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Hamas is playing for time The Israeli offensive won't be held up long

The wait is taking its toll. Marcus Yam/Los Angeles Times

The wait is taking its toll. Marcus Yam/Los Angeles Times


October 26, 2023   4 mins

Hamas leaders know that once the Israeli counter-offensive starts, they will lose their greatest asset: their inter-connected tunnels. This vast warren conceals the vital operations for the manufacture, storage and launch of their rockets, and shieldsheadquarters and rest areas from detection and air strikes. So big is the network, it has been nicknamed the Underground, after London’s.

The discovery that Hamas was going all out to build these tunnels marked the start of the Israeli army’s education in the arcane art of finding, conquering (“clearing” is reductive) and quickly demolishing them. But tunnel warfare, it swiftly discovered, is not for amateurs. Nor is it even for highly accomplished but generic “commandos” including its top echelon Sayeret Matkal. It requires specific detection and monitoring skills, ultra close-combat skills and weapons (even compact assault rifles are too long), specialised shields and respirators, as well as the very quick reactions that all first-rate soldiers must have.

Hamas knows from previous experience that the closer the range, the greater the qualitative gap between their men and first-line Israeli infantry; Arik Sharon, who ended up as Prime Minister after a brilliant military career, discovered back in the Fifties that Israelis had the edge in close combat. Even in Hamas’s hyper-successful surprise raids, that took full advantage of Israel’s grossly over-confident reliance on high-tech observation towers and absurdly few troops, they lost more than a thousand to civilian home guards with their pistols and submachine guns and a handful of soldiers.

Knowing these odds, Hamas is now doing all it can to delay Israel’s tunnel offensive by releasing hostages in pairs after lengthy talks for each batch. At two at a time, with more than 200 to go, assuming they are still alive, this approach could delay the offensive until next year, if then.

In human terms, the waiting is excruciating. And with 360,000 reservists recalled to duty alongside the additional 160,000 on active duty (the entire British army numbers 80,360 including the Ghurkas; the US Army, 452,689), there is also the very practical consideration of what happens when you keep a great part of the labour force away from its jobs, and parents away from their families. But the solution here can been found in the very thing that makes Israel so vulnerable: its size. It is small enough that batches of troops can be released from their unit deployments facing Gaza and allowed to go home to live and work, but still be back in a matter of hours if called to launch the offensive. They are certainly not needed to defend now that the defences are wide awake; today there are guard units all along the perimeter, where they should have been all along. (Overconfidence is also an Israeli trait: on October 6 1973, when the Egyptian army crossed the Suez Canal with tens of thousands of troops, there was a paltry 411 Israeli reservists holding 17 Canal-side forts).

But the intensely frustrating delay in launching the offensive doesn’t preclude all offensive action. Both the Israeli Army and the Shin Bet security service have units of skilled individual fighters who speak perfect Palestinian-accented Arabic and who can look the part. With all the confusion caused by the bombing, they have been able to walk into the Gaza strip to blend in and look for Hamas leaders. So far, the names and photos of 28 Hamas commanders and political chiefs successfully found and killed have been published—and the mini-campaign is continuing.

Meanwhile, the Hezbollah Shia army is also waiting across the Lebanese border, with an estimated 150,000 rockets and missiles. This is such an enormous number — the total launched so far from the Gaza Strip is under 8,000 — that in order to cope, Israel’s Iron Dome batteries would have to engage them very selectively to protect only the most exposed human lives. But so far, Hezbollah has done nothing to back up its loudly vehement support for Hamas, with two exceptions. One was a brief bout of machine gun fire, which killed a young reservist who had just arrived in Israel from his American family home, and the other was the launch of some rockets by Palestinians it harbors, “Hamas in Lebanon”.

Hezbollah’s vehement leader, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, and his Iranian paymasters keep calling for Israel’s destruction, along with “death to the USA”, but for now, neither has reacted to Israel’s destruction of the freight terminals in Aleppo and Damascus airports which Iran uses to deliver weapons to Hezbollah. Nasrallah has met with Hamas deputy chief Saleh al-Arouri and Islamic Jihad chief Ziad al-Nakhala at which “an assessment was made of the international positions being taken and what the parties of the Axis of Resistance must do … to realise a real victory for the resistance in Gaza and Palestinian and to halt the brutal aggression.” But thus far, Hezbollah hasn’t unleashed its barrage.

At this point, then, is still impossible to say what Nasrallah’s plan might be. Will he start the rocket barrages when Israel kicks off its offensive into Gaza? Or will he have another starting point in mind? Equally, he may be deterred from action by the vulnerability of his Shia supporters in Southern Lebanon to Israel’s artillery and mortars, as well as its airpower. He learned this by hard example: during the Israel-Hezbollah war in 2006, Shia southern Beirut was left in ruins along with Hezbollah headquarters and barracks — and dozens of Shia villages all the way to the border. After that conflict, Nasrallah, with commendable honesty, declared that he would never have started the war had he known what the Israeli force would do to the houses of his followers. To mitigate their fury, Hezbollah officials were sent around with bags of US dollars supplied by Iran to pay for some of the damage.

It is not unreasonable, then, to think that the only Arab leader in the region who does care for his supporters might be reluctant to expose them to another devastating bombing campaign simply to launch rockets against Israel — especially since Israel’s bombing capacity has tripled since 2006. There is also the large question of asking Shia to sacrifice their homes for ultra-Sunni Hamas that views them as heretics deserving of death. There’s also the small matter of Nasrallah’s personal vulnerability: he too becomes a target if he enters the war.

Middle East Experts will immediately point out the fallacy of holding out any reasonable hope of rationality in the region, but as of writing the war has not expanded. Nonetheless, Israel’s declared intent of destroying the Hamas tunnel network and defeating its defenders has not changed, nor will it. Held up till now by promises to liberate the hostages, the Israeli offensive will not wait for very long.


Professor Edward Luttwak is a strategist and historian known for his works on grand strategy, geoeconomics, military history, and international relations.

ELuttwak

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Sayantani Gupta
Sayantani Gupta
8 months ago

A good analysis, however needed to have been embedded in some geo- political context. With Erdogan openly supporting Hamas- whom he called Mujahideen, and Syria yet to respond to the attacks on Aleppo and Damascus airports, it’s evident there is some furious back- room parleys going on.
MBS made an interesting statement to Islamic theocrats about leaving statecraft to those who rule. I suspect there is a tie- up of kinds between MBS, Al Sisi in Egypt and Jordan, who certainly don’t want Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas Palestinians on their turf.
The Israeli response could be tied to this alliance.
The question is what will Basher Assad and Iran do in view of Erdogan trying to stake the claim of Islamic Umma leadership. Both are known to be hostile to Erdogan.

Dougie Undersub
Dougie Undersub
8 months ago

If we look at Iraq post 2003, the great majority of the deaths were of Muslims killed by other Muslims for being the wrong sort of Muslims. It wasn’t the Americans or the British leaving car bombs in marketplaces or outside Friday prayers. So I’m sure you’re right that neighbouring Arab states are very keen indeed to stop the conflict spilling over.
After all, they’ve had sixty years to rehome the Palestinians if they’d wanted to.

Sayantani Gupta
Sayantani Gupta
8 months ago

I think the problem is that the nation’s I mentioned have as much of a problem with the Jihadi street as has the West, however the situation is complicated by their having to pay surface allegiance to Islamic unity
The unfortunate truth is that no-one really wants to deal with the Palestinians – not even Iran or Syria would want them..

Last edited 8 months ago by Sayantani Gupta
Richard Craven
Richard Craven
8 months ago

Jordan actually fought a war against the Palestinians in 1970 – the Black September conflict.

Sayantani Gupta
Sayantani Gupta
8 months ago
Reply to  Richard Craven

It’s interesting that Biden made a statement saying that the IMEI may have provided a desperate response. As IMEI was mainly a rival to BRI and CCP has sent warships to the region this is looking more and more complex…

Leonel SIlva Rocha
Leonel SIlva Rocha
8 months ago

IMEI, BRI? Why this love of reducing full designations or names to a few initials? Do we all reading these articles understand this reduced language?

Sayantani Gupta
Sayantani Gupta
8 months ago

Acronyms unfortunately are a way of today’s world-I am sorry for this. Israel-Middle East -Europe-India corridor. Belt and Road Inititaive.

laurence scaduto
laurence scaduto
8 months ago

I didn’t understand any of it. I assume that Gupta didn’t want me to. And I will ignore his comments from now on.

Leonel SIlva Rocha
Leonel SIlva Rocha
8 months ago

Why would’t she want you to understand? Do I sense some bad blood between you two?

Richard Craven
Richard Craven
8 months ago

I’m glad I’m not the only one to be mystified by this!

Sayantani Gupta
Sayantani Gupta
8 months ago
Reply to  Richard Craven

Joe Biden held a press conference yesterday where he said that the Hamas attack may have been provoked by the upcoming India to Europe trade corridor ( IMEI). Obliquely hinting that the Chinese sponsored Belt Road corridor was being threatened by a parallel network of trade routes which would involve both Saudi Arabia and UAE as well as Israel.
I am a “she” by the way.

Gayle Rosenthal
Gayle Rosenthal
8 months ago
Reply to  Richard Craven

One has to wonder if the Black September was payback for Jordan occupying West Bank for 19 years without establishing a Palestinian State, or, if it was just the usual behaviour of Palestinians to be troublesome.

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
8 months ago

In the Palestinian enclaves, they stopped cars driven by the wives of Beduin officers and frisked them. At a military rally, womens underwear were hung from radio antennae on vehicles. King Hussein asked what was this about. The Beduin Officers said who have turned us into women so he allowed them to take revenge for their dishonoured wives. Palestinians were forced to flee to Lebanon where in 1975 they helped Sunnis attack Christians which started civil war.
Pre 1975, Beirut was the Paris of the Middle East.
In 1990 Arafat supported Hussein in the Iraq invasion of Kuwait. One of the skills of a politician is the ability to build support from people with a wide range of views. Churchill did this in WW2 in Britain and building support with Roosevelt and Stalin. A Pakistani told me how Arafat had alienated vast amount of Muslim opinion by his various actions and words.
If the Palestinians had people with the skills of Abba Eban and Golda Meir they would be in a much stronger position.

Steve Jolly
Steve Jolly
8 months ago

That’s about the size of it. Almost all the governments of the Middle East are either strongman dictatorships or archaic monarchies propped up by oil money. They want to maintain the status quo, stay in power, and stay rich and powerful. They don’t want to give Islamic fundamentalists any kind of foothold in their territory for good reason. They all remember what happened during the Arab Spring. They all got to witness what happened to Assad and Qaddafi. They’re not eager for a repeat, nor do they really want to go to war with Israel, because they know it would strain their resources and possibly weaken their regimes and they’d probably lose anyway. The Egyptian government’s immediate response to Hamas’s offensive was to close their border with Gaza. Whatever line they feed to their unruly populations, their actions declare in no uncertain terms that they want nothing to do with Hamas or the Palestinians.

Sayantani Gupta
Sayantani Gupta
8 months ago
Reply to  Steve Jolly

Agree-but I wish more ” Progressives” in the West would realise that(including those trying to obliquely justify Hamas)

Gayle Rosenthal
Gayle Rosenthal
8 months ago

It’s a rather ironic situation that a nation that never was – Palestine – has millions of “citizen refugees” all over the world, and whom no one wants. The tool for dispersing problem populations was, in the past, to disperse them and rename them. In the wisdom of “the civilized” … those who thought to put “rules boundaries” on man’s most heinous instincts – “war”- the seeds of rot and destruction were sewn with Palestinian refugees. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a do-over.

Sayantani Gupta
Sayantani Gupta
8 months ago

The situation is extremely problematic…I agree

Mike Downing
Mike Downing
8 months ago

I’m glad you’ve confirmed that as I’ve been telling people that for years. The usual suspects always lay everything at the door of that mysterious blob ‘the West’ but if we’d never set foot in the place they’d all keep killing each other like they’ve been doing since the death of he who shall not be cartooned.

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
8 months ago

Interesting points. Does anyone know anything about the present relationship betwen MBS and the al Shaykh family?

Sayantani Gupta
Sayantani Gupta
8 months ago
Reply to  Charles Hedges

Al-Shaykh??
MBS imho holds the key to this conflagration not getting out of control. Along with the UAE, Egypt and possibly Jordan. The Axis is Turkey, Qatar, Iran and Pakistan.

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
8 months ago
Reply to  Charles Hedges

al Shaykh is the family of Al Wahab and occupy supreme religious authority in Saudi Arabia.

Sayantani Gupta
Sayantani Gupta
8 months ago
Reply to  Charles Hedges

Ok, I don’t know about that aspect, though I heard that MBS has privately been talking to Bibi.

Max Rottersman
Max Rottersman
8 months ago

Why the need to rush into Gaza? Hamas isn’t going anywhere. If Israeli could forget Gaza before October 7th why can’t it again, now that it’s learned its lesson about borders. I wish the author would explain the rush. Israel needs to flood the tunnels. That will take new equipment and techniques. Months is my guess. Once the tunnels are flooded (with weak radioactive isotopes their satellites can detect) Israel can put eyes on everything it needs to.

Last edited 8 months ago by Max Rottersman
Jake Dee
Jake Dee
8 months ago
Reply to  Max Rottersman

I’m not saying that can’t be done but it would be a hell of an undertaking, basically unprecedented. Consider some of the details, maintaining a siege on ~2.4 million people and raising the water table to surface level over an area approx. 365 square km. All while under fire from multiple directions. The radio-isotopes idea is interesting, something like nuclear medicine to track internal circulatory systems, again it might work but again you would be inventing creating and implementing a totally new and untested system on the fly under combat conditions. Also pumping radioactive saltwater into the densest populated zone on earth may have some political repercussions.
These ideas look a lot like the old classical and medieval siege techniques, Two rows of siege works one line of circumvallation around the enemies’ position in front and a second line of contravallation to your rear to keep out the other enemy forces besieging YOU.
Don’t forget that Hezbollah, Iran, Syria and Egypt are also players in this game an massive build ups of men and material will be impossible to hide.
All this is starting to look a bit like Jerusalem and Masada 70-73 c.e.

Simon Blanchard
Simon Blanchard
8 months ago
Reply to  Max Rottersman

Pretty much what I’ve been thinking, albeit without the radioactive bit. For which I tip my hat to you.

Nik Jewell
Nik Jewell
8 months ago
Reply to  Max Rottersman

There is an entirely unconfirmed story in Middle East Eye, that Israel plans to use a paralysing nerve gas under the supervision of US Delta Force, allowing hostage rescue. “A senior Arab source”.
Don’t shoot the messenger!

Chauncey Gardiner
Chauncey Gardiner
8 months ago
Reply to  Max Rottersman

Indeed, there is “option value” to not going in.
Meanwhile, one might wonder if the IDF doth protest too much. It might be happy to wait. Waiting itself might degrade Hamas’s capabilities and political viability. But, there are so many shifting currents, seen and unseen. Forecasting the trajectories of chaotic processes is hard …

Peter Joy
Peter Joy
8 months ago
Reply to  Max Rottersman

Smart idea. I was thinking gas, flamethrowers or flooding – but giving the system a ‘barium meal’ sounds quite ingenious, if it would work.

j watson
j watson
8 months ago

As well known Plan A rarely lasts long once comes into contact with enemy.

The motive and justification to obliterate the tunnel System v clear. How many IDF and civilian lives, including likely most hostages, justifiable cost remains to be seen. Rhetoric will look to exert maximum pressure in meantime.

I think Author correct about Hezbollah and Iran. Sabre rattle but won’t risk the consequences of escalation. Think he’s right too about Bibi.

Nik Jewell
Nik Jewell
8 months ago

Is an alternative explanation possible? I’ve said here a couple of times that you need to look at Israeli media, which is far less one-sided about this conflict than UK media.
Netanyahu is massively unpopular in Israel and is blamed for this by many. There is no guarantee that he will survive in office until the end of this conflict. He would be ousted before getting his deeply unpopular judicial reforms through.
Once the army goes in, the Israeli body count is going to mount rapidly, making him even more unpopular. Everybody is also on edge about what might happen in the North and then the region, as the article notes.
I suspect that indecisiveness is the primary cause of the delay here.

Nik Jewell
Nik Jewell
8 months ago
Reply to  Nik Jewell

lol … I posted this, looked at some news, and the tanks have been in overnight.
Decision made!?

Last edited 8 months ago by Nik Jewell
Yoram Mimoun
Yoram Mimoun
8 months ago
Reply to  Nik Jewell

As a Hebrew speaker let me precise something that many in the West seem not to seize. Admittedly, Netanyahu is facing massive unpopularity (even amongst Likud voters), but everyone in Israel understand that this war is a matter of survive for the country (many begin to call it the second independence war) in a way that the public opinion is unanimous concerning the rightness of the war and its objectives. Hence, there is only one thing Netanyahu cannot permit himself: not doing enough quantitatively and qualitatively. And as incredible as it seems even if the whole population knows that many soldiers will be killed, they consider that as a compulsory sacrifice to continue to live in their land. The reasons for the delay seems to be linked with the question of the hostages and the Americans will to protect their soldiers in the Middle East before Israel enter in Gaza.

Last edited 8 months ago by Yoram Mimoun
Sayantani Gupta
Sayantani Gupta
8 months ago
Reply to  Yoram Mimoun

UH has censored a comment I gave on similar lines. Most here are not familiar with the considerable theological backup an outfit like Hamas receives from Islamic scripture-which distinguishes between ” Ghazva” and ” Dar Ul Harb” in some versions, but largely believes that all apostates and non-believers are worthy recipients of death.
This is understood by anyone in israel or in my part of the world-as we face daily struggles to survive.

Yoram Mimoun
Yoram Mimoun
8 months ago

It’s indeed a huge problem which raises the contradiction between the humanist way of seeing humans as seeking the Good in all its forms and the fact that this is not the case in all cultures. The West ignores the extent to which religious ideology can radically shape people’s aspirations and behaviour, making them humans of a very different “nature”, which requires different states of mind towards them. When you seek prosperity or seek to conquer the entire world in order to establish Sharia law, you are not the same kind of human, (although, of course, you have the same human rights).

Sayantani Gupta
Sayantani Gupta
8 months ago
Reply to  Yoram Mimoun

Imho, a lot is due to the public square being taken over by the Left.
Sometimes I am startled to find ultra- Trotskyite Perry Anderson and the Daily Telegraph on the same page in analysis of South Asia in particular.

Alex Carnegie
Alex Carnegie
8 months ago
Reply to  Yoram Mimoun

I agree that the ideology of the Muslim Brotherhood is a long way from Western Liberalism but nevertheless I think one can stress this point too much. Back in the 1970s when the PLO and Fatah were at their peak, Palestinians were led by secular nationalists – mostly socialist or Marxist and with Christians as well as Muslims in prominent positions. I suspect the bottom line is that if a people are driven from their homes into refugee camps they are likely to end up with vehemently nationalist leadership spouting some extreme ideology or other.

Others will have studied Muslim theology more closely than me, but I understand one also needs to be careful in interpreting calls for jihad, which can mean several different things. The most commonly used version today is for defensive jihad against foreign invasion rather than offensive jihad with the aim of world conquest (which has not been significant rallying cry since the Ottomans were turned back from Vienna four centuries ago). As such it is not that far removed from western notions of national self defence.

The Middle East is an intractable problem. I am not sure that managing its problems is helped by exaggerating the weirdness or inherent evil of the various parties. The real versions are disconcerting enough.

Last edited 8 months ago by Alex Carnegie
AJ Mac
AJ Mac
8 months ago
Reply to  Alex Carnegie

The attribution of a special level of evil to whole groups should without doubt be avoided.
But I wonder how you account for the ultra-nationalism and extremist ideology that is prevalent in Iran, Lebanon, Turkey, Afghanistan, and elsewhere in the region. Of course the war-and-sanction-battered anti-Western feeling that abounds there has not risen out of thin air.
Yet while your claim about the complexity of jihad makes sense, I think the recent prominence of groups such as Hezbollah, ISIS, the Taliban, the Muslim Brotherhood, and Hamas establishes the ongoing prominence of jihad in the offensive sense: global “holy war”.
An intractable problem indeed which, as you emphasize, we should not make into a blood and bone deep “exotic” weirdness that further impairs our collective ability to understand and address these crises in whatever piecemeal way we can.

Alex Carnegie
Alex Carnegie
8 months ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

I do not dispute the spread of disorder and terrorist tactics in the region nor that Islamic texts can be quoted to provide justifications for violence. It is a matter of emphasis. A few points:

1/ There have been numerous secular groups in the area with similarly ruthless terrorist tactics: PLO, Fatah, Phalange, Baathists, Kurds, MEK etc – and if one goes further back the Stern Gang and Irgun.

2/ Widespread violence and economic deprivation tend to lead to a ready supply of violent and potentially fanatical young men. Some of the destabilising violence has come from western or western supported sources e.g. Iraq and Syria. As Petraeus used to say, it is important not to cause more recruits than one kills.

3/ One challenge to the global holy war thesis is that there have been so few terrorist attacks in the West in the last decade. The various hateful groups you list seem to have other priorities.

My bottom line is that even if the Middle East had been inhabited by Buddhists rather than Muslims I think – given the history of the last fifty years – it would probably be about as violent as now. Terrorism needs a rationale. If the current one was not available then another would have been found. This is obviously a subjective judgement and, anyway, not much help in the current situation but since you asked 


AJ Mac
AJ Mac
8 months ago
Reply to  Alex Carnegie

Without intending in any way to tar all or anything close to the majority of Muslims with this brush: I think Islam finds a more intense and widespread rationale for violence and terrorism among its followers, on average, than any other major present-day religion. I therefore think that if Muslim populations in this region were–in some competitive religious experiment– replaced with Buddhists, Christians or Hindus, that there would be less total bloodshed and enmity.
But that, I admit, is (at best) informed speculation, and every major religion has its own violent crusader wing, whose numbers and virulence may rise and fall according to a number of changeable factors such as leadership and material conditions.

Alex Carnegie
Alex Carnegie
8 months ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

To some extent, I agree. Jesus was a carpenter turned preacher, Moses a prince turned tribal patriarch, Buddha another prince turned philosopher but Mohammed was a merchant turned warlord. The various religious texts reflect these different career paths.

BUT Christianity still produced both the Crusades and the Wars of Religion, Jewish history from David to the Herod was one of near continuous war and Buddhists recently fought the Sri Lankran Civil War.

If people want justifications they can find them even in the texts of the most peaceful religions 
 or in the name of liberty, fraternity and equality or socialism or patriotism or whatever.

Before modernity hit the Middle East I do not believe it was noticeably more violent than Europe or East Asia.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
8 months ago
Reply to  Alex Carnegie

I have no major quibble with any of those characterizations–including the caveat that every religion has their seasons (or centuries) of heightened bloodthirst and always those individual practitioners who can find at least oblique or selective excuses for all manner of hatred and violence within sacred writings. To pull a favorite line from the Bhagavad Gita: “Look! Like when a tank pours water forth to suit all needs, so do these Brahmins draw texts for all wants–from tank of Holy Writ”.

Sayantani Gupta
Sayantani Gupta
8 months ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

That was I think in the context of the Pandav- Kaurav war of the epic Mahabharata. And there is a difference – war is waged by warriors and Kshatriyas only against each other. Not invoked to kill innocents outside the battlefield.
The issue here is not of religious sanction for war as in the past. It is as to how the concept is still being legitimised by a section of para-statal actors like Jihadist terrorists to justify killings of innocents ( babies, elderly people, women).

Last edited 8 months ago by Sayantani Gupta
AJ Mac
AJ Mac
8 months ago

Ok. I’ve read the Gita in several translations but I’m no expert. I certainly took that part of Krishna’s emphatic appeal to Arjuna to mean something analogous to Antonio’s line in The Merchant of Venice: “the devil can cite Scripture for his purpose”.
In any case, there are many vicious actions that claim a religiously or ideologically elevated motive. This is not confined to a single religion, nor the inevitable manifestation of any sponsoring text.
But we’re at a point in global history in which the most vicious and determined legitimizers of god-awful acts and packs of ruthless deluded “true believers” are decidedly overrepresented in one major faith. Of course that faith is Islam. The communists or secular-fascists–or some other religion– could re-take that “hill”, but right now it is not a close call. I think the reform must come largely from within the Muslim world.

Last edited 8 months ago by AJ Mac
Sayantani Gupta
Sayantani Gupta
8 months ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

I agree entirely with your second para.I think we will miss the wood for the trees if we donot firmly come out in support of moderate Islam. To me, that means calling out Jihadi terrorists for what they are, instead of treating this in terms of ” moral equivalence” from the past.
We need to see turbulence in the Middle East post 2005-06 and Hamas gaining foothold as the ” sole spokesperson” for Palestine.
I think many of you donot reside” Among the believers” of radical Islam.
If you did, you may understand the point some of us try to makeon UH.
I am not too well versed with theology of Christianity, Judaism or Zoroastrian faith.
As far as Hindu philosophy is concerned, there is no single textual consistency. But both the Vedas and the Upanishads – the earliest Hindu texts donot contain the equivalent philosophy of Islam as contained in the Koran, of justifying violence against all and sundry.
Even the Bhagwad Geeta was in the context of Arjuna hesitating to war against his Kshatriya cousins, and Lord Krishna explaining that war against warriors was justified. Note it was not on Islamic lines of Jihad.

Last edited 8 months ago by Sayantani Gupta
AJ Mac
AJ Mac
8 months ago

Other than not knowing for sure whom you mean to address by the pronoun “you”(I have no personal connection to Islam at all) I strongly agree with you most of what you’ve written. But there are warlike, violent, and culturally jingoistic passages in both Hebrew and Christian scripture, which do not constrain believers, certainly not today.
We must acknowledge and support the moderates and peace lovers of all faiths, with a perhaps regrettable but needed emphasis on Muslims of that kind.
And didn’t Krishna himself teach that sometimes the sword must be raised as a matter of dutiful circumstance, but that we can “renounce the fruit of our actions”? Thank you for the notes of context on Hindu scripture too.

Sayantani Gupta
Sayantani Gupta
8 months ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

Not “you” at all! Sorry if it sounded as such.
I think that many in the West who are finding a moral equivalence between Hamas and Israel are not too familiar with radical Islam as they perhaps donot dwell in proximity to such communities.
There are aspects about the kind of dogma they spout against ” infidels” which are deeply disturbing.
From that point alone I made my comments.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
8 months ago

Amen, Ms. Gupta!

Alex Carnegie
Alex Carnegie
8 months ago

Hamburg, Dresden, Tokyo, Hiroshima?

Sayantani Gupta
Sayantani Gupta
8 months ago
Reply to  Alex Carnegie

Sanctioned by the Bible?
I actually don’t disagree with you, it’s just a question of emphasis.

Last edited 8 months ago by Sayantani Gupta
Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
8 months ago
Reply to  Alex Carnegie

The Tamils in Sri Lanka are largely Hindu. The Tamil Tigers killed moderate Hindus such as The mayor of Jaffna.

harry storm
harry storm
8 months ago
Reply to  Alex Carnegie

that was then this is now.

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
8 months ago
Reply to  Alex Carnegie

The Crusades occurred because the Seljuk Turks from about 950 AD stopped pilgrims going to Jerusalem. Before this date there was easy access. It is part of the loss of power of Arabs within the Muslim world and the takeover by Turks.

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
8 months ago
Reply to  Alex Carnegie

Technology is evolving. The days when un and semi skilled men could make good money in factories in the West is gone. The Arab/Middle East has an even larger problem finding employment for the un and semi- skilled. Germany largely moved out of un and semi skilled industrial work in the late 1990s.
The GCC solve the problem of finding employment for the un and semi-skilled men by providing a welfare state which even Saudi Arabia has problems funding.
The West did not build factories in the ME, it chose China and the Far East because of their work ethic. Germany has moved much of it’s manufacturing to Slovakia. Part of the anti Western feeling is resentment at our standard of living. The Muslim World banned printing and has not gone through a technical Renaissance or an Industrial Revolution. The Renaissance came about because of the re-introduction of Greek thought. What has the Muslim World done with the Hindu/Buddhist, Persian/Babylonian and Greek Scholarship ?

harry storm
harry storm
8 months ago
Reply to  Alex Carnegie

Neither Irgun, Stern Gang nor even the PLO even come close to the depravity with which Islamist groups treat those perceived as enemies or infidels. Sorry but not all terrorism is equal.

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
8 months ago
Reply to  Alex Carnegie

Please provide the Buddhist quotes justifying killing in the name of Buddha.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
8 months ago
Reply to  Alex Carnegie

One way to understand the motiviation of Hamas is to study their charter, which is available on line. It adopts the most militant interpretatoin of Islam, calling for the killing of Jews and the elimination of Israel. Since they hold absolute power in Gaza and have a record of killing anyone who dissents, we can assume that their recent actions are representative.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
8 months ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

What is the “proportional response” to an enemy who’s stated goal is to wipe your entire kind from the planet?

Pedro the Exile
Pedro the Exile
8 months ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

Wipe them out first-end of discussion.

Dermot O'Sullivan
Dermot O'Sullivan
8 months ago
Reply to  Alex Carnegie

Your last paragraph.

Alex Carnegie
Alex Carnegie
8 months ago

??

Sayantani Gupta
Sayantani Gupta
8 months ago
Reply to  Alex Carnegie

Offensive jihad is very much an ontological device used in South Asia by terrorist groups like Lashkar I Toiba or Al Qaeda or even the PFI, to justify Jihadi violence.( As in 26/11 Mumbai or the spate of attacks prior).
It has its roots in the extreme Wahabist movements of the 19th century in India, but has taken on a contemporary tinge with the whole concept of Ghazava- I- Hind.
However as you rightly point out there is a complexity in the concept.
But that has more to do with interpretations and in the case of terrorist groups seeking to justify violence against non- believers, it usually assumes an extreme and destructive form.
In which case the reaction has to be apposite, as anything less is perceived as weakness.

Last edited 8 months ago by Sayantani Gupta
Alex Carnegie
Alex Carnegie
8 months ago

I clearly need to go and study the South Asian context. Until then I defer to your expertise.

Sayantani Gupta
Sayantani Gupta
8 months ago
Reply to  Alex Carnegie

I am merely starting to learn, but even the basics are frightening enough to know that for some, ideologies have always been more important than any other context.

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
8 months ago

Have you read K S Lal on Medieval India ?
K. S. Lal – Wikipedia

Sayantani Gupta
Sayantani Gupta
8 months ago
Reply to  Charles Hedges

I have indeed. I much prefer his work along with that of Dr RC Mazumdar and the BVB series of KM Munshi. They were not popular with the Communists of the Nehruvian era like the Aligarh Muslim University lot. Despise the latter.
It’s unfortunate that most of the history teaching on the Islamic conquests of India ignore both the above lot as well as the older British history from VA Smith.

Last edited 8 months ago by Sayantani Gupta
Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
8 months ago
Reply to  Alex Carnegie

Khomeini was inspired by Al Sadr of Iraq of the 1960s to take political power. Khomeini was addressd The Supreme Guide of Islamic Nations, The Glorious Upholder of the Faith Exalted Chief, Vicar of Islam and of Muslims, Regent of the Hiden Imam. Khomeini claimed the right to rule the world which was different to Grand Ayatollah Kho’i. The Grand Ayatollahs are sources of imitation and can promulgate laws on every aspect of life. Khomeini had one one GA defrocked and another killed.
Until the West fully understand the theological statements of Khomeini and their implications we will not be able to stop Iran. Iran is a theocratic tyranny. The mearest equivalent in Europe would have been Charlemagne and the Pope to be combined into one politcal and religious power; military power combined with religious infallibility.

harry storm
harry storm
8 months ago
Reply to  Alex Carnegie

None of that of that explain the depraved cruelty and barbarism that groups like Hamas, ISIS, Al-Qaeda, Boko Haram and Al Shabab have meted out to those is perceived as foes or infidels.

Allison Barrows
Allison Barrows
8 months ago
Reply to  Yoram Mimoun

If a man can incinerate babies in their cribs, one may suppose that he is not human at all.

Peter Joy
Peter Joy
8 months ago

The men of the Luftwaffe, RAF Bomber Command and the USAAC incinerated thousands of babies in their cribs, from Coventry to Warsaw, Caen to Hamburg to Berlin and Lyon to Dresden to Tokyo. I expect the IDF has done for at least a few score of babies in their cribs over the past three weeks too. It’s not much good chucking stones from the glasshouse of the West and Israel.

harry storm
harry storm
8 months ago
Reply to  Peter Joy

Not at all the same thing, as you well know, or ought to.

Last edited 8 months ago by harry storm
Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
8 months ago
Reply to  Peter Joy

There was a documentary on the early Commandos . One veteran said he used the Commando dagger to stab to death a German soldier. He found the sensation so repulsive he could not withdraw the dagger.
The reality is that few people have the stomach to kill which is a blessing, even fewer with knives. For someone to kill with a knife by cutting off someone’s head, especially a baby’s must require a complete absense of any pity and compassion. Fortitude is the mental strength to endure pain and hardship with courage, not inflict it on others.

Robert Routledge
Robert Routledge
8 months ago
Reply to  Yoram Mimoun

As we all know humans are territorial animals and like most territorial animals they will defend their territory to the death sometimes. We are also intelligent opportunists who will also take other’s territory when possible , this has been going on for tens of thousands of years and is part of what we are.. Unfortunately what is right or wrong is not important as the usual victor is the one with sharpest claws, biggest fists, biggest guns ect. There is no rights or wrongs I’m afraid

Avro Lanc
Avro Lanc
8 months ago

I have been to war. I had wounded surrendered enemy soldiers at my mercy mere minutes after they had been trying to end my life. I gave them cigarettes and water, then pushed them back toward the rear and secured the position.
Those that behead, burn, rape and kidnap unarmed civilians are wrong and they are inhuman. I witnessed humanity on the battlefield with my own eyes and I find your narrative both wrong and tragic…

Robert Routledge
Robert Routledge
8 months ago
Reply to  Avro Lanc

I agree entirely it’s tragic but not wrong the strong unfortunately do always seem to ultimately win I’m very much afraid I sincerely wish this was not true however

John Tyler
John Tyler
8 months ago

And yet, strangely, the ‘weak’ democracies have historically always defeated the ‘strong’ autocratic regimes.

John Tyler
John Tyler
8 months ago

Of course there are right and wrong, good and bad, love and hate, caring and cruel, etc. to deny this may be philosophically clever in that smug way only philosophers can achieve, but is also
well
wrong.

harry storm
harry storm
8 months ago
Reply to  John Tyler

As evidenced by the remark about WWII bombers incinerating children, as if there was some sort of moral equivalence between that and slitting the throat of a baby or burning him/her alive.

Arthur G
Arthur G
8 months ago
Reply to  Yoram Mimoun

All of us are shaped by the religious culture we come from, even non-believers. The extent to which Judeo-Christian values have shaped the Western mind, and have NOT shaped other cultures can’t be overemphasized. Our beliefs about the value and sanctity of the individual simply don’t exist in large parts of the world.

Nik Jewell
Nik Jewell
8 months ago

Just an aside: From frequently falling victim myself, I don’t think Unherd censors much here, but they have an overzealous automated moderation system that flags very long posts, posts with multiple links, and a long list of trigger words. The comments almost always appear later.
There is a separate problem of people reporting posts, which is, I have noted, sometimes done strategically. Many never return to conversations from the previous day or earlier, so if you report a post late in the day or at the weekend, it will often disappear overnight or for the whole weekend, depending on whether a moderator logs in and checks it.
That’s my theory anyway.

Sayantani Gupta
Sayantani Gupta
8 months ago
Reply to  Nik Jewell

Agree. The comment usually appears much later and by that time the discussion has already moved on!

Nik Jewell
Nik Jewell
8 months ago
Reply to  Yoram Mimoun

I believe much of what you say to be true here. I have seen those cries for revenge, for Gaza to be flattened, turned to dust, for a second Nakba, to finish the job from 1948 etc.
I’ve seen it explained many times that arguing about proportionality in this context is to misunderstand Middle Eastern politics, that Westerners should accept that ‘might is right’.
I’ve also seen articles suggesting that there is a conflict behind the scenes between the IDF, who want to go in without delay (and would have done so days ago), and the politicians, who are more wary now.
I question whether Israel is united behind the cause or united behind Netanyahu. At the moment, it may be both, but will they still be backing Netanyahu in six months’ time if a protracted operation is still going on?
Churchill replaced Chamberlain during wartime; it’s not unknown.
The delay is indeed partly driven by what level of support the US is prepared or able to give if serious hostilities break out in the North (and from there across the ME, even globally).

harry storm
harry storm
8 months ago
Reply to  Nik Jewell

Churchill replaced Chamberlain because the latter wasn’t warlike enough. And revenge is not the motive for “flattening Gaza.” Destroying Hamas after a massacre that calls the very existence of Israel into question is. Of course some individuals may seek revenge, but that isn’t what motivates Israeli society. It does, however, motivate many Palestinians.

Dumetrius
Dumetrius
8 months ago
Reply to  Yoram Mimoun

Yes, and also the allied factor of Israel’s tiny size, which struck me when I was there.

There just isn’t the time for prevarication.

No matter what kind of a clown Bibi is perceived as being, folks have to line up behind him, toot sweet.

Last edited 8 months ago by Dumetrius
Pedro the Exile
Pedro the Exile
8 months ago
Reply to  Yoram Mimoun

Spot on-having married into a Jewish family with significant Holocaust deaths up the line, I have( hopefully ) some insight and am always staggered at “the West’s” supposedly rational reasoning about the Israeli response when faced with what they see as an existential threat and therefore will do whatever it takes to avoid annihilation.

Rafi Stern
Rafi Stern
8 months ago
Reply to  Nik Jewell

Netanyahu’s unpopularity is a “the day after” issue, not relevant right now. The country is doing what it does best – pulling together when under threat. The other thing we do well, is pulling ourselves apart when not under threat. After this is all over there will be a political bloodbath, but not before – which is why Benny Gantz is extremely popular (despite his complicity in the colossal failure) and Yair Lapid is not. By bringing Gantz into the war cabinet Netanyahu has secured his position to see this through, In my opinion, only indecisiveness or a perceived capitulation would oust the current leadership, not body count.

Nik Jewell
Nik Jewell
8 months ago
Reply to  Rafi Stern

You may well be proved right. Time will tell.

Kirk Susong
Kirk Susong
8 months ago
Reply to  Nik Jewell

“Netanyahu is massively unpopular in Israel”
That’s the nature of public opinion… it rises and falls with events of the day. Today he’s blamed for having been lulled to sleep on the southern border by Hamas’ deliberate ploy to look more pacific. Tomorrow he may be praised for his successful military campaign, who knows? The judicial reforms are unpopular with some and popular with others. The only polls which matter are the ones taken on election day. At the moment all Israel seems to be aware that Hamas will never stop, and the only way to stay safe is to kill them.

Nik Jewell
Nik Jewell
8 months ago
Reply to  Kirk Susong

Can they all be killed? I fear a replacement will be along before you know it. It’s a clichĂ©, but you can’t kill an idea.

Kirk Susong
Kirk Susong
8 months ago
Reply to  Nik Jewell

This reminds of the line from Spielberg’s Munich… “Do you stop trimming your nails because they grow back?”

Addie Shog
Addie Shog
8 months ago
Reply to  Kirk Susong

Netanyahu is finished. When Hamas is defeated we will not forget his completely failed policy.

Brian Villanueva
Brian Villanueva
8 months ago

Tunnels are a perfect environment for poison gas. Most of the hostages are likely already dead. The men were almost certainly killed quickly — useless and potentially dangerous. Old women similarly are useless and a pain in the ass. The younger women and girls are likely being passed around as sexual trophies. For any hostages that are in the tunnels, death by nerve gas would probably be a mercy to what they’re enduring now.
Bottom line, Israel must accept that the vast majority of these people are not coming back and act accordingly. Time for some sarin.

Dumetrius
Dumetrius
8 months ago

It may have certain historical resonances . . .

laurence scaduto
laurence scaduto
8 months ago

Maybe you should keep your grotesque imaginings to yourself.

Dumetrius
Dumetrius
8 months ago

I don’t think Nasrallah will trade in his cushy situation easily. Someone will have to tip the balance so he has to do it out of necessity.
South Lebanon is fertile – fruits and veg farming /orchards everywhere, seems pretty well-to-do – I bought some very expensive jeans at the (I kid you not) Al-Aqsa Martyr’s Shopping Mall (!!) in either Tyre or Sidon, and it has a burgeoning tourism industry bringing much needed foreign exchange.

Last edited 8 months ago by Dumetrius
Gayle Rosenthal
Gayle Rosenthal
8 months ago

As the West dithers around the edges of Islamic terrorism, with a pinch here and a pinch there, the terrorists get smarter and more practiced at their “art.” By the time one quarter of the Muslims on one continent make war on their neighbors, they’ll own most of Europe, North and South America. A woman from Dubai called me today to see if I was interested in selling my property. I told her America is not for sale to its enemies.

Walter Schwager
Walter Schwager
8 months ago

It took the US eight months to conquer Mosul and Isis, without tunnels. How long to take Gaza City?

John Williams
John Williams
8 months ago

The Israelis apparently won’t budge on fuel supplies so the delay might mean it’s possible that the tunnels will become uninhabitable without air and electricity.

Last edited 8 months ago by John Williams
Russell Sharpe
Russell Sharpe
8 months ago
Reply to  John Williams

The reason Gaza above ground is running out of fuel is that Hamas has stolen it all to supply their bunkers and tunnels. So I imagine that they can survive underground for some considerable time.

John Williams
John Williams
8 months ago
Reply to  Russell Sharpe

I agree that Hamas is stealing the fuel but I wondered if a reduced supply might damage the terrorist’s plans.
Perhaps if the Israelis/Egyptians managed to introduce something into the fuel that would misfire enough to slow the generators down.
This wouldn’t affect the Gazan on the surface as they’ve already been massively inconvenienced by Hamas’s thievery and Egypt doesn’t want the terrorists to succeed really..

James Kirk
James Kirk
8 months ago

Tunnels. Ask the Viet Cong. I wondered why the use of diesel exhaust fumes is not considered, IDF tanks must emit enough. Then I remembered the water traps acting like plumbing U bends. Still, fumes deny access and I doubt breathing apparatus in quantity is available for either side. Hamas leaving hostages to suffocate wouldn’t fit with the BBC’s reporting agenda.

Lillian Fry
Lillian Fry
8 months ago

Hamas is playing Alinsky’s “Rules for Radicals.” See Beautifultrouble.org, the updated version. Winning the propaganda war is what matters: the “Rules” advise that the action taken only matters in terms of the reaction to it. Israel and theUS have already fallen into the trap and I don’t see an exit.

Douglas Hainline
Douglas Hainline
8 months ago

Unherd readers might be interested in a man-bites-dog case: the American Trotskyist Socialist Workers Party on the current conflict in Israel/Palestine:https://themilitant.com/
The world turned upside down.

martin logan
martin logan
8 months ago

Ingenious military insights into a crisis that requires a political solution.

Bibi’s policy of propping up Hamas to weaken the PA on the West Bank has brought the greatest Israeli failure since its creation.

Israel faces a stark choice: either ethnically cleanse millions of Palestinians from what they claim is Israel, or come up with a solution that divides what was once Palestine.

No other options will ever work–as the history since 1948 amply proves.

Arthur G
Arthur G
8 months ago
Reply to  martin logan

The problem is none of the Palestinian leadership will agree to a two-state solution that recognizes Israel. When the chant “From the river to the sea” believe them.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
8 months ago
Reply to  Arthur G

The problem is that Israel is a functional, wealthy country in the midst of dysfunctional poor Arabs who are too stupid to understand when their leaders continually deflect from their corruption (while living in luxury) by blaming “the Jews”. In this way Hamas leaders are very similar to America’s own Mr. Sharpton, living off the ignorance of their own people, while getting them killed. Agreeing to a two-state solution would just mean the jig is up.

Vern Hughes
Vern Hughes
8 months ago

Why is this article on UnHerd? What we expect here is the un-herding of opinion, a challenge to the stultifying group-think we are force-fed in mainstream media. Is this too hard on the Israel-Palestine issue? Why revert back to a Herd mentality on this when the world is desperate for something different?

J Bryant
J Bryant
8 months ago

There is surely no doubt the Israelis will take strong action against Hamas (in addition to the bombing campaign to date). The only real question, that the author doesn’t address, is whether Israeli action will be focused (to the extent that’s possible in crowded Gaza) on Hamas and its infrastructure, or whether it will be a broader assault that takes little account of civilian deaths.

Andrew Vanbarner
Andrew Vanbarner
8 months ago
Reply to  J Bryant

The Israelis are very aware of the continual “anti-Zionist” slant of the major media, and will avoid giving the Palestinians any propaganda victories in the form of dead or injured Palestinian civilians. So much as an errant Islamic Jihad rocket can be falsely painted as dastardly Zionist aggression.
For that reason, the IDF literally fires warning shots onto buildings targeted for bombing, notifies civilians of incoming artillery barrages, warns people to evacuate combat zones, and targets only areas and actors of credible threat.
That said, if a Hamas commander hides under his grandchildrens’ crib, as they often do, Israelis might not spare the nursery this time. Not with images of their own dead children, violated young women, kidnapped grandmothers, and beheaded soldiers fresh in their heads.
Hamas very stupidly sought to insert themselves into the Saudi-Israeli accords, to browbeat the Saudis into acting on their behalf after predictably punishing Israeli reprisals. To that end, they gleefully committed gory and appalling atrocities upon Israeli civilians.
They did this not only knowing, but also encouraging, those Israeli reprisals, and didn’t care one bit about the consequences to any others, on either side of the Gazan border.
Palestinians, for their part, seemed to celebrate, or at the very least to not at all criticize, Hamas’ attack. They elected Hamas with a large majority in 2006, and though there have of course have been no elections since, none have been demanded, and it appears Hamas still enjoys widespread support in Gaza.
So one wonders how “innocent” Palestinian civilians – or at least the ones who are grown adults – truly are. None have protested Hamas’ actions, nor have any of them expressed a single word of sympathy, for one of the worst attacks on Jews since the days of the Third Reich.

Malcolm Powell
Malcolm Powell
8 months ago

The last paragraph makes an imprtant point. In my view, all the evidence shows that Palestinians anywhere in the world are only interested in a solution which involves the destruction of Israel and the creation of an Arab Palestine from the river to the sea. Thus there is no possibility of them accepting any form of two state solution. This is why Arafat would never sign any peace deals with Israel. He kniw he would have been killed by his own people. .
Once you accept this, you will see that all the diplomatic posturing about a peace deal,new initiatives etc are a complete waste of time. Every ten years or so, the Palestinians will attack Israel in some way or another and Israel will retaliate heavily. Things willl then quiet down for a bit.
One day, perhaps decades ahead, maybe the Palestinian leaders (like the IRA in Northern Ireland) will realise that too many Palestininian lives have been lost for an unattainable goal. That might lead to some sort of peace but I very much doubt it. After all, Sunnis and Shias are still fighting each other about events which took place 1500 years ago

Dermot O'Sullivan
Dermot O'Sullivan
8 months ago

Why don’t you go to Gaza and start protesting Hamas’ actions?

Allison Barrows
Allison Barrows
8 months ago

What a nonsensical reply, like a child’s I know you are but what am I? The commenter is pointing out that adult Gazans, who voted for Hamas to run the government and clearly support their atrocities, have voiced not a single objection to what is occurring on their (supposed) behalf.
If Gazans asked the Israelis and, say, the Americans, to help them defeat and remove Hamas, my sympathies would include them. But they are too steeped in generations of Jew hatred to take that self-preserving tack, even if it were only practical and not fully sincere.

Malcolm Powell
Malcolm Powell
8 months ago

Absolutely

Peter Joy
Peter Joy
8 months ago

While I understand Hamas are far from universally popular in Gaza, I suspect most Gazans would be rather more interested in asking the ‘international community’ to remove – or at least bring to heel – the State that pogromed them out of their ancestral homeland; continually, seizes more land, violently, illegally but with impunity, in the illegally occupied and diminishing West Bank; blockades them by air, land and sea in the world’s largest open-air prison; controls almost all access in and out; periodically bombs their housing blocks to rubble, consistently inflicting casualties 10-15 times those of Hamas’s crude unguided rockets; and shoots peaceful unarmed protestors if they get too close to the ‘security zone’ it has imposed within the border of Gaza itself. But all the UN has ever done is pass impotent motions of censure, while ‘the US has Israel’s back’. If you think that after all that, after 56 years of that sort of humiliation, abuse, poverty, hopelessness, degradation and terror, any bunch of people are likely to demonstrate in sympathy for victims of a terror attack on the population of the State that has done that to them, enjoying just a few miles away a freedom and quality of life they can only dream of, you don’t have much insight into human nature. I mean, if you were in their place, would YOU?

Last edited 8 months ago by Peter Joy
Peter Joy
Peter Joy
8 months ago

Good grief. How on Earth would you know that not one Gazan has voiced ‘a single objection’ to the Hamas attack? How would YOU hear if they had? Got a supernatural hotline into 2.3 million mouths and minds, have you? Israel cut the internet off nearly three weeks ago, along with everything else. People there are now just trying to survive Israeli bombing and blockades… yet again.
‘That self-preserving tack’?! Have you seen the dump of a ghetto in which they are ‘preserved’? You really seem to think they are worms, drones, non-player characters who have a tenuous right to exist only in the context of the State of Israel’s demands and requirements. Cuba, Vietnam, Iran… the US, too, keeps falling for the fatuous notion that you can turn populations against their governments through bombing and sanctions. It never works. Like the Blitz and submarine blockade in England, it has the exact opposite effect.
In any case, they’ve not had an election in Gaza for many years – and even then, Gazans are no more universally and collectively responsible for the actions of a rotten government there than Israelis all are for those of their narrowly-elected, radical ethno-nationalist cabinet; or than I am for this lousy, useless Corporate-Communist excuse for a Tory government here in the UK.
You propose that Gazans – by some mechanism unspecified – should have mobilised to beg their Israeli armed gaolers to come in and, er, incur at least hundreds of Jewish casualties in an effort to overthrow Hamas (the only force fighting against said oppressors)? Really…? Fat chance of that. You are in the realms of fantasy. Bibi actually LIKED having Hamas in Gaza v Fatah in the WB, and the IDF had no interest in re-occupying the wretched place. Biden to send in the USMC to fight Hams? Oh, that’s a REAL winner, Allison….
In reality, you’re just looking for childish excuses to exempt Israel from the laws of armed conflict that has existed for decades in an effort to protect civilian life, and which (legally and morally at any rate) apply to all States – let along those that claim to be ‘democracies’.

Last edited 8 months ago by Peter Joy
Russell Sharpe
Russell Sharpe
8 months ago

This comment was surely meant in reply to J Bryant, not Andrew Vanbarner.

Dermot O'Sullivan
Dermot O'Sullivan
8 months ago
Reply to  Russell Sharpe

Not so Russell (unless I have fouled up again). My comment was directed at the last paragraph of AV’s comment.

Malcolm Powell
Malcolm Powell
8 months ago

Because I would be killed as an infidel

Malcolm Webb
Malcolm Webb
8 months ago

Andrew,
Surely the thought of free elections when a brutal military dictatorship has taken control
Is a pipe dream. Furthermore the life expectancy of an extremely brave resident of Gaza who openly sympathised with that dictorship’s sworn enemies would be very short indeed.
Is not the lesson that democracy, for all its imperfections, is what we should all strive to create and foster in all parts of the world? Israel is a democracy and if it’s neighbours were too it would be immeasurably better for Israelis and Arabs alike, as they would all then be able to openly express their opinions – including of the failings of their current leaders – and indeed change their leaders (maybe democracy’s greatest gift!) . Indeed I sense the Israelis may do just that when this war is done.

Arthur G
Arthur G
8 months ago
Reply to  Malcolm Webb

No, that’s wrong. When Egypt got a taste of democracy they immediately voted for the most radical Islamic party. It took a military coup to restore order, and some level of safety for Christian Egyptians and others (especially women) who don’t want to kow-tow to Islamic extremism.
Same story in Turkey. More democracy has led to a more radical, less liberal Gov’t. Turkey was better off when governed by Western-leaning military officers.
When the people are illiberal, democracy is not the answer.

Last edited 8 months ago by Arthur G
Malcolm Powell
Malcolm Powell
8 months ago
Reply to  Arthur G

I think that is correct. My understanding is that if elections were held in Saudi, the new government would make the current monarchy look liberal. THE PROBLEM IS ISLAM

Malcolm Webb
Malcolm Webb
8 months ago
Reply to  Arthur G

I have to disagree. Dictatorships of any kind are not the answer. Democracy, as I said has many imperfections, but if it can be fostered and maintained under the rule of law and with a free press it is far superior to unelected dictatorship. Also the leaders of democracies, being accountable to the people, tend not to initiate wars on other nations. The war against Iraq being one regrettable exception.

Peter Joy
Peter Joy
8 months ago

You place ‘innocent’ in sneer-quotes and complain of the lack of Gazan protests in favour of Israel – their blockader, jailer and periodic aerial bomber – against Hamas. Meh. Have you yourself protested Israel’s ever-ongoing illegal expropriations of Palestinian land in shrinking West Bank?
As for ‘The Israelis are very aware of the continual “anti-Zionist” slant of the major media, and will avoid giving the Palestinians any propaganda victories in the form of dead or injured Palestinian civilians.’ Well, I don’t know what you’ve been watching, but if that’s the Israelis aim they have failed in it already.

Yoram Mimoun
Yoram Mimoun
8 months ago
Reply to  J Bryant

Don’t forget that many people in the IDF are leftists, and will not accept to massacre civilians if there is no clear military justification, I know it’s not an absolute point but it’s an important aspect of the matter.

Rafi Stern
Rafi Stern
8 months ago
Reply to  Yoram Mimoun

By which you imply that us who are right of center, will accept the massacre of civilians?

Arthur G
Arthur G
8 months ago
Reply to  Yoram Mimoun

I’ve seen no evidence the IDF has any intention of “massacring civilians”. If Hamas persists in keeping their civilians as human shield around legitimate military targets, that’s no Israeli-driven massacre if they die. That’s a war crime by Hamas.

Peter Joy
Peter Joy
8 months ago
Reply to  Yoram Mimoun

Pfft! Leon Trotsky’s Red Army were leftists. So were the Khmer Rouge.
Leftists are no more inherently moral than rightists – and often less.

Last edited 8 months ago by Peter Joy
Allison Barrows
Allison Barrows
8 months ago
Reply to  J Bryant

Since Hamas has zero concern about civilian deaths, in fact, they need them, why should Israel?

Russell Sharpe
Russell Sharpe
8 months ago

Haven’t you answered your own question though? Hamas needs as many Gazan civilian deaths as possible, for its propaganda purposes; by the same token Israel needs as few as possible.
Of course it will still be blamed and denounced by a western media which functions as Hamas’ propaganda arm, to the point of reporting Hamas’ fictions and lies as if they are things which actually happened, or attributing Hamas bombing of Gazan civilians to Israel (or indeed not distinguishing between 5-year-old genuine innocents and 16-year-old combatants, by the use of the all-purpose weasel term ‘innocent children’). But that is no reason not to seek to reduce genuine grounds for such propaganda to a minimum.

Last edited 8 months ago by Russell Sharpe
Peter Joy
Peter Joy
8 months ago

That’s a childish but very revealing comment – and a sentiment we’re seeing a lot of from pro-Israel posters. So you’re fine with the IDF – ‘da most mowal army in da woild’, we are continually told – openly admitting to taking the same ‘don’t care’ approach to human life as it alleges Hamas does? OK, that’s clear, and doesn’t much surprise me.
But at the very least, it is catastrophically bad PR. With its long rap-sheet of war crimes, Israel is widely enough despised as it is, including in Europe, the US and particularly by the young, many Jews included. A rational Israeli government with an eye on long-term survival would not go out of its way to make that worse.
Trouble is, Israel has developed too much of a sense of impunity in respect of western opinion. Go on like this, and sooner or later, even the elite of Washington and Whitehall (probably both USSR-style bankrupt by 2030) will no longer be politically capable of providing diplomatic cover – and then a demographically dominant Egypt and Turkey and filthy rich, BRIC-member Saudi Arabia will start to get a lot less friendly….

Russell Sharpe
Russell Sharpe
8 months ago
Reply to  Peter Joy

openly admitting to taking the same ‘don’t care’ approach to human life as it alleges Hamas does?
“alleges”? Hamas themselves boasted of it, and even broadcast the barbarities in order that their supporters could get off on the spectacle of butchered Jews.