The ‘Better’ Civilians of Gaza

by | Apr 19, 2024 | Middle East & Israel

All in all, the number of absolutely innocent Gazans — babies, children and adults who are not complicit in Hamas crimes — is a fraction of those claimed by Israel's enemies, including so-called human rights groups.

“The crimes committed by the Germans are horrible and one hears on every corner of the misery and losses they have intentionally brought over the peoples. The strangest thing is that even the better people among the Germans are not conscious of their heavy responsibility for all these crimes committed by the government they have chosen themselves, and that the outside world is rather inclined to forget about it.”

Those words were written by Albert Einstein on September 16, 1945, shortly after the end of World War II, in a letter I was fortunate enough to acquire.

That letter could have been written to the so-called innocent adult civilians in Gaza. They too bear “a heavy responsibility for all these crimes committed by the government they have chosen themselves.” They elected Hamas and, according to recent polls, continue to support it and would vote for those terrorists again.

Some are more responsible than others. Consider, for example, the civilians who followed the terrorists into Israel on October 7. These civilians captured a nurse named Nili Margalit, forcibly transported her to Gaza after murdering other Israelis who were hiding in a shelter. When those civilians returned to Gaza, they displayed her to the “jubilant crowds” of civilians who cheered her civilian kidnappers.

Other Gazan civilians were not as directly complicit in Hamas’s murders, rapes, beheadings and kidnappings, but they made these crimes possible by spying for Hamas when they were given employment by the Israeli kibbutzim. In one notorious case, a peace activist named Vivian Silver was hiding in her safe room, which the terrorists quickly identified, then burned her alive. She had earlier helped Gazan civilians to receive medical attention in Israeli hospitals, and invited them to her home. It is likely that these civilians pinpointed the location of her home to the terrorists.

Other Gazan civilians permitted their homes to be used to hide and launch rockets, while still others allowed their children to be used as human shields. Some civilians are apparently hiding or helping to hide hostages. Many are providing financial and logistical support.
Among the so-called innocent “civilians” who Hamas claims have been killed by Israel, there are thousands of guilty and complicit civilians without whose assistance Hamas could not have succeeded in their barbarisms.

Innocence and complicity are matters of degree, especially when terrorists are supported by so much of the population. It is hard to shed tears if the “civilians” who kidnapped and sold Margalit were among the collateral damage. It is not hard to shed tears for completely innocent babies and young children, especially if they were used as human shields.

In the film The Accused, a woman played by Jodie Foster is raped in a crowded bar. The actual rapists are the most guilty. The men who pinned her down and those who blocked her from escaping were criminal accessories. Those who cheered on the rapists were morally if not legally complicit, as were those who could easily have called the police to intervene but failed to do so.

The same is true of many of the civilians of Gaza. Even if not technically combatants, they are complicit in the Hamas murders, rapes and kidnappings.

When Hamas provides its self-serving numbers of those allegedly killed by Israel, they refuse to distinguish between combatants and civilians. They certainly do not identify complicit “civilians,” nor do they indicate how many were killed by the “friendly fire” of Hamas and other terrorist groups, whose rockets routinely misfire and land within Gaza. In a deliberate effort to mislead, Hamas instead purports to list the number of women and children who have been killed. But they include terrorists under the age of 19 as “children” and female terrorists as “women.”
All in all, the number of absolutely innocent Gazans — babies, children and adults who are not complicit in Hamas crimes — is a fraction of those claimed by Israel’s enemies, including so-called human rights groups.

It is time for a thorough and objective investigation of the actual status of all those allegedly killed by Israeli military actions. The results will show that Israel has achieved a remarkably low and unheard of ratio of combatants and complicit civilians to innocent civilians. The Israelis have killed far fewer innocent civilians—both in absolute and proportional numbers— than any nation in the history of fighting terrorism in urban areas.

Einstein would have understood that even many — though not all — of the “innocent civilians” of Gaza, like the “better people among the Germans,” bear “heavy responsibility” for the crimes of Hamas.

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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