Why Do Islamic Jihad and Hamas Fire Rockets From “Safe Zones” for Palestinian Families?

by | Oct 21, 2023 | Middle East & Israel, Terrorism

Every time a Palestinian or Israeli civilian is killed, Hamas wins. That’s why they use children and women as human shields. That’s why they boast that their civilians love death in the way Israelis love life. That is why Islamic jihad fires rockets from areas near hospitals.
Unsplash/Ash Hayes

It’s because every time a Palestinian or Israeli civilian is killed, Hamas wins.

There are three possible explanations for the explosion at the Gaza hospital. The most likely is that Islamic jihad was firing rockets from a cemetery near the hospital, using the hospital as a shield to prevent Israel from attacking the launching site, or inducing Israel to respond and endanger the hospital.

One of the rockets fired by Islamic Jihad misfired and hit the hospital parking lot, killing civilians. Israel’s evidence would seem to support this explanation, as does the long history of primitive rockets used by terrorists misfiring and landing in Gaza. That is why intelligence and the Pentagon supports Israel’s evidence.

The second but far less likely explanation is that an Israeli rocket that was aimed at a military target accidentally landed at the hospital. Israel, however, tracks its rockets with great care and has said that none were fired in the area at the time.

The least likely explanation is that the Israeli military deliberately targeted a hospital in order to cause civilian deaths. There is absolutely no reason Israel would have done this, not at any time but doubly so when President Biden was en route to Israel. Nor is it likely that Israel targeted the hospital because Hamas fighters were hiding inside. Israel’s rules of engagement preclude such targeting.

The Muslim Street and leaders immediately — immediacy being an important point — claimed or pretended to believe the least likely explanation, blaming Israel. The street was immediately filled with protesters demanding revenge. The Arab leaders also blamed Israel and canceled meetings.

To take an even more extreme hypothetical situation that no reasonable person could believe: Assume for argument’s sake the worst possible scenario, that Israel deliberately targeted the hospital, which it clearly did not. Even if it had, though, it would be no worse than what Hamas deliberately did on October 7. Both would be inexcusable and despicable.

If the evidence had proved that Israel bore some responsibility for the hospital tragedy — the opposite of what it actually shows — many Israelis would have protested their own nation, as they have in the past when Israel was to some degree responsible for bad actions, such as its failure to stop the Lebanese massacres of the Shatila and Sabra refugee camps.

There were, though, no protests — none — by the so-called Muslim Street or leaders following the Hamas barbarism. They protest only when Muslim lives are taken, not when Jewish lives are taken.

The lessons of the selective protests are that it doesn’t matter much what Israel does. It matters more what Israel is: The nation state of the Jewish people. To those who don’t want Israel to exist, it can do no right, or it can be totally innocent of accusations that it did wrong. Its enemies can do no wrong, regardless of the brutality of their proved actions.

This doesn’t mean that Israel should not try to do right, as it generally does. It means that it should not be influenced by the false morality and double standards of its enemies, whether they be Hamas, the Muslim Street, its leaders, the United Nations or Harvard students. Israel’s own high standards of morality should govern the actions it takes to protect its citizens.

Every time a Palestinian or Israeli civilian is killed, Hamas wins. That’s why they use children and women as human shields. That’s why they boast that their civilians love death in the way Israelis love life. That is why Islamic jihad fires rockets from areas near hospitals.

That is why Hamas fires rockets from areas declared to be safe zones for Palestinian families, putting Israel to the choice of allowing rocket attacks on its civilians or firing back into areas where civilians may be serving as shields.

Even if Israel had no morality, it would not benefit from the death of Palestinian civilians. Yet it has a high level of morality that exceeds the established rules of war. Military experts have said that no nation faced with comparable threats operates with a higher concern for civilian lives. One can only wish Israel’s enemies had similar concern.

Alan Dershowitz is professor emeritus at Harvard Law School and the author of “Get Trump,” “Guilt by Accusation” and “The Price of Principle.” Active in litigation, writing, and defense of civil liberties and human rights. Visit his substack and follow him at @AlanDersh.

The views expressed above represent those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the editors and publishers of Capitalism Magazine. Capitalism Magazine sometimes publishes articles we disagree with because we think the article provides information, or a contrasting point of view, that may be of value to our readers.

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