OpinionIsrael at War

Who are the Gaza civilians?

As children, they are exposed to anti-Israeli textbooks and terrorist training camps. As adults, they allow Hamas to use their schools, mosques and hospitals for arsenals and rocket launch sites.

Palestinian supporters of Hamas pass out sweets in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on March 17, 2019, after a terrorist attack in which a Palestinian man killed a 19-year-old Israel Defense Forces soldier, stole his weapon and used it to shoot two others near Ariel, in the West Bank. Photo by Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90.
Palestinian supporters of Hamas pass out sweets in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on March 17, 2019, after a terrorist attack in which a Palestinian man killed a 19-year-old Israel Defense Forces soldier, stole his weapon and used it to shoot two others near Ariel, in the West Bank. Photo by Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90.
Mitchell Bard
Mitchell Bard
Mitchell Bard is a foreign-policy analyst and an authority on U.S.-Israel relations who has written and edited 22 books, including The Arab Lobby, Death to the Infidels: Radical Islam’s War Against the Jews and After Anatevka: Tevye in Palestine.

Let’s state a few things at the outset.

  • Many Palestinians oppose Hamas and violence.
  • Every possible effort should be made to protect civilians in the Gaza Strip.
  • No one residing in Gaza would be in danger if Hamas had not launched rockets into Israel and committed a massacre of Jews not seen since the Holocaust.

What else do we know about the people of Gaza?

The people elected Hamas in the last election held in the Palestinian Authority, and surveys consistently have shown that Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh is more popular than P.A. head Mahmoud Abbas (58% to 37%) in September. Abbas is the man the West insists should be Israel’s peace partner despite being a rabid antisemite who runs a kleptocracy and has been told by 78% of the public he should resign.

Is there any doubt that Gazans know who and what they are voting for? They can read the Hamas Charter, which contains a passage that is often found in textbooks and sermons:

The Prophet Allah, bless him and grant him salvation, has said: “The Day of Judgement will not come about until Muslims fight the Jews (killing the Jews), when the Jew will hide behind stones and trees. The stones and trees will say, “O Muslims, O Abdullah, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him.”

The charter says: “There is no solution for the Palestine question except through Jihad. Initiatives, proposals, and international conferences are all a waste of time and vain endeavors. Palestine is an Islamic land.”

Given the dictatorial rule of Hamas, which quashes dissent, it is difficult to know how many Palestinians oppose their rule. We know that when there are rare protests, as earlier this year, they were not over Hamas terrorism but the supply of electricity and gas. They also object to the diversion of millions of dollars of Qatari money meant for humanitarian aid that Hamas diverts for its purposes. Hamas deducts roughly 15% of Qatari money earmarked for the poor.

Have there been any protests when the terrorists fired any of the thousands of rockets into Israel even though Gazans knew the attacks would provoke Israeli airstrikes that would worsen their lives? Did any mothers wailing now condemn Hamas for slaughtering Israeli children on Oct. 7? How many ensure that their children stay home instead of joining the terrorists? How many praise their children when they murder Jews?

Do you remember ever seeing a peace demonstration in Gaza? I remember the rallies cheering the terrorists on 9/11.

Palestinians and their supporters justify Hamas terrorism as resistance to “occupation.” Except Israel does not occupy one inch of Gaza. And why is it that Christians who live in the same circumstances in Gaza and the West Bank never engage in terror?

All the Hamas murderers were children once. How did they turn into monsters? Could it be from the steady diet of antisemitic indoctrination they have received from imams in mosques, from teachers and textbooks at UNRWA schools, and from summer training camps?

Take the Hamas-affiliated imam who said: “Our doctrine in fighting you [the Jews] is that we will totally exterminate you. We will not leave a single one of you alive, because you are alien usurpers of the land and eternal mercenaries.”

UNRWA schools “regularly call for the murder of Jews and create teaching materials that glorify terrorism, encourage martyrdom, demonize Israelis and incite antisemitism,” according to the latest report by UN Watch and IMPACT-se.

Gaza parents send their children to summer camps where this summer’s theme was “Jerusalem Shield.” Palestinian scholar Bassam Tawil reported that campers in Gaza are given military training, “such as practice with knives and firearms, hand-to-hand combat, and marching and foot drills. The children also stage plays and enact scenes of fighting and capturing Israeli soldiers or firing rockets at Israel.” They learn to assemble and disassemble weapons, tromp on Israeli flags and see pictures of terrorists who murdered Israelis as examples to look up to.

Given this upbringing, what would the children of Gaza do to the Jews if they had the opportunity? We don’t have to guess, thanks to one Hamas video of Palestinian children terrorizing a kidnapped Israeli child.

Israel tries to avoid civilian casualties, but what do the Gazans do? Many flee once Israel retaliates for being attacked, but until that time, they allow Hamas to stay in power. They allow Hamas to use their schools, mosques and hospitals for headquarters, arsenals and rocket-launch sites.

Paradoxically, the reaction in Gaza to the Palestinian Islamic Jihad rocket falling on a hospital on Tuesday and killing hundreds of people may best illustrate their complicity. Instead of blaming the terrorists for this atrocity, they immediately point to Israel. They didn’t need any sophisticated technology or radars to know that Israel was not responsible because they could see with their own eyes that there were no Israeli jets or drones to drop a bomb. They also know from experience that Israeli airstrikes are precise and that the air force would not bomb a parking lot, let alone one next to a hospital, with no warning and no terrorists in the vicinity.

Television is showing doctors and hospital staff in Gaza about the conditions they are working in and their fears. Reporters ignore the fact that hospitals and ambulances are often used by Hamas, which makes them legitimate targets according to international law. Though few Western outlets reported it, it was well-known that during “Operation Protective Edge” in 2014, Hamas used the Shifa hospital in Gaza as an operations base/bunker. The hospital continued to see patients as the Hamas operatives congregated in the bunker underneath. A Finnish reporter was reporting from the hospital when she witnessed a rocket launched from the parking lot. Still, Israel did not bomb the hospital.

This hospital had been a Hamas headquarters for many years, and in 2006, PBS aired a documentary that showed terrorists roaming the hallways and offices of the hospital. In the past, the Palestinian Health Ministry (as distinguished from the Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry) accused Hamas of taking control of areas in Shifa Hospital and using rooms for interrogation, torture and imprisonment.

No one, least of all Israelis, wants to see non-combatants harmed, but let’s not make the mistake of considering all the people of Gaza “innocent.”

The opinions and facts presented in this article are those of the author, and neither JNS nor its partners assume any responsibility for them.
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