My Turn: Hamas strategy of sacrificing civilians crime against humanity

Palestinians displaced by the Israeli air and ground offensive on the Gaza Strip walk through a makeshift tent camp in Rafah, Gaza, Friday, May 10, 2024.

Palestinians displaced by the Israeli air and ground offensive on the Gaza Strip walk through a makeshift tent camp in Rafah, Gaza, Friday, May 10, 2024. AP PHOTO/ABDEL KAREEM HANA

Palestinians search for survivors after an Israeli airstrike Sunday on a residential building in Nuseirat Refugee Camp, Gaza Strip.

Palestinians search for survivors after an Israeli airstrike Sunday on a residential building in Nuseirat Refugee Camp, Gaza Strip. AP

By JAN JEE BEAN

Published: 05-20-2024 5:17 PM

As Israel’s rockets crash into Gaza, smashing the country to rubble and crushing the population, scenes of stupefying devastation overwhelm us. We grieve the loss of innocent lives, in both Israel and Gaza. And yet, as horrifying as it is to consider, it is crucial to recognize that this appalling destruction has been designed, intentionally, to maximize civilian suffering ... by Hamas.

Hamas is betting that the world will turn around and blame Israel. They seek a wider war against the little democracy and to turn Israel’s friends against her. Placing their own civilians in harm’s way is their diabolical strategy to achieve their single-minded goal of an Islamic Palestine.

Usually, soldiers sacrifice their own lives for their cause. But Hamas sacrifices the lives of their own children (and other civilians), while hiding underneath them. According to West Point urban warfare expert, John Spencer, all 2.2 million Gazans could easily be sheltered in the tunnels Hamas has constructed. Instead of offering refuge to civilians, Hamas deliberately invites shattering of civilian life by firing rockets from residences and public buildings while hiding below, in their cruel project to persuade the world to blame the tragedy on Israel.

What if our government built a war machine below homes, schools, hospitals, and churches in which to hide soldiers and launch weapons? What if American military strategy sacrificed the lives of children so soldiers could live on to accomplish their strategic goals? What if aid money was stashed in foreign lands so our leaders could flee to luxury in Qatar while civilians incur the ultimate “gift” of martyrdom? Wouldn’t this be considered a crime against humanity?

Since Hamas fighters are embedded under, and among, Gazan civilians, the war to disarm them will inevitably (and tragically) entail the sort of suffering we now witness. But to accuse Israel of deliberately targeting civilians is grimly unfair and demonizing ... especially since targeting Israeli civilians has been Hamas’ game plan for over 15 years.

The question of how to disarm your enemy when they use the deaths of their own civilians to accomplish their goals has never been faced in modern times. How is it possible that the world demands Israel care more about Gazan civilians than Hamas does? How is it possible to demand that Israel care more about the lives of Gaza’s children than their own?

No one is morally required to leave their own child drowning in the ocean in order to save someone else’s. That is asking too much.

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Using civilians as human shields is a horrendous war crime! Shouldn’t human rights activists be protesting this as the real crime against humanity? Surely, a world where armies endanger the lives of their own civilians to achieve their goals is not a movement to endorse. This will not make the world a more peaceful place.

In exchange for a cease-fire, Hamas refuses to release 134 captive civilians. Isn’t that the outrage protesters should be decrying? Do you want the violence to end? Demand that Hamas release the hostages and come out from hiding among civilians. This would end the war immediately. Forever.

Support for Israel should not be treated as a referendum on Netanyahu, even though it is clear his policies contributed to this calamity. There is no way Netanyahu will survive the next election.

For over 25 years, Arab and Muslim leaders have instituted a campaign, using money from (mainly) wealthy Arabs and Muslim nations to twist the oppressor/victim narrative so that it implicates Israel. This plan seems to be working.

Hamas is responsible. That is what’s being lost sight of.

Social justice warriors seek to be agents of change. Shouldn’t that change be in the service of greater flourishing of humankind? Standing up on behalf of militants who oppress women, teach Mein Kempf to children, murder political opponents, kill LGBTQ folks, behead citizens who criticize their leadership, halt elections for 17 years, and relentlessly use foreign aid money to build war tunnels at the expense of civilian infrastructure, is hardly a just cause.

If you believe that war is not the answer, then surely terrorism is not, either. While we strive for the equitable and peaceful world we imagine, we must live in the world we get. If you believe that the suffering in Gaza must end, stand up against the violent Jihadism that Hamas espouses.

Israel, the only democracy in the region, needs Western support for survival. Israel, as well as Palestinians trapped by tyrants, needs you to denounce Hamas.

Jan Jee Bean lives in Greenfield.