… or the obscenity of arithmetica in bello.
I’ve lost count of the number of times in the last few days that the anti-Israel lobby on Twitter and on blogs have condemned Israel as the clear aggressor because 150 people in Gaza have died and only 5 in Israel.
Clearly, the argument goes, if more people die on one side than the other, then one side must be the evil aggressor using disproportionate force.
The fact that you are predisposed to hate Israel or at least have a negative view, and have been fed images of poor benighted Gazans starved, besieged, blockaded, denied medical treatment and so on, will, of course, reinforce the view that 150:5 is an obscene ratio and, QED, Israel is guilty of heinous crimes.
An overwhelmingly powerful country is pounding and bombarding the towns and residential areas of a small outclave of 1.5 million people.
It seems blindingly obvious, doesn’t it? Who’s guilty and who’s not.
Except, why did every western nation either support or, at least, not condemn Israel’s actions? How could they take such a stance? 150:5 and they still won’t condemn Israel.
Thanks to the complete abrogation of journalistic duty in the lead up to targetted killing of a senior Hamas figure in Gaza, most of the western world, which does not follow events in Israel, were blissfully unaware of an acute escalation in rocket fire over southern Israel in the days before, a tank round fired at a jeep and a huge underground explosion attacking IDF personnel within Israel but planted across the border.
I say ‘escalation’ because rocket fire had for years been a constant fact of life for communities in Israel which lie in approximately a 35 mile radius of Gaza. Hundreds of thousands of people in this area lived in constant threat of rocket fire. The sound of sirens was an almost daily event, often occurring as children set out for or returned from school as the terrorists tried to kill children, their preferred prey. Websites and Twitter feeds were created dedicated to counting these rockets and mortar attacks.
12,000 rockets since 2000. In fact, it was rocket fire that precipitated Cast Lead in 2008-9.
If you are a Hamas apologist, this fact has to be dealt with. Any rocket fired that indiscriminately targets civilians is a war crime and potentially a crime against humanity. A rocket fired from within an urban area is also a war crime. Rockets are fired from or near schools, hospitals, UN facilities, media centres and mosques.
The apologists know that these are crimes. They have, somehow, to make a mental accommodation for these crimes so that their confirmed view of the world and Israeli evil can remain unchallenged and their hero-worship of antisemitic, misogynist, homophobic, terrorists can remain intact.
This mental gymnastic exercise thus has to decide that the rockets are ‘home made’ or ‘fireworks’ and even ‘harmless’. These crimes are ‘forced’ upon these people as their only recourse against injustice and oppression. And so the justification for war crimes and terrorism is constructed lie by lie.
But even the premise of the grievance is false. In 2005 Israel unilaterally disengaged and pulled out of Gaza. Gaza became free of Jews. Here was an opportunity to create a mini Palestine, to show the world what the Palestinian people could achieve without occupation.
But they threw that opportunity away because they allowed Islamist Hamas to take power, and as soon as they did the attacks on Israel were ramped up: rockets, suicide bombings, mortar and rocket attacks.
Why? There was no blockade, no siege. But Hamas’ objective, indeed their whole raison d’être was and still is, to destroy Israel and establish an Islamist state in Palestine.
Hamas are not interested in land or border disputes or one or two-state solutions. Their aim, as expressed in their charter, is to kill every Jew on the planet.
Now it is perfectly valid to criticise Israel’s methods to restrain Hamas in order to cut off weapons supply and to protect its citizens from suicide bombers. That is not what is being argued here. None of Israel’s actions would have been necessary if Hamas were not determined to immiserate the lives of Israelis, whilst, as it happens, immiserating the lives of its own citizen by imposing draconian Islamist laws.
No rockets = no targetted killings, no air strikes , no blockade. No suicide bombers = no embargoes and other restrictions.
Whatever opinion you may have of Israel’s policies, allowing free access to terrorists to bomb and murder your citizens is not a reasonable expectation of any country. You can’t ask a country to strip itself bare of defences because you happen to have a grievance against it, and demand it allow open season on the people it is legally obliged to protect.
No other country that I know, whether western democracy or tyrannical state, and certainly no other country in the region would allow hundreds of rockets to rain down on its citizenry just because world opinion says its policies are wrong. When a missile from Syria struck a town in Turkey a few weeks ago, just one missile, Turkey did not sit on its hands, it retaliated.
Imagine thousands of rockets being fired from Syria into Turkey. How would Mr Erdoğan react? If that fire came from within Syrian cities would he spare his neighbours? Would he make an arithmetic calculation or move to save his citizens? And would the world agree?
And what about Turkey’s ongoing battle with its own terrorists, the PKK. Turkey is a member of NATO with overwhelming military and air superiority attacking and killing Kurds almost daily. Who says this is disproportionate or that more Kurds than Turks are being killed, so Turkey must, QED, be the bad guy? No-one. The Kurds, who have a far better and prior claim to their own state than the Palestinians, just do not figure in any deliberations in a UN monopolised by Israel-haters obsessed with the fact that Jews have a country and are prepared to defend it.
But, oh, the moral mathematicians opine, Israel attacks civilians in urban and built up areas.
So,they are saying that because Hamas commits a war crime by embedding itself amongst the people it is supposed to protect and fires rockets and stockpiles weapons, illegally, in schools and mosques, that Israel cannot defend itself? Well it can according to international law, as long as it does so proportionately.
1500 targets were hit by Israel. 150 people died in Gaza. No-one in the media has yet, to my knowledge, distinguished how many of that 150 were combatants. It is at least half. See this article in Daled Amos for why that estimate is probably accurate.
Let’s say 75 civilians killed in densely populated areas in 1500 attacks and we are back to the obscenity of one civilian for every 20 attacks. Is that indiscriminate?
But wait. We learn that many rockets land short. They actually fall in Gaza and as there is no warning, they kill.
The IDF spokesperson reported, much to the disbelief of the haters, that 99 rockets had fallen short in 4 days. The final figure I have seen is 152 out of 1506 (which, incidentally means Israel dropped as many bombs as Hamas fired rockets = proportionality?) Even this morning the Iron Dome twitter feed reported that they had taken no action against a rocket fired toward Ashkelon (reported as a false alarm several hours after the ceasefire) because it had fallen short.
The disbelievers might like to consider that there are several factions in Gaza who do have a homemade rocket industry rather than the more sophisticated weapons of Hamas, and these are prone to failure, often with deadly consequence for the civilians in Gaza and which are then covered up as Israeli crimes. It might be sobering to note that ‘celebratory gunfire’ after the ceasefire caused the death of one person and injury to three others. This shows how much the authorities care for their own people.
If we make a ‘guesstimate’ of 1 in 10 casualties as being victims of friendly fire (and it may be greater), the ratio of deaths per attack is even less. And if we then account for Hamas’ well-documented use of human shields, deliberately putting people in harm’s way to increase casualty figures so they can make these very claims of disproportionate force, then the figures become truly remarkable. They show that Israel really does try to avoid civilian casualties at the same time Hamas seeks to maximise them.
Yes, I know the horrendous story of the family that was wiped out; 10 members in one attack which Israel needs to account for and explain. But the obscenity of arithmetic means that the putative 75 or even 50 civilian dead becomes 65 or 40 in 1499 attacks. That is almost impossible and unprecedented. Remember Iraq and the air attack on Baghdad? Think of the thousands killed in Homs and other Syrian towns and cities. I suggest you cast your mind back to 2003 and look at an article in the Guardian and compare notes between what the forces of the US and the UK do when they bomb cities. How about this BBC report – 50 dead in one air raid.
How many Israelis would have died without the Iron Dome missile defence system, without safe rooms and without early warning sirens, (if you can call 15 seconds and early warning for the people in Sderot and other towns near to the Gaza border)? Would it have been 1 for every 20 rockets? Possibly. But there we go down the road of justification by arithmetic again.
Bottom line is: if you are constantly firing rockets at me, and I respond only by targetting those who fire them rather than the stockpiles and the infrastructure that supports them, sooner or later I am going to go for a more radical solution.
So the math, as they say in America, is a clear demonstration that contrary to what the innumerate pro-Hamasniks want you to think, and with a couple of provisos, Israel acted impeccably, whilst Hamas behaved the way a bunch of evil terrorists in control of a mini state would behave: illegally, mercilessly, mendaciously and pervertedly.
In other words, no words can describe the depths of inhumanity that these people can stoop to. And yet, so many westerners love and adore them and hold rallies for them and say they are All Hamas and send delegations to them. Yes, they are All wannabee genocides, terrorists, torturers, war criminals and antisemites. What a wonderful world we live in.
So please, Israel haters everywhere, contrary to what someone tweeted to me, the numbers DO lie because although they are important they do not even begin to tell the whole story.
To quote numbers only is an admission that you have lost the moral argument. Go figure.
Update: IDF official figure 177 casualties, 57 uninvolved – so my math was pretty good – if you trust the IDF, that is, which you won’t if you chose to believe terrorists who have been shown to lie and falsify evidence. Your choice.
Update: Whoa! Mishal Hussein BBC news anchor joins in the numbers game and shows her own prejudices
And Peter Tatchell, clueless on Gaza in the Huff Post “Israel launched more than 1,500 airstrikes on Gaza, while Islamists fired over 1,000 rockets into Israel. At least 160 Palestinians were killed, including dozens of civilians, and five Israelis died too. A rather one-sided death toll. Nevertheless, I mourn all these deaths.” Otherwise, despite ignorance, not bad from Tatchell – at least he calls out Hamas for what they are. (my emphasis)