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Of all the unlikely stories I thought I would ever read in the New York Times this was one of them. Normally I expect the Times to take the most left-leaning perspective and just slam Israel for anything that it does especially when it comes to Palestinians. It makes me wonder why I even bother to read the New York Times anymore (or the Washington Post for that matter). But this story just had my jaw dropping. Here was a semi-balanced piece that somehow slipped through the Times’ editor’s fingers. Here’s just a sample:

Hamas, with training from Iran and Hezbollah, has used the last two years to turn Gaza into a deadly maze of tunnels, booby traps and sophisticated roadside bombs. Weapons are hidden in mosques, schoolyards and civilian houses, and the leadership’s war room is a bunker beneath Gaza’s largest hospital

(Erlanger, Steven, “A Gaza War Full of Traps and Trickery“, The New York Times, January 10, 2009)

Who would have thought that Hamas would hide their weapons inside of mosques, schoolyards and civilian houses. And on top of that, running their war from a bunker underneath a hospital! Isn’t this what Israel has been saying all along…and said about Hezbollah’s conduct of their operations during the war in the north of Israel 2 and 1/2 years ago? But it didn’t matter to the New York Times that that was the case…in their editor’s minds Israel was still in the wrong for even daring to fight. But it gets better,

Unwilling to take Israel’s bait and come into the open, Hamas militants are fighting in civilian clothes; even the police have been ordered to take off their uniforms. The militants emerge from tunnels to shoot automatic weapons or antitank missiles, then disappear back inside, hoping to lure the Israeli soldiers with their fire.

In one apartment building in Zeitoun, in northern Gaza, Hamas set an inventive, deadly trap. According to an Israeli journalist embedded with Israeli troops, the militants placed a mannequin in a hallway off the building’s main entrance. They hoped to draw fire from Israeli soldiers who might, through the blur of night vision goggles and split-second decisions, mistake the figure for a fighter. The mannequin was rigged to explode and bring down the building.

In an interview, the reporter, Ron Ben-Yishai, a senior military correspondent for the newspaper Yediot Aharonot, said soldiers also found a pile of weapons with a grenade launcher on top. When they moved the launcher, “they saw a detonator light up, but somehow it didn’t go off.”

(Erlanger, Steven, “A Gaza War Full of Traps and Trickery“, The New York Times, January 10, 2009)

Here is how Hamas really works. And if it’s not enough for the world to read it in the New York Times (as the saying goes “you can’t believe everything you read”) then here’s a video showing how Hamas booby trapped a school and a zoo to blow it up when Israeli soldiers entered it…a school where children learn

While I’m saddened by the tragedy that the everyday Palestinian suffers in Gaza, the Israelis are not the ones who are fighting dirty. It’s the Hamas terrorists who feel that civilian shields, booby trapped houses and schools and launching rockets and mortars from civilian areas are legitimate fighting techniques. They’re the ones who violate international law and perpetrate war crimes against humanity. Israel cannot tolerate rockets being rained down upon its citizenry — not on a sporadic basis and certainly not on a continual basis.

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Oh, this is too funny…Al-Jazeera interviews this guy as an expert on international law and he turns out to say exactly what they don’t want him to say.

Whoops…I guess that ruins their effort to portray the Israeli action in Gaza as being illegal. Israel is rightly responding to Hamas’ provocation by firing their rockets against civilian targets in the Israeli communities near the Gaza border. The effort by the Al-Jazeera anchor to simply state that Israel’s action are illegal simply because of the possibility of collatoral civilian casualties does not fly. If civilian collatoral casualties in a military action were a war crime then no country would be capable of defending itself against terrorist organizations like Hamas since inevitably there would be the possibility of civilian casualties due to the response. The Al-Jazeera anchor’s logic would give free reign to Hamas and Hezbollah to attack with impunity since they always operate from civilian areas.

I’m sorry for the loss of life in Gaza. It’s sad that women, children, and non-combatant men are dying because they are caught in the middle. But Israel is doing everything it can do to minimize the loss of civilian life in the area. War, however, is a messy thing — if that wasn’t the case then there would be no real reason to avoid war. Invariably there will be civilian losses and that is deeply regrettable. But it’s amazing how the world community says nothing when it’s Israeli lives being lost due to rocket fire from Hamas and then cries a terrible cry when Palestinian civilians die because Israel is responding.

Israel has been striking back at Hamas institutions in the Gaza strip in retaliation for continual rocket fire on Israeli communities that border the Gaza strip. And yet in Europe there are loud and vociferous protests against Isreal. It wasn’t Israel that started this…Hamas is directly to blame for this exchange and yet the rest of the world immediately goes and condemns Israel. Why?

I mean, I expect the Arab street to rally behind the Gazans and Hamas as they see this is “naked Israeli agression” and the Muslim religious leaders are calling for vengence against Israel and Israeli targets worldwide, but what I can’t understand is how the world can say that it’s ok for rockets to fall, day-in and day-out, on Israeli communities — where people live their daily lives in terror — and when Israel tries to put an end to these attacks that it is the aggressor. Typically the words thrown out by the left wing groups are that Israel is committing “crimes against humanity” and that it’s violating International law. But let’s look at the law.

First off, the shelling of Israeli civilian population centers near Gaza has been going on for well over 8 years. Hamas, a terrorist organization, started the latest round of their aggression through the initial use of armed force against Israeli civilians and non-combatant Jews once the “truce” ended in November. This is a clear violation of the United Nations charter and is evidence of agression which, by International Law, is defined as the “the most serious and dangerous form of illegal use of force” (UN Resolution 3314 (XXIX). Definition of Aggression). The UN further demands that states combat the use of terrorism and reaffirm “unequivocal condemnation of all acts, methods and practices of terrorism as criminal and unjustifiable, regardless of their motivation, in all their forms and manifestations, wherever and by whomever committed.” (UNSC resolutions 1269, 1368,1373, 1377).

Israel’s response is further supported by statements made by the former President of the International Court of Justice, Judge Stephen Schwebel, who noted that

[i]n the case of conduct adopted for punitive purposes…it is self-evident that the punitive action and the wrong should be commensurate with each other, but in the case of action taken for the specific purpose of halting and repelling an armed attack (emphasis added), this does not mean that the action should be more or less commensurate with the attack. Its lawfulness cannot be measured except by its capacity for achieving the desired result.

(Schwebel, Judge Stephen, Nicaragua vs. U.S., 1986 I.C.J. 14, 259 (June 27), quoted in “Draft Articles on State Responsibility – Comments of the Government of the United States of America”, U.S. State Department, http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/28993.pdf, March 1, 2001)

Israel is responding to continuous provocation by Hamas from Gaza and it is responding appropriately in order to end the rocket attacks of the past 8 years. It never ceases to amaze me that the European public is so willing to cry out in outrage over the fact that Israel is doing the very thing that they would demand if it was, say, Russia lobbing missles over it’s border into Europe. When will the world see that the Palestinian Arabs (and Arabs elsewhere in the region) are not interested in a true and just peace with Isreal? They are only interested in the eradication of Israel and probably Jews worldwide!

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