Busting Hamas’ Nihilism

An Indian news crew managed to capture this rare video footage of a rocket being fired from a densely populated residential area in Gaza yesterday morning, less than an hour before the ceasefire went into effect:

Michael Peck discusses why this is significant:

The film clip doesn’t show an Israeli retaliatory strike. But if there was one, it would have struck a built-up area, possibly injuring civilians. And there’s no way Hamas could not have been aware of that. By the way, the Indian film crew didn’t release the film until after they left Gaza, apparently in order to avoid retaliation by an image-conscious Hamas.

What can we conclude? From a military standpoint, a rocket that can fit under a small tent is going to be tough to eliminate with an air strike or artillery barrage. It takes troops on the ground. … It also illustrates exactly why guerrillas and irregular armies so often can prevail, or at least endure, against superior forces. Rockets and mortars are easy to assemble and fire. The launch crew can vacate before warplanes or artillery responds. When the counter-bombardment inevitably comes, civilians get hurt and the guerrillas gain support.

But Seth Lazar doesn’t buy Israel’s argument that Hamas’ use of human shields justifies bombing civilians:

[O]ne might think that Hamas’ joint responsibility provides some grounds for discounting the weight of those innocent civilians’ lives when tallying up the bad effects of the IDF’s actions. Suppose that Hamas were to literally treat innocent civilians as hostages by advertising an intention to kill a certain number of them should the IDF not withdraw. Then many would think it plausible that those deaths should not receive the same weight in the proportionality calculation as those directly inflicted by the IDF, in part because of the ‘intervening agency’ of Hamas. Perhaps human shields are analogous to hostages in this way.

We should resist this conclusion. Innocent people’s lives have weight in the proportionality calculation because of their moral status—their right to life. This status, and these protections, cannot be diminished by the impermissible actions of some third party.

Meanwhile, Human Rights Watch reports possible Israeli war crimes in Khuza’a:

On the morning of July 23, Israeli forces ordered a group of about 100 Palestinians in Khuza’a to leave a home in which they had gathered to take shelter, family members said. The first member to leave the house, Shahid al-Najjar, had his hands up but an Israeli soldier shot him in the jaw, seriously injuring him. Israeli soldiers detained the men and boys over age 15 in an area close to the Gaza perimeter fence. Based on statements from witnesses and news reports, some were taken to Israel for questioning. Israeli forces released others that day, in small separate groups. As one group walked unarmed to Khan Younis, Israeli soldiers fired on them, killing one and wounding two others.

Two older men whom Israeli forces briefly detained near the perimeter fence had been seriously wounded in earlier Israeli bombardments and died soon after being released, two witnesses said. The laws of war provide that wounded civilians and combatants should be given necessary medical care to the fullest extent practicable and with the least possible delay. In another incident on July 23, Israeli soldiers fired on a group of civilians who had been told to leave their home in Khuza’a, killing Mohammed al-Najjar, a witness said.