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How Hamas use their own civilians as human shields


THE WAR on Israel is fought not only on the battlefield but in the media too. Accusations that Israel is committing ‘genocide’ against the Palestinians and ‘killing children’ have all of a sudden erupted round the word. The UN’s human rights commissioner may have set off the clamour with his resignation. Congressional ‘Squad’ member Rashida Tlaib attacked President Biden specifically for supporting ‘the genocide of the Palestinian people’. A campaign called Stop the Gaza Genocide has been organising such protests throughout the US.

Mounting calls for ceasefire stem from this poisonous allegation and the superficial understanding of Hamas’s tactics including its relentless jihadist quest to destroy the Jewish state. Civilian casualties in Gaza are very difficult for Israel to avoid, despite its best efforts. Hamas know that injured and dead civilians in Gaza plays well in the media, invoking sympathy for its jihadist war on Israel. Their military strategies, such as using Gazans as human shields, maximises civilian casualties. 

Gaza is densely populated and urbanised. The Palestinian populations of the West Bank and Gaza rise exponentially each year. Nearly half of its inhabitants are under the age of 18, which accounts somewhat for the high number of children injured or killed there. But Hamas refuse to provide bomb shelters for its citizens in Gaza; instead they have built a labyrinth of ‘terror’ tunnels for the sole purposes of transporting missiles and as training centres for militants. These are built under hospitals, homes, mosques and schools. Above ground, the civilian infrastructures function as military command bases for Hamas and as storage facilities for their rocket launchers and weapons. Yesterday the IDF found numerous bombs and weapons hidden by Hamas in a Gazan nursery school.

Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) also have form with their own rockets backfiring and killing civilians in Gaza. During this current war, 450 missiles have been misfired into Gaza by militants fighting for both groups. Not only does this add to the civilian death toll but also gives Hamas a PR opportunity to blame Israel, as they did when PIJ fired a rocket into the car park of a Gazan hospital on October 18. 

There is no country which warns the enemy of impending attacks other than Israel, a policy long practised by the IDF in an attempt to avoid civilian casualties. On October 14, Israel warned Gazans to evacuate before it launched a ground invasion. But Hamas instructed their people to ignore the evacuation order and subsequently blocked access routes to the south of Gaza. They have also shot their own people attempting to leave their homes, including women and children trying to travel from North to South Gaza.

Israel must surely also be the only country to supply essential goods to those who hate it. Hamas regularly steal supplies such as fuel and medicine from organisations like UNRWA, the United Nations organisation dedicated solely to funding Palestinians. To aid Gazans, Israel is now sending them two fuel trucks a day, as well as water and sewage systems.

The failure of Western media and the chattering classes to question the validity of anything that Hamas spokesmen claim, as well as incessant calls for a ceasefire, can only strengthen the jihadist group and their Iranian backers. Is that really what they want?

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Karen Harradine
Karen Harradine
Karen is an anthropologist and freelance journalist. She writes on anti-Semitism, Israel and spirituality. She is @KarenH777on Twitter.

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