Tuesday, June 8, 2021

Hamas' War Crimes Against Israel Provide a Preview of How America's Enemies Will Attack

Israel is often the canary in the international coal mine; that which afflicts Israel may soon afflict others. During the 1990s, suicide bombings and suicide attacks became a widespread tactic in the Arab/Islamic effort to destroy Israel. Arab/Islamic terrorist groups and the countries that sponsored them did not invent suicide bombings and suicide attacks but they demonstrated that such war crimes and crimes against humanity could be an effective tactic to demoralize their enemies while also, bizarrely, engendering sympathy among media members who perversely viewed the suicide bombers as underdogs, not as murderers of innocent men, women, and children. The United States may not have fully understood the barbarism and horror of suicide bombing/suicide attacks until the 9/11 attacks.

Lt. Gen Richard F. Natonski (ret.), former Commander of U.S. Marine Corps Forces Command, warns that the tactics used by Hamas recently against Israel may soon visit our shores: "When we look at adversaries like Hezbollah, Hamas, Boko Haram--these are non-state actors, meaning they are not associated with a nation, but they have the sophisticated weapons of a nation-state. As you look at Hezbollah in Lebanon, they have more rockets and missiles than most of NATO does in Europe." Natonski adds, "(T)here are really two audiences that Hamas is appealing to. One is the global audience, and two is the Arab world--mostly, the Palestinians. You can lose all the battles but win the war with a proper campaign of influencing the media."

Natonski notes that Israel does everything possible to minimize civilian casualties, while Hamas commits war crimes by doing everything possible to maximize civilian casualties: "These are bombs that hit exactly where they're aiming. This minimizes collateral damage and yet hits the targets you want. We have seen in attacks in Gaza that Hamas or at least civilians were given a warning, with a knock on the roof, which is essentially a submunition dropped on the building that is going to be attacked, that the enemy and civilians in that building should evacuate because shortly thereafter it's going to be hit with a real bomb. Surprisingly, I have seen in the Gaza Strip that telephone calls were made to buildings shortly before they were attacked. Everything is being done in order to minimize those civilian casualties despite the fact that Hamas, in the case of the Gaza Strip, is putting tunnels, putting rocket-launchers, putting mortar facilities and headquarters in buildings that are protected, those being hospitals, schools and mosques."

LTC (ret.) Geoffrey S. Corn, a Professor of National Security Law at South Texas College of Law Houston and a former U.S. Army senior law of war expert adviser, points out the clear distinctions between Israel's lawful tactics and Hamas' war crimes: "One of the ironies of what we've seen here is there is a lot of discussion about how Israel violated the proportionality rule when it was trying to attack legitimate enemy targets, and there's not enough discussion on how the deliberate attack on civilian populations by Hamas was a blatant war crime because the Israelis were fortunate enough to be able to interdict most of those missiles."

Corn mentions two paramount principles of the laws of war regarding the conflict between Israel and Hamas: the principles of distinction and proportionality. Corn argues that media coverage of Hamas' attacks on Israel has incorrectly applied those principles. "A state always has the right to act proportionally and reasonably in response to an actual or imminent act of unlawful aggression against it. It's no different than if you're in a bar and someone takes a punch at you. You have a natural right to defend yourself. A state is like a person in international law."

Regarding proportionality, Corn explains that--contrary to what "progressives" assert and too many media members repeat, "It's not a tit-for-tat concept of proportionality where if Hamas fires one missile, you’re allowed to fire one missile back...the Israeli government and the Israel Defense Forces were legally authorized to do what was necessary to restore the status quo of safety for the people of Israel."

The principle of distinction requires that all combatants only attack legitimate military objectives. Corn adds, "Now, a civilian building can become a military objective by the way the enemy uses or intends to use it. So it doesn't mean just a military target. It means something in the definition of the law if it gives an enemy an advantage and you an advantage if you attack it." 

Corn added that because Hamas' rocket attacks against Israel were "deliberately attacking civilians, it is a war crime and a violation of the law per se."

American politicians, media members, and public figures who lack the intelligence and/or moral fiber to distinguish between Hamas' war crimes and Israel's legitimate acts of self-defense are inviting disaster to the United States; the Hamas tactics that they fail to condemn--or even praise--will be adopted by the United States' enemies. This is not a matter of if, but when, and it will be interesting to see if "progressives" develop greater intelligence and/or moral fiber when war crimes are committed against the United States of America. 

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