Wednesday, August 06, 2014

Ceasefire deaths

On July 15, exactly one week into IDF Operation Defensive Edge in Gaza, the Israeli Govt, accepted the unconditional ceasefire proposal of the Egyptian Govt., but Hamas rejected that ceasefire and continued shooting.  At that point there had been some 194 Gazan casualties as reported in the international media based on Hamas figures.  By the end of the current fighting when Hamas accepted the same unconditional Egyptian ceasefire 3 weeks later on Aug 5, the death toll in Gaza had reportedly risen to 1,834.  Therefore we can say that exactly 1,640 people died in Gaza because Hamas refused to accept the original ceasefire proposal.  This is a fact, whatever people may think or claim that the IDF did in the interim, if Hamas had accepted the same ceasefire 3 weeks earlier, 1,640 Gazans would be alive today.
According to Hamas sources only 25% of the casualties were combatants, but you can find NO photos of any combatants in Gaza, because they are censored by Hamas.  According to the IDF they killed ca. 800 Hamas fighters during the Operation, and this is based on field reports (i.e. ca. 50% combatants).  If we take this number from the total of 1834, this means that slightly over 1,000 civilians died in 4 weeks of fighting.  This is in fact an incredibly LOW number, considering that Gaza is a densely populated area in which the IDF carried out over 2,500 attacks. This is a fourth of the weekly casualty toll in Syria and much less than that in Iraq. The IDF of course claims that all of its attacks were against Hamas positions, including missile launchers, firing points, tunnels and command centers, all of them in houses, schools, mosques and even hospitals.  Does anyone claim that the IDF was actually trying to kill civilians, if they were you can be sure the toll would be a lot higher than it was.  The reason for the civilian casualties was because of the use of the population as human shields to both protect Hamas firing points and to attract IDF fire, since the civiliian casualty figure is the only positive outcome for Hamas from this conflict.  Talk about cynical  (see ). 
It is true that the IDF fired back at Hamas positions used to fire from near schools containing refugees.  This is certainly allowed under the rules of war (Geneva conventions) when a protected area (such as a school) loses its protection if firing comes from it.  If you look at actual videos from the IDF regarding the UNRWA school in Rafah where the little girl and 9 others supposedly died, the firings were directly adjacent to the school and furthermore the IDF response did not actually hit the school but hit the position outside the school where the fire was coming from.  The deaths would have been much greater if the school itself containing ca. 3,000 refugees had been hit, and in fact anyone can tell that the school was intact from the videos shown on the news after the event.  In that specific incident 10 died out of 3,000, not so many.  Added this morning: In fact it has now been shown that the school incident was staged by Hamas (see ) and all you liberal media jerks were taken in, including the pro--Hamas Islamist Sayeeda Warsi, who had infiltrated the Cameron Conservative Government.
Let us calculate how many Israelis might have been killed by the missiles from Gaza had there been no Iron Dome system.  Since there have been ca. 3,500 missiles fired into Israel in the past three weeks, and the Iron Dome has intercepted ca. 20% of them that were directed against populated areas, that is 700 missiles that could have caused casualties, and let's assume that only 2 people would have been killed on average by each missile, that is already ca. 1,400 casualties.  If by chance a missile had hit an Israeli school or kindergarten, then the death count would have been much greater.  Those that regret that the civilian casualty figures in Gaza are disproportionate must reflect on the fact that while Israel tries to avoid civilian casualties, Hamas tries to inflict them, and the world might not show as much sympathy for dead Jews. If the UK is under missile attack from the Islamic State in the future we will not sell them our Iron Dome system, since they want to boycott arms sales to us.
So the crucial question arises, what was it that persuaded Hamas to accept the same unconditional Egyptian ceasefire that it rejected 3 weeks before?  No one seems to be asking this question.  The answer is of course the damage that Israel did to Hamas facilities (not the civilian casualties), namely the rocket stores and the tunnels destroyed and the terrorist leaders that were killed durng the intervening period.  Note that after Hamas rejected the first unconditional ceasefire, US Secty of State John Kerry met with the FMs of Turkey and Qatar, both of whom support Hamas, and gave a statement before the press saying that we needed to be sensitive to the needs of the Palestinian people and Israel should remove its blockade of Gaza.  Needless to say, this made PM Netanyahu furious and he ignored Kerry's ceasefire proposal, and its good that he did, since Hamas eventually dropped this condition for a ceasefire and accepted the unconditional ceasefire. 
Now the bargaining is beginning.  Israel cannot drop its blockade of Gaza if there is any possibility that Hamas will import more missiles (newer long range ones from Iran).  Israel's major requirement is that Gaza be demilitarized and that reconstruction cannot go on without close supervision (by a UN or other body), otherwise Hamas will use the construction material to reconstruct their tunnels. Whether or not Hamas feels it has taken enough destruction will determine whether or not it will accept these conditions. Israel allows and will allow more food, medicines and humanitarian aid to be trucked into Gaza, as long as it can inspect all shipments.   Both Egypt and the PA (whatever they say in public) will be willing to persuade Hamas to give up its impossible fantasy of destroying Israel.  In this way the role of the PA will be enhanced relative to Hamas, which may have implications for the future.   


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