The 3-mile-long tunnel from Gaza was designed for launching murder and kidnapping raids.
By General James T. Conway – The Wall Street Journal
Although American empathy for noncombatants is a critical component of who we are as a people, it should not blind us to reality: Israel’s military exists to protect its civilian population and seeks to avoid harming noncombatants, while its adversary cynically uses Palestinian civilians as human shields while deliberately targeting Israeli civilians.
I recently had the opportunity to see for myself the moral chasm between how the Israeli Defense Forces and Hamas treat civilians during military operations. In May I joined a dozen other retired U.S. generals and admirals on a trip to Israel with the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs.
Just outside Hamas-ruled Gaza, we toured a tunnel discovered less than one kilometer from an Israeli kindergarten. Unlike tunnels that I had seen during the Iraq war that were designed for smuggling, this Hamas tunnel was designed for launching murder and kidnapping raids. The 3-mile-long tunnel was reinforced with concrete, lined with telephone wires, and included cabins unnecessary for infiltration operations but useful for holding hostages.
Israel, fearing just such tunnel-building, has long tried to limit imports of concrete to Gaza for anything but humanitarian projects, yet somehow thousands of tons of the material have been diverted for terror use rather than building hospitals or housing for Palestinians. Since the beginning of ground operations into Gaza, the IDF has uncovered approximately 30 similar tunnels leading into Israel, in addition to the more than two dozen discovered prior to Operation Protective Edge. Hamas operatives have been intercepted emerging from such tunnels in Israel carrying tranquilizers and handcuffs, apparently hoping to replicate the successful 2006 kidnapping of IDF soldier Gilad Shalit, for whom Israel exchanged 1,000 Palestinian prisoners in 2011.
Beyond targeting Israeli civilians with kidnappings and with the indiscriminate firing of rockets, Hamas shows a callous disregard for the lives of the Palestinians it ostensibly represents. Earlier this month Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri appeared on Al-Aqsa TV and encouraged Gaza residents to act as human shields. They appear to have heeded the call: Israeli Defense Forces combat video has shown Palestinians rushing to rooftops after receiving warnings from Israel-via phone calls, text messages, and unarmed “knock-knock” small projectiles striking a targeted building-that a missile attack is imminent.
Nor is Hamas the only potential adversary of Israel that believes its civilians’ propaganda value is worth more than their lives. …read more