In war against Hamas, Israel must work hard to avoid civilian casualties – Scotsman comment

Israel must try to defeat Hamas but needs to abide by the rules of war and do its best to prevent the deaths of innocent Palestinians caught up in the fighting

As Israel prepares for the next stage of its war against Hamas, the new unity government has been stressing its determination to end the terrorist threat. Benny Gantz, a centrist drafted into the emergency war cabinet, has said they are ready to “wipe this thing called Hamas off the face of the Earth”.

Attempting to militarily defeat any terrorist organisation is difficult and particularly so in Hamas’s case, as the fighters who murdered 1,400 people in Israel live among Gaza’s civilian population. As of yesterday, some 2,750 Palestinians had been killed in Israeli missile attacks, a figure that could dramatically increase if a ground invasion is launched.

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However, in stark contrast to Hamas, Israel has been giving warnings to civilians to leave ahead of attacks. Clearly, this information is useful to the terrorists, but it is both a recognition that innocent Palestinians should not pay with their lives for crimes committed by Hamas and an important signal of the values held by Israel’s democratically elected government.

It is tactically more difficult to fight a war in this way, but it is strategically important. Hamas hopes to destroy any chance of peace by provoking Israel into a response that leads to a regional conflict. So, in addition to being the right thing to do, avoiding civilian casualties is also in Israel’s national interest.

To be clear, in making this plea for restraint, we are in no way aligning The Scotsman with those who chanted “from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free” in Edinburgh over the weekend. This refers to the River Jordan and the Mediterranean and is about the destruction of Israel in its entirety – Hamas's central aim. Spouting Hamas slogans after its act of mass murder is akin to celebrating the 9/11 terrorist attacks in the US or the 7/7 bombings in London.

The right to life is universal, applying equally to Israelis and Palestinians. Terrorist movements like Hamas hold such ideas in contempt. Israel has a war to fight but should do so in a way that shows it is the antithesis of the evil death cult it aims to defeat.



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