Response to EI article (Electronic Intifada)

(The below is a response which was meant to go into the comment section of an article on Electronic Intifada, but I decided to put it here since it was too long to go into a single comment and preferred not to post it in multiple ones. It concerns the position of Israel in the Syrian conflict as covered in the article)

I think Israel’s position has been far more nuanced and balanced than has often been made clear. When it states “ Israel has no horse in the Syrian conflict”, that is a simplification since it assumes passivity.  Remember however that it also claimed that it didn’t have a horse in Iran-Iraq, even whilst it supported Iran (Iran-Contra affair), and even though the reality was that it didn’t like either (except if one goes into the conspiracy theory territory of Iran and Israel being the best of friends beneath the surface). Let us not forget either that Israel supported Hamas in the 80s. It is not alien for Israel to support its would-be enemies for short-term benefit. However, the scale of the support must always be examined, and the scale is never to empower these enemies, but to allow them to harm other enemies who may be at a stronger position at that point in time (and themselves in the process).

A few recent developments should be noted at the get-go; Israel has recently coming out threatening the Nusra Front, and there is a lot talk of military intervention to protect the Syrian Druze flying around in Israeli media (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/israel/11681860/Israel-threatens-military-intervention-in-Syrias-civil-war.html / http://www.jpost.com/Arab-Israeli-Conflict/Israel-sends-message-to-Nusra-Front-Cease-attacks-on-Syrias-Druse-406183). Secondly and more importantly, it has come out (and been overwhelmingly ignored) that Israel saved the Assad regime from airstrikes in 2013 by the US, in which the deal where the regime would give up its chemical stockpile in exchange for being spared from attack was in fact its proposal, which it said it kept quiet until released in the memoirs of an Israeli minister a few days ago (http://www.bloombergview.com/articles/2015-06-15/israel-helped-obama-skirt-red-line-on-syria / ) . It is quite surprising that this has not been mentioned more widely, not least considering the controversy a title such as ‘Israel saved Bashar Al-Assad’ would create.

Regarding the article, there’s a few things to address. Firstly, Israel has treated anyone coming out of the Golan, it is part of its propaganda campaigns that then allows Netenyahu to proclaim it loudly. It has also said that it has treated Syrian army soldiers, although it is likely that more opposition fighters cross into Israel because they lack the medical facilities that the Syrian army has (also there are more opposition fighters in the area). It also makes sense that the majority of those are fighters, since civilians have probably fled the fighting areas. Israel has also routinely treated Palestinian victims of its bombings in Gaza for PR value, including Hamas fighters (http://www.breakingisraelnews.com/18745/idf-opens-field-hospital-treat-wounded-palestinians/#GQEOVCvEqg81aTya.97 / https://www.standwithus.com/news/article.asp?id=1671 / http://www.timesofisrael.com/once-inside-israels-hospitals-the-terrorist-becomes-the-patient/ /.

Secondly; ultimately the fact that Israel would like two sides to destroy each other is not that surprising, from day one of the uprising we have said that would be Israel’s policy, and that it would ultimately actually prefer Assad to come out on top. The fact that Israel would support (with very limited support it should be made clear) those fighting a historical enemy in Hezbollah is not that surprising either, Hezbollah is well-armed, rebels aren’t, and so it creates a balance of power. But neither does this even mean that Israel would prefer rebels to come out on top in this conflict against Hezbollah, rather it just wants Hezbollah to be hurt. For if it wanted Hezbollah to be *defeated* it had a golden opportunity to hit Hezbollah at its weakest most distracted point a few months ago when a flare-up happened. This would have put so much national pressure on Hezbollah (its invasion in Syria is unpopular even amongst many of its supporters) that it would have had to reroute its energies to defending Lebanon rather than helping Assad. But both sides let each other know that this was not their intention to escalate, and no escalation happened. If Israel wanted to give Hezbollah a decisive blow it would’ve hit it there and then, it was the opportune strategic moment. But instead it left it alone even when its soldiers got killed in a retaliatory attack by Hezbollah (after the airstrike against the IRG-Hezbollah convoy). Since when does Israel not take an excuse to respond to such ‘provocations’, regardless of whether it initiated them or not? In a different situation it would’ve bombed the s**t out of Lebanon, but it didn’t.

Meanwhile why Israel would strike those in the first place is really a straight-forward matter, if you have an opportunity to give your opponents a few slaps whilst they’re down then you do, but when Hezbollah responded it made a very pragmatic choice not to escalate (which is what Hezbollah also wanted). Israel also often attacked Egypt even after the Camp David accords, not because it wanted the collapse of the regime, but because it can, it’s what Israel does. That didn’t mean however that it would not back that regime if it came under internal threat.

Ultimately all this is in keeping with the US-Israeli position (although there are some variances between them) throughout this conflict, which has been to maintain a balance of power, or in other words a balance of destruction between the two sides. The US has routinely, contrary to popular myth, blocked rather than facilitated military supplies to the opposition, and has also bombed major factions which were both anti-ISIS and anti-Assad, both mainstream and extremist (Islamic Front and Nusra Front – it should be kept in mind that a massive number of those fighters are pragmatic not ideological ones, in other words their natural place would be in the FSA if it had better funding, and this is of course something known by the US – http://www.aljazeera.com/news/middleeast/2014/11/us-led-air-raids-target-syria-rebel-groups-2014116123052671427.html / http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/11/06/us-strikes-ahrar-al-sham-syria_n_6113772.html). Israel has traditionally not done so because it does not want to appear on the same side of a regime it has repeatedly used to deflect attention from itself, and would hurt it in PR terms a lot.

Yet, now that ISIS has risen Israel has shifted a lot its propaganda focus from Assad onto ‘Islamic militarism’, and whilst it has facilitated that to a small extent (as it did when it essentially formed Hamas in the 80s), it can now come out and threaten rebels clearly without fear of appearing on the same side as Assad (as it has recently done), since popular conception has shifted towards him (something which could be seen even in comments here) and there is less ‘tainting’ of being aligned with Assad than being aligned with the Islamist-influenced opposition (which has been bundled together as ‘ISIS’, regardless of the reality of the conflict between them). Israel is not unique in this regard and if there was one single party that has consistently bolstered the rise of ISIS in Syria it has been the regime (most recently as highlighted by Al-Monitor today – http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2015/06/syria-aleppo-regime-army-assad-support-isis-marea-tlalin.html).

Most recently it has emerged that the US has asked that a chosen thousand number of rebels chosen for a training program sign a declaration not to fight Assad; they refused and withdrew from the program (http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4670483,00.html / http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2015/05/31/key-rebels-ready-to-quit-u-s-fight-vs-isis.html. This US policy has not been a change, it has always requested that the handful of rebels (numbering in hundreds) that it started providing limited support in 2014 fight ISIS rather than Assad (http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/09/11/syrian-rebels-we-ll-use-u-s-weapons-to-fight-assad-whether-obama-likes-it-or-not.html / / http://news.yahoo.com/syria-rebels-cast-doubt-us-training-program-173500650.html), but it has rarely come out and put in so blatantly as it has as in asking to sign a contract.

I also disagree with the statement that Israel finds the Shia Islamists more threatening than the Sunni ones (I don’t speak of ISIS when I speak of the Sunni Islamists, which, as a leader of the Islamic Front in Syria said, ‘if it had an opportunity to go to Palestine it would attack Hamas before it attacked Israel’ – there is possibly more than 100,000 self-describing ‘Islamists’ (i.e. those who identify as Muslim politically), and the vast majority of them despise ISIS). If that were the case it would have facilitated Assad’s collapse, it has done nothing of the sort and restricted its interventions to very limited number of strikes targeting things that could be of military benefit to Hezbollah. In so doing it has actually allowed Iran to gain a ever tighter foothold in Syria with the influx of allied militias and the weakening of the Syrian army, which combined has now allowed Iran to have a stranglehold on the Syrian state.

Israel’s biggest worry and the closest point it came to intervention in this conflict (before now) was when there was prospect that chemical weapons would drop into rebel hands. Israel never feared that Assad would use them, after all he never did (and never would). It wasn’t when Hezbollah or Iran flocked into the country in the thousands. As a Syrian friend told me, Assad saved himself when he gave away his chemical weapons, which were not his to give away but brought from the money of the people. Regardless of the fact that I am no fan of chemical weapons, the fact remains that it was a threat to Israel that was sacrificed with as it turns out, Israel’s coordination. Israel did not want Assad hit, it wanted Assad to lose his chemicals out of fear of them dropping into unfriendly hands. We should not think that mass-murderers have some kind of moral problem with one another, they just allow them to divert focus from each other. This is why as it turned out that Israel saved Assad.

Ultimately all this should not divert from the reasons and values of why we support the Palestinians, which is a rejection of the type of things that Israel does, from bombing, population cleansing, starvation, arbitrary arrests and torture. We do not dislike Israel because they are Jews but because of what we have grown up seeing them do to our brethren. Ultimately when we see the same thing happen to our brethren, whether in Iraq, Syria or Egypt (where I’m from) we feel the same sympathy. Palestine will be an ever-present issue in our lives so long as its occupied, even if it takes second place from time to time behind more pressing catastrophes occurring at that period such as in Iraq or Syria, it will always be a constant.

Thus whilst Syria should not distract from Palestine as this is what Israel wants and would allow its ethnic cleansing to go ahead unimpeded, neither should our attention be diverted to such an extent from the fact that there has been no regime that has come close to representing Israel’s than Assad’s. He comes second to Israel in the number of Palestinians he has killed. He has tortured more Palestinians to death than Israel could ever hope to do (http://beyondcompromise.com/2014/09/19/faces-of-our-dead-photos-of-the-palestinians-tortured-to-death-by-syrian-regime/). He has employed exactly the same tactics of starvation of civilian areas under the excuse of them being ‘held hostage by terrorists’; indeed his opponents have had to dig tunnels to try and circumvent those sieges (and those tunnels been labelled ‘terrorist’ tunnels). He has carpet-bombed civilian areas to the ground for four years unimpeded. It has stopped people returning to its homes (such as the famous uprising Baba Amr neighbourhood in Homs). For the past four years we have watched Syrian women and men scream in cameras ‘where are the Arabs? Where are the Muslims’ with rubble behind them in exactly the same way that they do in Gaza. If Zionism did not mean ‘Jewish nationalism’ Assad’s state would be the archetypal example of its Arab form.

The fact remains that Hezbollah is now knees-deep in Palestinian blood, and I would like it if such outlets like EI are brave enough to call it and Iran on its betrayal of the Palestinian people, and call on it to put their actions where their mouths are, how can they be pro-Palestinian when they refuse to take off sieges of Palestinians, which according to someone who has recently visited Yarmouk and previously Gaza, has been multiple times worse than Gaza? Through doing this campaign and put pressure on it to stop the regime starving and torturing the Palestinians under its mercy (to say nothing about the Syrians).

[Let us also not forget that Assad and Israel were on the verge of completing a peace treaty which would have been Obama’s legacy in 2011 (he now has the Iran deal as his legacy), a peace treaty in which Assad said he was willing to stop supporting Hamas and this was interrupted actually by the uprising, and have enjoyed trade deals through the Syrian Druze that Israel is now using as a precursor to intervene due to their links with the Israeli Druze, for many years (http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Middle-East/2013/0921/Assad-harvests-support-from-Druze-in-Israel-with-apples) – as has, for that matter, Iran (http://foreignpolicy.com/2008/04/07/has-israel-been-buying-iranian-oil/ / http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4075900,00.html).]

The failure of the Palestine solidarity movement in the West to follow the lead of the Palestinian movement inside Syria, the vast majority of whom oppose the government despite the costs, in offering solidarity to the Syrian uprising or at least the victims of the situation, is something that will be remembered badly in history, although there is still time to change course. (http://beyondcompromise.com/2014/01/23/declaration-of-a-shared-fate/ http://beyondcompromise.com/2014/01/18/while-you-were-neutral-about-yarmouk/).

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Would it be better if Hamas had a ‘conventional’ army?

There is an intuitive image of Hamas that many people share as much more worse than a ‘conventional’ army would be in their place because of their tactics (i.e. throwing unguided rockets), when in reality its tactics (regardless of normative judgments) are not worse than their alternatives. Ironically, if Hamas had a conventional army and pretended to talk like Israel about wanting to avoid civilians and dropping them leaflets, would one assume that people would be more relaxed about this ‘new look’ of theirs, rather than the more visually disconcerting image of them throwing unguided rockets, even if it meant they killed more Israelis?

A friend of mine (incidentally one of the most people I respect, a member of the Jewish community who has incurred many problems for his anti-Israel views – but he also felt I did not talk about Hamas enough) recently came to me with ‘evidence’ of Hamas firing a rocket from a residential Gaza area, telling me that ‘civilian embedding’ is a real thing. But of course its a real thing, for as many have undoubtedly already heard by now ‘Gaza is an extremely densely populated area’ and hardly has any open space (a fact incidentally emphasised by the footage, a very cramped area with hardly any open space in view). Neither have I ever claimed that Hamas fires only from military/government installments or military areas – nor do I think many else do for that matter; there is hardly any space for ‘military areas’ in Gaza while ‘military installments’ and government facilities are the first targets and generally get destroyed straight away, meaning that they do not have the capacity to use them. What some have claimed rather, including the notoriously pro-Palestinian New York Times (heavy dose of sarcasm), is that there has been no evidence that Hamas has used ‘human shields’ in the legal meaning of the word; i.e. to hold civilians hostage by forcing them to stay in an area under attack to allow them to fight from ‘behind’ them. So the video didn’t show me anything particularly new or surprising. As a Palestinian friend recently put it to me, ‘In Gaza if you stretch out both your arms one of them will probably hit something’ (an exaggeration, but you get the jist).

Meanwhile, in Israel’s unique and customary fashion of (projected) morose irony, it has recently surfaced that it is in fact the Zionist state which has again explicitly used human shields in its current massacre in Gaza. Nor is this novel for Israel; in 2005 it emerged in an Israeli court that Israel had made use of Human shields an astonishing number of 1,200 times between the years 2000-2005, and this has continued ever since (see here, here, here, and here; and there’s quite a bit of footage on Youtube as well). But let us move on.

Let us talk now in purely military-strategic terms regardless of normative considerations of the military reality Hamas faces today and how it differs from that it encountered in the past. Israeli attacks today tend to overwhelmingly take the form of airstrikes, blockades of the borders, etc. rather than actual ground occupation by Israeli troops of the territory as was the case in the past (which would make troops an obvious target, the reason I believe they ultimately decided to withdraw to effect a less costly yet arguably just as effective occupation). Now in strategic terms the fact that Hamas are generally unable to respond directly to an Israeli attack or strike – for example by targeting an airplane with a anti-aircraft missile or reciprocating by flying its own over Israel – along with the fact that Hamas cannot operate a conventional war (i.e. have its own facilities/military installments or centres which it can protect and use, as mentioned above, as well as obviously the lack of an army or military equipment) leaves them with three main options, a) that they try to infilitrate Israel to attack troops/military installations on the other side (and they get equally blamed and termed ‘terror tunnels’ when they do so), b) that they try to infiltrate to carry out suicide bombings etc. inside Israel, and c) that they fire rockets. The first option has been used but is obviously very difficult to carry out, due to strong Israeli military capabilities, intelligence, border controls, etc.. The second option has stopped being used due to international condemnation, leaving the third option as generically the only viable way of issuing some form of military response. Incidentally there is a myth (an ironic one at that) that having a conventional army/airforce is in a way a good thing, and that Hamas’s unconventional missiles is much worse. The fact is that had Hamas had a conventional military the civilian casualties on Israel’s side would be multiple-folds what they are now!

Some will say ‘Oh but at least they wouldn’t be trying to target civilians as opposed to their indiscriminate rocket fire’, yet the idea that conventional armies do not target civilians is a myth! But lets leave that aside for a second; even going along with the argument that its less morally ‘wrong’ to target another country’s populated areas with conventional militaries rather than unconventional guerrillas because of the different ‘intent’ (i.e. lets accept the premise that with the former ‘civilian casualties are not intentional targets’) – the fact is that the overwhelming evidence of a century that ‘conventional’ bombings of populated areas are incredibly more costly in terms of civilian lives than ‘unconventional’ ones means that regardless of ‘intent’ the sheer consistent *outcome* of so many more innocent deaths means that it is actually much more morally *worse* to continue doing so! In other words, if you’re targeting an area with an F-16 airstrike, even presumably with nebulous intentions of trying to avoid civilian casualties, against targeting an area with a rocket intending civilian casualties; the overwhelming historical (and contemporary) evidence that the former will still ultimately result in much more innocent casualties than the latter means that the consistently means-tested end-result of greater innocent deaths if ignored renders it *morally worse*.

This is of course merely a hypothetical for those who hold that view, it is a myth that ‘generically’ conventional militaries do not ‘intend’ civilian casualties any more than non-state actors (or at least try to apply more caution); it it not true that with a conventional army ‘at least you’re not trying to intentionally target civilians’; when has this been the case? This is an absolute fiction, the historical evidence from the last century of offensive wars show that practically every single army that launches airstrikes on cities know – and moreover *intends* for there to be civilian casualties, because they see that as a necessary part of what war entails (killing civilians is a massive damage to the government which is unable to protect them, hence it is ’emasculated’ in comparative terms and much weakens its authority) and *just as relevant* to it as targeting military forces.

What’s the point of me saying all this? Well because there is an intuitive image of Hamas that many people share as infinitely much more worse than a ‘conventional’ army would be in their place, because of their tactics (i.e. throwing rockets), when its tactics (regardless of normative judgments) are not worse than their alternatives. Ironically, if Hamas had a conventional army and pretended to talk like Israel about wanting to avoid civilians and dropping them leaflets, would people be more relaxed about them, rather than the more visually disconcerting image of them throwing unguided rockets, even if it meant they killed more Israelis?

Ultimately regardless of one’s own views on Hamas, they are not exceptional in terms of guerilla tactics nor are they that different from other guerrilla groups which have historically operated within civilian areas (that’s not to say that they are necessarily right in everything they did either); look at the Algerian resistance to the French, they operated in populated areas as well and hid amongst civilians (and targeted French settlers). With guerrilla movements generally there is often no clear ‘military-civilian’ dichotomy as the (civilian) community tends to support the resistance (of whichever form). The Fourth Geneva Convention gives an occupied people the right to resistance – with force of arms if necessary – against an occupied power to achieve self-determination. While this does not entail the wording of ‘targeting of civilians’, it does entail the wording of ‘war’; ultimately therefore it comes down to whether it is preferable for Hamas (or any other Palestinian armed group) to carry out this resistance through locally-made rockets or a conventional army with modern-day bombs, missiles and tank-shells. Would that be more comforting for those who cite Hamas’s ‘indiscriminate’ rocket attacks as an incomparably exceptional evil? Presuming that the answer to this would be the obvious ‘no’, and presuming that the option for violent resistance is say still chosen (as it is entitled to be under international law), the legitimacy of Hamas’s military tactic of throwing rockets in the complex setting of Gaza thus comes down to whether doing so is something the civilians of that area accept and are behind, as opposed to them doing so when the civilians are against it.

Again, this is separate from any normative judgement entailing me ‘relishing’ that Hamas should throw rockets, what I am saying is that this is the objective reality regardless of what I think of Hamas. Is it a pleasant situation? No, it is not. And this is why we must put the onus on Israel, because in human terms they have left the blockaded, hungered, imprisoned and massacred people in Gaza, who have nonetheless still not lost their natural human sensibilities (anger, justice, etc.), with two choices; either they do not respond at all to Israel (which would require on their part either immense self-restraint or that their will has finally been broken – with God’s will this will not happen) and continue with their slow-death, or they do so in the form they are doing now (unless it can find a more efficient military strategy to attack Israeli forces inside Israel, a difficult task considering the restrictions. again, would people prefer if they had an airforce?) Considering the amount of hell they’re living in and considering the amount of anger and feeling of nothing to lose, is the first option realistic (yet alone just) for everyone to accept these constant massacres with no hope of justice, with the best they can hope for being a (routinely-violated) ceasefire and the continuation of a slower death? This is why we put the onus on Israel, because as opposed to most guerilla liberation movements which have their faults and are often engaged in controversial things (look at the ANC during the 1980s), the ultimate source of the problem, as always, remains the colonising occupier who is attempting to wipe a people off the face of their map, and has forced them along with everyone else into this situation. And until the oppressed are liberated from their oppression, we are tied to them by our humanitarian bonds for justice.

On Gaza and ‘Human Shields’

Even the NY Times (the NY Times!) cannot prove Israel’s justification of  ‘Hamas using human shields’ for the massacre being undertaken in Gaza:

“There is no evidence that Hamas and other militants force civilians to stay in areas that are under attack — the legal definition of a human shield under international law”

Hamas are not angels and are pretty much like every other guerilla movement fighting for liberation (e.g. the ANC and Mandela too used to bomb white civilians in South Africa, as did the Algerian FLN and various other anti-colonial liberation movements, the IRA, etc.), they use questionable tactics and although the UN did not pin-point any group specifically, leaving room to suggest it might have been other militants (Hamas have denied the allegation), it has been alleged that they have used schools to store weapons (it is of course still against international law to target civic facilities but regardless). Yet the vast majority of deaths have come from bombing residential areas and family homes, whereby in this campaign alone there have been at least 3 examples which I’ve heard of (one of them personally on a Palestine march in London) of entire families perishing in single strikes, and whereby there is countless testimony by normal civilians that their (now-destroyed) homes had no weapons inside them.

Now how can it be that an army with such advanced capacities as the IDF can be so inaccurate and can so so so consistently repeat the same ‘mistakes’ in the same offensive, yet alone from one offensive to another?! For we have literally seen the EXACT same bombing of family homes in Lebanon (infamously the two ‘Qanas’) and Gaza yet the same excuse is brought that this was a ‘mistake’, how?? I can just imagine that Israel is pissing itself laughing that people still believe these excuses that they’ve offered for exactly the same type of ‘incidents’ which are repeated every two years!! They have LITERALLY bombed children on the beach exactly before, yet people still accept when it happens this time that it is a ‘mistake?’ How is it that Israel has so often ‘mistakenly’ targeted family homes and wiped out entire families? How can such a ‘mistake’ with EXACTLY the same details be repeated this often? The answer for why these similarities occur therefore is not because it is ‘simply a mistake’ but it is the same type of outcome which will happen from routine indiscriminate bombing! (even with the now improved warning system of evacuation within 3 minutes).

This is emphasised by the fact that in this campaign alone, according to the UN more than 80% of the deaths have been civilians, not militants! The fact therefore is that this is not ‘collateral damage’ or ‘mistakes’ as the Israelis like to put it but COLLECTIVE PUNISHMENT resulting from indiscriminate bombing! Hamas fires upon Israel from an extremely densely populated area where there is literally almost no open space. To ‘equalise’ the responsibility of those deaths between those dropping the bombs on one of the most densely populated areas in the world, with where Hamas stashes its weapons, is incongruous.

Incidentally, if these operations were truly about stopping the rocket fire, the best and easiest way to do so is to immediately launch a ground invasion and not spend two to three weeks launching airstrikes (testing all types of new weapons with each offensive), before finally launching a (short invasion and then retreating).

The warmonger Ariel Sharon, one of the most bloodthirsty Israeli prime ministers of all time, did not make the decision to withdraw from Gaza because he was a lover of peace, seeing that he was one of the most aggressive prime ministers Israel ever had. He made the decision to withdraw from Gaza because of the (ingenious) strategic value in doing so: a) it garnered massive support and sympathy from the int’l community, b) it allowed the replacement of settlements in Gaza with the expansion of settlements into the West Bank (ultimately seen as much more important), and c) it allowed a more effective and less costly (politically, economically and in terms of military losses) control of Gaza which would (counter-intuitively) actually strengthen Zionist militarism within Israel (one only needs to see how much more militant and right wing Israel is now as opposed to 2005). In an ingenious stroke it allowed Gaza to continue to be occupied (and more cheaply without the cost of administration) without it actually *seen* to be occupied, for the withdrawal of Israeli troops gave the impression to the majority of people that Gaza was no longer occupied – even though under international law Gaza is still considered to be under occupation because of the siege, albeit without ground troops – this point is often forgotten even by pro-Palestinians (showing how effective that strategy was).

Until today there is a reason Israel takes a long time to invade Gaza (and when it does why it never stays there too long), and that is that they made the strategic calculation that as tempting as it is to keep occupying that land (it is inherent within the expansionist nature of Zionism – and one day they might one day resuccumb to it), strategically it is more trouble than its worth to actually have troops occupying it when they can instead have a useful, restricted enemy exercising nominal authority and providing a bete noire to counterbalance against their policies, without posing too much of a practical threat (but enough to ensure fear amongst the populace). It is indeed quite genius.

It is a logical fallacy that this is all about rockets when Israel has bombed the shit out of Gaza 3 times since 2008 and in NONE of these times has it stopped rocket fire. Israel knows that the slight disadvantages (for e.g. economic) of having the threat of largely-ineffective rocket fire (especially ineffective now with the iron dome) are much smaller than the benefits of having a scared population which would allow the continued militarisation of society and ever more aggressive policies towards the Palestinians to become more acceptable to the public who feel under threat. The reason Israel launches prolonged massive airstrikes therefore, despite the fact that the vast majority of those who are killed are not militants and despite the fact that they do not stop rocket fire, is not merely to stop the rocket fire but because it seeks to *punish* the Palestinians, for if Israel truly wanted to stop rocket fire it would immediately invade the territory after it gets attacked rather than wait for such a long time (alternatively of course it would end the siege, but lets be realistic). The fact that this is not obvious actually beggars belief.

Now going back to Hamas and ‘human shields’, although they have been found to be storing weapons in civic facilities, in so far as having the accusation of them deliberately using ‘human shields’ attributed to them whereby they actually force residents to stay in target areas to hide behind (which is the legal definition of ‘human shield’), there has been no evidence for this whatsoever. Indeed, it seems obvious that if this were the case we would not have seen a massive exodus from North into South Gaza!!

In conclusion the fact is that there has been little evidence that Hamas has been engaging in using ‘human shields’ so manifestly that it can have attributed to it a major responsibility for the deaths, and this is why even pro-Israeli outlets such as the NY Times and CNN are being unable to determinatively prove that for Israel. We’ve heard the ‘human shields’ buzzline for years, and yet for years we’ve seen such little evidence for its existence (beyond a nominal level which does not suffice to equate between the responsibilities), and the vast majority of that claim has been rhetoric by the IDF.

Finally, of course there is an irony: although of course this by itself is not determinitive it is nonetheless interesting; has anyone actually ever seen footage of Hamas fighters for example hiding behind Palestinian civilians in combat? Because I have looked and failed to fine such footage (it is seen in their culture to be a cowardly thing to do), and where that has been claimed it was found to be a hoax. The irony here of course lies in that on the other hand, we have repeatedly seen videos and footage of Israel using ‘human shields’; indeed in the current conflict in Gaza it has recently surfaced that Israel has again explicitly used human shields in its current massacre in Gaza. Nor is this novel for the Zionist state; in 2005 it emerged in an Israeli court that Israel had made use of Human shields an astonishing number of 1,200 times between the years 2000-2005, and this has continued ever since, including in the form of UN reports (see here, here, here, and here; and there’s quite a bit of footage on Youtube as well).

(More videos: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CO5qhvbiQgM
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FjEd4hJNVCE
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cafUGDZlZx8
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=16TW0ereUUI etc.)

Those who live in glass houses should not throw stones. Those who have their houses destroyed can throw whatever they want.