Hamas and Israel – The Madness of Incivility to Civilians

A nation whose people survived a holocaust is in grave danger of committing genocide. This madness must stop

Breakfast with Bwana

By Anil Madan

In Israel:

The bloodstains of the dead.

The silence of throats sliced.

The bodies of babies decapitated.

The anguish of a nation at another atrocity against Jews.

In Gaza:

The bloodstains of bodies blown up.

The silence of the dead.

The skeletons of buildings destroyed.

The anguish of Palestine at another atrocity against civilians.

In Israel and Gaza:

Death and destruction.

The unanswered calls of parents for their missing children.

The cries of children, orphaned, hungry, helpless.

The promise of a future with more death and destruction.

The unheard cries for justice.

The unheeded pleas to stop the madness.

Israel prepares for ground offensive in Hamas-ruled Gaza as death tolls on both sides surpass 1,200. Pic – Foreign Policy

In Israel: A massacre. An atrocity. Music at a festival interrupted by the staccato of gunfire and crumbling lives of young people shot to death. A massacre at a village – people shot to death in cold blood.

In Gaza: A siege. No power. No water. No food. Life itself interrupted by the staccato of bombs and crumbling buildings. Precision guided bombs causing imprecise and wanton damage. Is that killing in cold blood, or are we forbidden to suggest such a thing when a nation attacked is entitled to retaliate. When does entitlement to retaliate against the perpetrators become justification for destroying innocent civilians who have no say in where Hamas entrenches itself?

On Saturday, news came of the horrific terrorist attack by Hamas against Israel. Hundreds of Israeli civilians were slaughtered. The death toll would eventually rise to well over 1,000 Israelis and thousands injured and wounded. The death toll will surely rise. And Hamas holds hostages. In days to come, surely many more dead will be counted.

On Saturday, two friends generally sympathetic to the Palestinian cause (however that may be defined) sent me messages, the gist of which was that Israel’s ongoing oppression of the Palestinians is the justification for the actions taken by Hamas. Let me pause to say unequivocally that using the word “justification” in the same sentence as Hamas, is an affront to decency. This is a barbaric, terrorist organization whose sole purpose is to destroy Israel and kill Jews.

I responded with a question and an observation. My question: Are you trying to legitimize the atrocity that Hamas has committed? My observation: Hamas has made a huge mistake. Whatever justifications you may conjure up for what I see as atrocities, you have no idea what is about to be unleashed. You haven’t seen anything yet. My friends messaged back saying that I made no sense and to explain. I wrote back: Hamas has made a colossally stupid mistake. This is going to provoke a response that will be horrific and like nothing you have ever seen.

My friends engaged and asked me to explain further. I wrote: Bibi has no choice but to make the politicians’ response which is to wreak mayhem on the “enemy” which is Hamas, and worse, Israel has pretty much carte blanche to target whatever it designates as Hamas strongholds or areas from which it is conducting operations whether that be true or not. Hamas has allowed Bibi to put all issues of morality and proportionality aside and go on a destructive rampage.

Netanyahu’s government is now charged with the greatest intelligence and security failure. Right under the noses of the Mossad, Hamas amassed thousands of rockets and right in the face of the IDF, Hamas has been able to launch more than 2,500 rockets in one day and some 2,000 more since. You cannot have an event that is the second biggest killing of Jews since the Holocaust and expect Israel not to respond. You cannot expect Netanyahu to deflect from the intelligence and security failure with deflection and in a way designed to send a loud and clear message of deterrence – Do Not Mess With Israel.

Futility and helplessness

Let me pose to my readers the question I posed to another friend whose support for Hamas wavered somewhat in the face of its barbaric atrocities committed last Saturday. I asked: When we get to Wednesday or Thursday next week (and we are now at that point) and Israel has had a chance to mount a response, I’ll want to take you back to Friday last week and let you decide, if you were the leader of Hamas and knew what was going to happen, would you have carried out this attack?

When I told one of my Jewish friends about this, his response was: Darn right. He said: “I want to see a forceful response by Israel. I want to see Hamas wiped off the face of the earth.” I asked him: When we get to Wednesday or Thursday next week and Israel has had a chance to regroup and respond, you will undoubtedly cheer on Netanyahu’s promise to cripple Hamas’ ability to govern Gaza and to destroy forever its ability to threaten Israel, but will you be proud of the death of civilians and the rubble left? He asked: “What rubble?” I told him that I expect Netanyahu to unleash the equivalent of carpet bombing. 

When those in power choose to use the power at their disposal for death and destruction, whether it is by the atrocities they commit against innocent civilians, or the deployment of weapons, missiles and bombs, the rest of the world watches with a sense of futility and helplessness. The dilemma for Israel is that Hamas is embedded with the civilian population and airstrikes will produce collateral damage. In an area as densely packed as Gaza, the only way to avoid killing innocent civilians is to find a way other than airstrikes and bombs. Netanyahu chose to make the dramatic statement reminiscent of George W. Bush’s “shock and awe.”

It cannot be lost on any human that we are all destined to end our short sojourn on this planet by returning to dust. Recorded history has no account of anyone who has lived forever. Whether it is great tyrants like Genghis Khan, Adolph Hitler, or Stalin, or great men like Plato, Einstein, Beethoven, or Mozart, they are all gone. Yet, for some reason, since time immemorial, man has been unable to make the journey to the predicted end hand-in-hand and in peace with his fellow man. Instead, we spend our time finding new ways to hasten the arrival of the other to that end. Whether it is over land, religion, minerals, oil, wealth, or just the difference in the way the other looks, we are unable to contain ourselves.

It is the greatest irony that we human beings recognize that sometimes, we can go too far but are unable to stop ourselves. So, for example, instead of agreeing on rules to prevent war altogether, we find a way to agree on rules for treating prisoners of war. Whereas it is okay to kill the other guy as he is trying to kill you on the battlefield, once you have captured him, you must treat him with respect and dignity. Ah, the Geneva Conventions show how civilized we are. Or, as Israel says, it respects the rules of war and that excessive civilian casualties are to be avoided. Others say that a response must be proportionate. But how many civilian casualties are excessive, and when does proportion end? When just one innocent civilian is killed? Or are we willing to tolerate the death of 100 civilians. 1,000? More? Are we willing to tolerate the displacement of 250,000 Gazans and to have the bombing continue? And are we willing to tolerate the ongoing launching of rockets by Hamas into Israel’s civilians?

What is excessive?


The American response has been President Biden’s unequivocal support of Israel. He is reported to have told Netanyahu during a telephone conversation that Israel must be careful not to cause excessive civilian casualties. Not that Netanyahu will pay any heed.

Someone asked me if America’s support for Israel is because of the Jewish lobby. Of course, this reveals his bias. Maybe the answer is simpler. It’s not just that 14 Americans are among those killed and many remain hostages in Hamas’ hands. Perhaps it is nothing more complicated that as between Israel and Hamas, there is no choice. America cannot equivocate in the face of the barbarism and cruel savagery of Hamas.

Israel has promised a siege of Gaza cutting off power, water and food. Trapped in a piece of land with no exit, where do the people go? Nobody has any answers.

Hamas promises to execute one of the hostages for every building bombed without warning. Israel promised not to turn on the power, and not to allow supplies of water, fuel, or food until all the hostages have been released. A deadly impasse. Will Hamas yield as the humanitarian crisis its actions have perpetrated goes beyond its already desperate state? Will Netanyahu yield when Israelis shed more tears at every additional killing? Remember we are dealing with savages and barbarians in Hamas and with a politician obsessed with holding on to power in Netanyahu. There is little hope.

Ayatollah Khamenei, the slime of a cleric, supposedly a man of God said: “We kiss the hands of those who planned the attack on the Zionist regime,” as he wore a Palestinian scarf, in his first televised speech since the attack. He added: “The Zionist regime’s own actions are to blame for this disaster.” Khamenei denied any Iranian involvement, but Hamas’ representative in Lebanon stated that Hamas was in active coordination with Iran before, during and after the attack against Israel.

China issued a muted response and as might be expected, Vladimir Putin blamed the U.S. and its “failed policies in the Middle East.”

Unquestionably, Hamas went too far. It now seems that Netanyahu’s political instincts have led Israel also to go too far. A ground invasion of Gaza and taking the time to root out Hamas and disable its offensive capability would be tedious, time consuming, and expensive in terms of Israeli casualties. Far easier, it is, to pass that burden on to the Palestinian civilians. If there is nothing left to rule, Hamas’ ability to govern is perforce destroyed. And the need to deflect called for something more immediate than a long, drawn-out solution.

At the geopolitical level, there is greater danger lurking. Khamenei has called Israel an evil cancer that must be destroyed. Iran is on the verge of getting a nuclear weapon. Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman recently said in an interview with Fox News that if Iran gets a nuclear weapon, Saudi Arabia will be obliged to get its own nuclear weapons. Saudi Arabia understands that its recent rapprochement with Iran is no cause for complacency when it comes to facing a nuclear armed regime led by mad clerics. But what if Iran decides to unleash a nuclear weapon on Israel?

Unthinkable? Think again. Once Hamas is crippled, surely Israel will turn to disabling Iran’s ability to destroy the Jewish homeland as it has promised to do. The Saudi news agency reported that MBS called Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi to discuss the Hamas attack on Israel. Aside from the obligatory statement about maintaining Islamic unity and condemning the U.S. “green light” for Israel, the agency reported that MBS stressed the “necessity of adhering to the principles of international humanitarian law and expressed deep concern for the dire humanitarian situation in Gaza and its impact on civilians.”

The Saudi crown prince also said the kingdom was exerting “maximum effort to engage with all international and regional parties to halt the ongoing escalation.” The call, highly unusual for MBS to have made, may have been a not-so-subtle signal to Iran to stay on the sidelines and not expand the situation into a regional conflict. Else, there was no reason for MBS to discuss anything with Raisi.

Israel faces a delicate task here. Taking out Hamas’ operational and offensive capabilities is imperative. But rather than carpet bombing Gaza, Israel should have gone about this task the hard way. In due course, the world will come to condemn Netanyahu’s over the top response and Israel will be the worse off for it as the task of rebuilding Gaza and restoring a sense of humanity for the Palestinians will ultimately fall to Israel. That is, if any Palestinians survive this humanitarian crisis of a people confined without food, water, fuel, and hope, as Israel continues to rain bombs down on them.

Let us once again go back to last Friday. If you had the choice of today’s outcome or no attack by Hamas, what would you have counseled Hamas to do? Or not to do? With at least 2,000 dead in Israel, 2,000 or more dead in Gaza, and 250,000 Gazans displaced, and their homes reduced to rubble, in hindsight, it seems obvious, doesn’t it?

A nation whose people survived a holocaust is in grave danger of committing genocide. This madness must stop.


Mauritius Times ePaper Friday 13 October 2023

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