Boger Theo Silverbeck discusses the need for nuance in conversations surrounding the Israel-Hamas conflict, asking important questions about morality in war.
I do not feel qualified to tell you what to think about the Israel-Hamas conflict. Make up your own minds, but here are some of my thoughts and feelings, which I have attempted to put into coherent, legible form. Take from it what you will.
The bombing of Hiroshima, tragic as it may be, killing 129,000 people, was necessary to end World War II, saving many civilian lives as a consequence. In 1945, only 10% of Americans did not support this military action.
Netanyahu has clearly set out Israel’s intention to destroy Hamas.
Destroying Hamas will undoubtedly improve the quality of Palestinian civilian lives. Without Hamas, the aid Gaza is provided can finally go towards meaningful development. Without Hamas, Gaza can have democratic elections and be represented by a responsible governmental body, which can carry out political negotiations for improvements of civilian life and the Palestinian cause. Without Hamas, imposed security restrictions on what enters and exits the country can be lifted, freeing them from the so-called “open-air prison” accusation that some like to clumsily throw around.
Hamas’ inhumane terror attacks do nothing for the betterment of the condition of the Palestinian people. Hamas’ thirst forIsraeli blood supersedes any consideration for its Palestinian citizens. This week, a Hamas rocket fell short, landing in a hospital, killing and wounding 500 Palestinian people. 550Hamas rockets have fallen within their territory, on “their own” people. Hamas does not care about its people and it is clear that the military objective of destroying Hamas is preferable for the Palestinians.
In destroying Hamas, Israel is enacting her right to defend herself. If Israel refrains from striking military targets because Hamas is using civilians as human shields, then this operation will be inconsequential. Hamas will not be destroyed this way. This would deter no one and will solve nothing – Hezbollah would be emboldened to attack from the north and future rounds of violence with Hamas would be inevitable.
If it isn’t already clear, the only chance for reconciliation in the region, or for the betterment of the lives of Palestinians in Gaza, is the destruction of Hamas in its entirety.
Israel is not “punishing Gaza” and the response is not “collective punishment” for Hamas’ actions. To protect 9 million Israeli lives, and save 2 million Gazan people from Hamas, the IDF must destroy the entire terrorist infrastructure in Gaza, including 25,000 rockets, hundreds of kilometres of concrete tunnels (built from stolen aid) and more.
Tragically, in taking down Hamas, many civilian lives will be lost. This is what we are all grappling with. But, unfortunately, these are the facts of a war against terrorists, whose only defence is civilian human shields.
Israelis and Jews everywhere, unfortunately, know what it feels like to have your entire world shattered, and for what feels like the worst possible thing in the world to happen. Inunderstanding that, we sympathise with innocent civilians in Gaza, and our hearts break as we witness them enduring immense suffering as a result of Hamas’ actions.
Hamas doesn’t play by international law, equipping terrorists with UN medical supplies, sending them off into civilian homes to murder, behead and burn innocent fathers, mothers,babies and dogs, and then preventing civilians from fleeing the north for safety by blocking roads, desperately attempting to cling on to their greatest defence: their civilians. Does this give Israel a free pass, and justify Israel to respond in whatever way it sees fit? Whilst Israel will never target civilians like Hamas does, and takes every precaution to minimise civilian deaths, is it okay to accept them as collateral damage to get a necessary task done? Like the Americans did with Hiroshima?
I don’t know. But what I do know is that you don’t know either. It is a complicated, nuanced and incomprehensible moral and political conundrum, and our fickle social activism doesn’t come close to giving us the ability to form a strong opinion on it.
So instead of simply calling for Israeli restraint, let’s exercise our own form of restraint, by keeping our often ill-informed and over-simplistic views on the situation to ourselves. It takes years and degrees to understand the context of terror states, development and conflicts rooted in a deep history. If many specialists who have devoted their lives to this topic have admitted that they are confounded by the current situation, surely we don’t have the answers either?
We must approach this with the nuance and long-term consideration it deserves, and not just digitally scream empty epithets about the sacredness of civilian life. We do, however, have a duty to spread awareness of the facts, and combat misinformation. We must speak up for the protection and humanitarian support of both Israeli and Palestinian people.
And, to those hundreds of thousands of activists marching around the UK in support of Palestinian rights:
If you care so much about the Palestinian cause, where were your protests for the last 17 years when Hamas channelled all the country’s prospects into building tunnels, rockets and weaponry for its goal of genocidally destroying Israel and Jews? Or your protests to call elections in the last 16 years of Hamas rule, so that Palestinians in Gaza can have democratic representation?
And if you care so much about innocent civilian lives, which you should (we all should), which protests did you attend to speak out against 1.2 mil Uighur Muslims in concentration camps, Iran killing 5,000 journalists, or the 350,000 deaths in the last 12 years of Syrian conflict?
Additionally, if the international community, including the UN, had acted responsibly, the billions in aid they gave to Palestinians would not have been used to prepare for mass murderer. Why not, for a change, protest outside these offices instead of the Israeli embassy?
And whilst you’re at it, why not protest outside the Egyptian embassy, as they refuse to accept any Gazan refugees, victims of their own government who want to flee a warzone? Or over the previous 18 years of blockade that they too imposed over Gaza?
Or do you only manage to turn up for the protest when it is against the Jewish state?