
Knox710
Washington681
Pulaski661
Clay645
Rush623
Posey610
Spencer571
Owen521
Benton510
Sullivan501
Adams491
Brown431
Blackford402
Fountain362
Crawford330
Switzerland320
Tipton321
Parke270
Martin260
Ohio230
Vermillion200
Warren151
Union140
Pike120
Unassigned0193

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 65592

Reported Deaths: 3058
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Franklin12035447
Cuyahoga9208399
Hamilton6950208
Lucas3007306
Marion274839
Montgomery251336
Summit2351209
Pickaway222741
Mahoning1948239
Butler186347
Columbiana138560
Stark1225116
Lorain115269
Trumbull105378
Warren100926
Clark81610
Delaware72415
Fairfield69217
Lake60923
Tuscarawas60910
Medina58932
Licking58312
Belmont57024
Miami51031
Portage50260
Clermont4977
Wood49451
Ashtabula44844
Geauga42843
Richland3786
Wayne37355
Allen36641
Greene3469
Mercer30210
Erie28622
Holmes2615
Darke25926
Huron2472
Madison2229
Ottawa19324
Sandusky16915
Athens1671
Ross1483
Washington14620
Coshocton1424
Putnam14215
Crawford1415
Hardin12312
Morrow1211
Jefferson1152
Auglaize1114
Muskingum1041
Union1021
Preble911
Clinton892
Monroe8917
Hancock861
Lawrence860
Guernsey813
Hocking819
Williams762
Shelby754
Logan711
Scioto710
Carroll703
Ashland682
Fulton670
Brown631
Wyandot635
Champaign551
Fayette550
Knox551
Defiance543
Highland531
Van Wert491
Perry461
Seneca412
Henry350
Paulding320
Jackson300
Pike290
Adams261
Vinton232
Gallia211
Harrison141
Noble140
Meigs130
Morgan110
Unassigned00
Fort Wayne
Clear
61° wxIcon
Hi: 86° Lo: 63°
Feels Like: 61°
Angola
Clear
57° wxIcon
Hi: 84° Lo: 63°
Feels Like: 57°
Huntington
Clear
58° wxIcon
Hi: 85° Lo: 62°
Feels Like: 58°
Decatur
Clear
59° wxIcon
Hi: 85° Lo: 64°
Feels Like: 59°
Van Wert
Clear
59° wxIcon
Hi: 86° Lo: 63°
Feels Like: 59°
Warmer Tuesday
WFFT Radar
WFFT Temperatures
WFFT National

Community Events