Monday, July 28, 2014

The War in Gaza

For those interested in the situation in Gaza there's an interesting piece in the Jerusalem Post about the Maglan unit, an Israeli commando force which operates behind the lines:
Operating behind enemy lines in Gaza during the conflict with Hamas, the elite Maglan unit has attacked dozens of terrorist cells that fired on the IDF, destroyed areas used to launch rockets and killed and injured 40 terrorists in the last few days.

A senior source from the unit revealed that its members targeted Hamas gunmen waiting in ambush for the IDF’s ground forces, striking the threats before the soldiers passed by the would-be attackers.

The Maglan unit has detected and destroyed forward Hamas posts and rocket launchers. It detected a cross-border underground attack tunnel leading into Israel from Gaza, and found 20 bomb-laden, booby-trapped Gazan homes. The unit also uncovered a large quantity of weapons in raids.

The source said the company is operating in a heavily built up area, characterized by residential buildings, orchards surrounded by buildings, and tunnels. Hamas planted its military assets deep inside the very fabric of Gazan civilian life, he said.

“Hamas operatives and area commanders, as well as their rocket cell members, keep one part of their home for normal family life. A second part of the home is the command center, or the start of a tunnel. Daily life and military infrastructure are totally interwoven,” the source said.

“This is the source of the complexity we face in our combat. We must overcome the challenge of differentiating between Hamas and the civilian population,” he added. The Maglan unit has met the challenge, having detected a series of Hamas assets, he said.
The spokesperson also noted that the Hamas fighters seem to have lost their appetite for fighting Israeli soldiers:
The source added that in recent days, a recognizable wave of demoralization has washed over Hamas’s combat battalions. “They simply escape, leaving behind weapons and suicide bomb vests that were laid out for battle. This morning we stormed a position, and they just weren’t there. I don’t see a determined enemy. We have encountered stronger pockets of fighting in the past. But now, I would not give them a high grade for fighting spirit.”
I came across a report elsewhere that claimed that Hamas fighters are often abandoned by their officers and left to face the Israelis alone. In any case, one of the objectives of the Maglan unit is to identify and destroy the tunnels:
Hamas built a network of tunnels that begin a few kilometers away from the Israeli border, and pass under the frontier, the source said, in a bid to enable dozens of terrorists to infiltrate the country. In response, the IDF has used a wide array of firepower and ground units to tackle the challenge, employing a rapid maneuver to “shatter the enemy and deny it freedom of operation in closed areas, where it is based,” he said.

“We move in as quickly as possible, engage in close combat, and prevent the enemy from using its tunnels to enter our territory,” the source said.

He recalled seizing large numbers of weapons, suicide bomb belts, and projectile launchers in recent raids.

“Hamas has turned tunneling into a national profession. They lean on highly skilled engineers to do this. We’re dealing with all of these threats through close-range combat,” the source added.

Hamas has built “defensive layers around the tunnels. They have attack positions in mosques, in the homes of operatives, and tunnels that allow terrorists to approach our forces,” he said.
As for the attempts to avoid civilian casualties these are complicated by the use of civilians and their homes as shields and weapons repositories.
“I have not entered one civilian home that did not have weapons, suicide belts, or booby traps in it,” the source said. Any home found to be containing women and children leads to an immediate halt of the raid, he said.

“We hold our fire, there’s no question. We don’t take chances with children and women. We allow them to leave, and then continue the raid. That’s who we are, and this is the source of our strength,” he said.
Israelis try as hard as they can to avoid harming civilians while Hamas and the other Palestinian terror groups are trying as hard as they can to ensure that the Israelis inadvertently kill Palestinian civilians. They're also trying as hard as they can to kill Israeli civilians. How much outrage did the world express about Hamas' use of human shields and the rockets they and their associates launched against Israeli cities? Very little.

When the Israelis kill a Palestinian civilian who has been forced to remain in a house from which rockets are being fired, the western media is in high dudgeon. When the Palestinians force that same civilian to remain in a targeted building or shoot two thousand rockets at Israeli children, the world yawns.

Here's a thought experiment: Imagine that instead of Russian backed Ukrainian terrorists accidentally shooting down the Malaysian airliner and killing almost 300 people suppose Israelis had accidentally shot it down. What would the world's reaction have been? Why is the United Nations not demanding that Russia stop meddling in the Ukraine and cease supplying the terrorists there with weapons with the same fervor with which they call upon Israel to stand down? Why are there no riots in the major cities of the world against this horrible deed?

Why, on the other hand, when several dozen people are killed in an accidental strike on a Gazan hospital (which may have been due to a failed Palestinian rocket) do anti-Israel and anti-semitic protests break out all across the globe? Why do people tisk when airliners are shot down but demand the deaths of Israelis when a hospital is accidentally bombed? Why is there not universal outrage at Hamas for building tunnels directly under Israeli kindergartens? Why is the world not outraged at threats to Israeli civilians by high-ranking officers in the Iranian military

This is a pretty good illustration of a reprehensible double standard if not of arrant moral bankruptcy on the part of those who condemn Israel for the war in Gaza.