10 ways Israel justifies killing Palestinians whenever it likes and however it likes

Israel will continue killing Palestinians with impunity, safe in the knowledge that to much of the outside world, some lives will always matter more than others.

Dead child in Gaza

MODERN WAR is rarely limited to the ‘battlefield’ or war zone.   Today’s wars are also waged in tv news studios, chat shows and op ed columns, in what the Pentagon calls ‘public diplomacy’ or ‘information warfare’ that attempts to shape the way that war is perceived, and enlist the active support or passive acquiescence of the wider public for one side or the other.

The Israeli assault on Gaza is no exception.  In purely statistical terms, Operation Protective Edge is a grossly unequal conflict that ought to be considered an obscenity worthy of universal condemnation.  According to the latest UN report, 114 Palestinians have been killed and 680 wounded, of whom two thirds are women and children.  In addition 512 homes have been destroyed, displacing 3, 200 Palestinians, and another 350,000 have been affected by damage to water infrastructure.

In the last week the IDF has carried out 700 air raids, and fired 1,100 missiles, 100 tank shells, and 350 naval shellings, at a range of targets that include the private homes of Hamas leaders,  Hamas-run charities or institutions, a media office, a technical centre, a Kuwait-funded bank, and  the al-Wafa Medical Rehabiliation Centre in Beit Lahia, which was hit by four Israeli missiles yesterday, killing two female patients.

The Israeli military claims that Palestinian armed groups have fired 686 rockets at Israel, of which 142 have been intercepted by Israel’s US-made ‘Iron Dome’ missile protection system.  So far there has been one recorded Israeli fatality as a result of these attacks, an elderly lady in Haifa who died of a heart attack.

At first sight,  these statistics suggest a stunningly unequal conflict that ought to make a mockery of Israel’s claims that it is defending itself from Palestinian aggression.   But over the last week official Israeli spokesmen and pro-Israeli commentators have filled the news studios and commentary pages and presented a very different version of these events, in order to make this disparity seem acceptable.

These efforts, as usual, have been largely accepted without criticism or analysis by Western governments or the mainstream media, and this not-inconsiderable achievement rests on the following propaganda tropes,  which have been replayed again and again

1) That Israel is not attacking Palestinians but terrorists.   Hamas is a ‘terrorist organization’ and terrorists, as the world knows well, can – and must – be killed in order to make the whole world a better place.   In the eyes of Israel and its supporters, Hamas is particularly evil, because its charter calls for the destruction of Israel, because it is linked to Iran and Hezbollah etc, etc.

If Hamas has no other purpose except ‘terror’, then it becomes logical that it must be destroyed, and Israel can claim, in the moronic and meaningless jargon that all its representatives like to use, that its military operations are only directed against ‘terror targets’ and ‘terror infrastructure’ or ‘command-and-control’ centers.

Such representations ignore the fact that Hamas is also the elected government in Gaza, which means that any official institutions can also be considered ‘terror targets’ by Israel,  and any Hamas official or anyone in any government building can be considered a ‘terror target’ regardless of whether he/she is directly involved in any military activities against Israel.

2) That rocket attacks by Hamas are acts of ‘terror’, but Israel’s attempt to bludgeon the population of Gaza into submission is not ‘terror’ but ‘war’, and in war civilian casualties are inevitable, or ‘regrettable’, as Israeli spokesmen like to put it.

3) That Israel is only exercising its sovereign right to self-defence and responding to Palestinian aggression.  Absent from these arguments, which I have head shouted again and again by blustering Israeli spokesmen during the ‘tv war’ of the last week, is any mention of the occupation of the West Banik or the blockade and occupation-from-a-distance of Gaza,  or the colonial domination of the Palestinians as a people, which continues to be the prime cause of violence in the ‘Israeli-Palestinian conflict.’

4) That Hamas fired rockets first – an argument that ignores the chain of events leading to the conflict, including the incredible manipulation of the Israeli teenager murders by the Israeli government, the military operations conducted by Israel against Hamas facilities in the West Bank, and the absolute antipathy of the Netanyahu government to the rapprochement between Hamas and Fatah.

5) That the two sides are equal in military terms – an argument that ignores the homemade Qassam or more recent Syrian made M-302 rockets, used by Hamas and other armed groups,  which are unguided, inaccurate, and rarely able to hit their targets. In Gaza, by contrast, more than 1 million Palestinians are trapped in a human cage, watched over by an all-powerful, all-seeing Israeli military equipped with armed drones and guided missiles that can befired directly into the living rooms of its enemies

6) That Hamas uses civilians as ‘human shields.’  This argument is mostly based on a video by a Hamas spokesman calling on the population of Gaza to stand on the rooves of targeted houses ‘to protect our homes.’   This video does not in itself prove that Gazans are willing to do this, but to claim, as Israel’s ambassador Ron Prosser has done, that such exhortations are’ exploiting our concern for human life’ is a typically warped and deceitful representation.

The ‘human shields’ argument has become a key component of the Israeli propaganda narrative.  Last week I saw a spokesman from the Israeli embassy in London telling a Palestinian blogger from Gaza that he ‘felt sorry for her’ because of this.  When she denied that there were human shields, he called her a liar.

There is no statistical evidence to suggest that Gazans have been killed on the rooves of their homes.    But if a family were given one of the IDF’s famous text-message or ‘tap-on-the-roof’ warnings announcing that its house was about to be bombed, and the family or anyone else went onto the roof, then the Israeli army should not be bombing them, period.

7) That Palestinians are collectively locked into a culture of martyrdom and death, and have no desire to live themselves, an argument that was made by CNN presenter Jake Tapper last week.  The corollary of this argument is that Israelis care about their people, but the Palestinians don’t.   And if Palestinians themselves don’t want to live, runs the clear implication, then why should it be incumbent on Israel to protect them?

8) That civilian deaths are ‘inevitable in any war’, but that Israel always takes more care than any other army to prevent them and ‘desperately’ tries to avoid civilian casualties.  This argument ignores the population density and topography of the Gaza Strip, which means that civilians will always die in even the most ‘surgical’ military assault.  It ignores the blurring of the distinctions between ‘terrorists’ and civilians when the homes of Hamas members are targeted.

Last but not least,  this argument ignores the broader forms of anti-civilian violence that are always an implicit component of Israeli military operations in the Gaza Strip, in terms of the destruction of property, the disruption of the local economy, water and food supplies, psychological intimidation, etc, and the extent to which the killing of civilians and the destruction of civilian property is intended to serve Israeli military and political objectives, by turning the Palestinian population against Hamas –  a policy that Israeli has practiced on numerous other occasions.

9) That those who are criticizing Israel for killing Palestinians are really anti-Semites who hate Jews, an argument that was recycled yet again byIndependent columnist Howard Jacobson last week. This argument attempts to shift the parameters of the debate away from what Israel is doing to Palestinians, and tap into Western guilt about what was once done to Jews (and might be again presumably, if the bombs don’t continue to fall in Gaza and Hamas is not stopped.)

10) That Israel wants peace, whereas Hamas doesn’t – an argument that is often accompanied by the assertion that Hamas has ‘chosen’ the war in order to present itself as a victim and escape its ‘isolation’.    So Israel is fighting for peace and Hamas is fighting for war.

All these narrative devices have combined, once again, to transform Palestinians into the equivalent of killable minor characters in a violent Hollywood movie or tv drama, who can be shot and blown to bits with impunity so that Israel can make itself feel better, while Western governments wring their hands and make lazy calls for ‘restraint on both sides’ or extend their solidarity to the government that is killing them.

And until that narrative changes, Israel will continue to demonstrate the absolute impunity that it has enjoyed for so long, to kill Palestinians when it likes and however it likes, safe in the knowledge that to much of the outside world, some lives will always matter more than others.

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  • donr1x

    another anti jewish media outlet.

    I cannot find where it says how many bomb shelters the Pals have in the Gaza strip?????

    I am no jew but i do believe in neutral reporting

  • TarekAziz

    Why on earth with all the foreign aid money pouring into the Gaza strip from the US, Iran, Saudi Arabia and the likes you don’t see any infrastructure or, for that matter, jobs there?! Israel keeps supplying electricity, gas, gasoline and water to the strip, nearly for free, while all the aid money goes to buying guns and ammo and training children to be soldiers instead of rebuilding Gaza into the flourishing city it could have been?!

    • Iqbal Naiyer

      @ Tarek, do your own due diligent before posting. First Gaza have total embargo for everything, from both side of the border ( Israel and Egypt) nothing can come and go no matter what the world is saying, second, United States aid to Gaza has been for past few years are $0.00 and rest of the Muslim world cut their funding due to the pressure from United States to bring Hamas Government down. This is total sickness from Muslim countries and I never count Western world and US, if they really care for Palestinian they shouldn;t be awarding and creating Israel State in the first place.

  • chocopot

    Is there any sane, rational perosn who actually believes any of the garbage stated in this so-called article?

    • Frank Shiffer

      I believe it, and have pictures of it. With Israel’s logic, since US inner cities harbor gangs that kill indiscriminately, the government has the right to missile and drone strike anyone anyplace in the inner cities. I hope I see the day when Hamas uses real weapons of destruction not these weapons that have little or no affect. The death tolls support my position, your’s is propaganda. Down with Israel.

      • bhaskar

        The only way israel can remain peace is either by ending jews or palestines people lives.

  • ArtBrecher

    The author of this hit piece on Israel does realize, of course, that if Hamas would simply stop firing rockets into Israel there would be no Israeli attacks on Gaza. I’m also guessing the author realizes that Hamas is using schools, hospitals, mosques and civilian homes as rocket launching platforms. Is the author suggesting that Israel should not defend herself against attack? What does the author think would happen if, for example, Mexico started firing rockets into California hitting San Diego, Long Beach and Los Angeles. Does the author think that the U.S. would not respond? That ANY country in the world would not respond if they were under constant rocket fire? What would Germany do if France started firing rockets at Berlin? If England started firing rockets at France? The author of this hit piece on Israel is obviously deranged. Oh yeah, one final thought; why would the IDF call or drop leaflets on Gaza warning the citizens of upcoming attacks if all Israel wanted to do was kill Palestinians?

    • Iqbal Naiyer

      @ Art, Nathayahu stole the opportunity to attack Gaza as it started when three Israelis kid was kidnapped and this was a simply the police matter and turn into Military operations Just FYI, Hamas and Abbas was supporting the efforts to solve that crime but again no one knows who kidnapped and killed those Israelis kids but we do know who killed Palestinian kid and who are killing innocent woman, children and disabled civilian in Gaza. so don;t tell me that moral and how ethical these IDF killers and ruthless Israelis government are. Isrelis literally created Gaza as the biggest prison camp on this planet earth for many years and control every aspect of Gazan life. I am surprise even today Gazan have so much patients, they should have revolt a long time ago and defend whatever means they have and fight back with most powerful ruthless and cunning army of the world, sooner or later Isreal will pay for holocoust they have been creating as no country ever enjoyed their atrocity and not to get punished. Time will tell so just wait and watch.

      • bhaskar

        if u know how ceasefire was restored , u will kill urself in shame. The ceasefire came into picture with exactly same terms as that of beginning of war. It simply tells us that Hamas has no shame in waging war and killing its citizens too in the name of spy game. If those palestines killed by hamas are spies then these spies are responsible for the gazans fate and not israel .

        • Iqbal Naiyer

          @Bhaskar, either you are a sick minded Muslim haters individual or you are a Israelis agent, in either case you are a bigot.

  • bhaskar

    if palestines can justify human bomb as safe haven why on earth they are complaining now. The embargo on all sides is to protect israel from hamas destructive attitude and egypt also thinks so now.
    The gazans do not fear death in the hands of israel but fear deaths in the hands of hamas for being israel spies.
    If hamas thinks to wage jihad against israel only solution then atfirst they should ask all the palestine people living in gaza to vacate their homes instead of israel calling them to vacate.
    if gazans wants to live in peace then gazans should openly shoot out hamas hideouts . – U CAN C the Difference. the peace comes over entire middle east in no time.

  • bhaskar

    how many hamas leaders were killed in war ? if the figure is much more than that expected.,it means gazans can live in peace for some more time otherwise gazans will soon have to face bombings once again. the small child is killed while the big dog is living .. shame on hamas attitude which uses children as human shields while they are happy hiding deep in tunnels.

  • bhaskar

    A peace of Advice to Hamas : it is better to work under Israel jews then try to work for god. God is very cunning, he wants more blood of palestines to quench his thirst than jews as jews blood is not pure.

  • Big Bad Johnson

    According to the Arab world, who want nothing to do with them, ‘Palestinians’ must be a lower species. How else would you explain the lack of any substantial support for them by the Arab world. Bomb away, says the Arab world!