Deciphering Discourse: Sorting Truth From Fiction in the Gazan Crisis

1. “I reaffirm my strong support for Israel’s right to defend itself. No nation should accept rockets being fired into its borders or terrorists tunneling into its territory…we are hopeful that Israel will continue to approach this process in a way that minimizes civilian casualties… ” –Barack Obama (7/16/14)

2. “Here’s the difference between us. We’re using missile defense to protect our civilians, and they’re using their civilians to protect their missiles” – Benjamin Netanyahu (7/13/14).

3. “Our people are convinced today that the only way to get rid of the occupation and establish their state is through resistance like all of the people of the world have done—just like what the American people did when they got rid of the British occupation. And as the French did when they got rid of Nazi occupation.” –Khaled Meshaal (8/4/2014).

4. “Not only are we going to give you more missiles—we’re going to be a better friend. We’re going to fight for you in the international court of public opinion. We’re going to fight for you in the United Nations”—Lindsey Grahm: US Republican Senator (8/1/2014).

How does one navigate through all the rhetoric surrounding the most recent Gazan crisis? Each quote above reflects a particularly oft-repeated theme most commonly used by governments directly involved in the conflict and parroted among media and supporters. The following article aims to flesh out their meaning and scrutinize their logic so as to better understand the complex dynamics that underlie this conflict.

1. Israel’s right to self defense

As a widely recognized sovereign state among the international community, Israel is justly entitled to self defense under article 51 of the UN charter. However, in a 2004 ruling, the ICJ stated that this argument cannot be invoked to justify military action in the Occupied Palestinian Territories given that the latter is not a sovereign state and is in essence controlled by Israeli military law. The Israeli narrative would counter this argument, claiming that the occupation of Gaza effectively ended with the withdrawal of all Israeli settlers in 2005. Yet even after 2005, Israel continued to exercise complete control over the movement of all goods and people entering and leaving Gaza. By any international standard, Gaza is still under occupation, the effects of which will render it “unlivable” by 2020. (While the dire humanitarian state in Gaza is largely due to the crippling blockade imposed by Israel and more recently Egypt, the blame must also be shared by the Hamas government, which invests more in rockets than in books or business.)

Israel claims to be acting in self-defense against rocket attacks and illegal incursions into their territory through tunnel networks. While it is indeed psychologically traumatizing to live in perpetual fear, the means by which the Israeli military reacts to these attacks is inherently illegal and disproportionate. According to international law, these attacks must be dealt with by the standards of occupation law and not the laws of conventional warfare; occupation law includes greater protection for civilians, as delineated in the Fourth Geneva Convention. This was most egregiously breached in the latest round of conflict at the most basic level of analysis where 70% of Palestinian casualties—by the most conservative standards—were civilians. Israel claims Hamas hides rockets in mosques, churches, hospitals, homes, schools and even kindergartens (as Ron Prosor, the Israeli representative to the UN, likes to emphasize) thus justifying military action in civilian areas leading to high casualty rates. Yet by any moral or legal standard, even if one targeted militant is in a populated civilian building, one cannot blow up the entire building to justify his/her death. Still, Israel insists that it went beyond its duty by providing warning to civilians through leaflets, phone messages, and warning bombs. This does not make an attack lawful or legal unless civilians were given the adequate time to evacuate the targeted site. Besides the fact that these “notices” are given many times only minutes in advance of a strike, (if given at all) the more important fact is, as John Ging, OCHA director highlighted,“[to] where should they flee? In the end, we don’t have the answer for them.” For Palestinians whose freedom of movement is restricted and especially for Gazans who are living in an open air prison; denied access to Egypt, Israel, and the West Bank; deprived of reconstructing an airport; limited in the 5.5km of accessible sea space, they have no where else to go. On top of that, during the war, the Israeli military declared 44% of Gaza a buffer zone to protect Israel from Hamas rockets. What this translated to was massive forced displacement and “scorched earth.” In a small 3 km wide strip of land, densely populated by 1.8 million people, anywhere else this act would be considered a crime against humanity, but in Israel, this is just another chore of what many Israeli officials refer to as, “mowing the lawn.”

2. Defining terrorism

The US, Israel, and the European Union are among the nations that consider Hamas a terrorist organization. Turkey, Qatar, and Iran are among the countries that consider Hamas operatives to be “freedom fighters”. How can one be a freedom fighter and a terrorist at the same time? It depends on where one places the emphasis: goals or modes of action. While there is no official United Nations definition for terrorism it is generally agreed upon that groups who intentionally target civilians are considered terrorists.

The IDF claims that Hamas uses “human shields” in order to increase international sympathy by raising the death toll. While the terminology is not quite accurate, it must be said that because Hamas conducts military operations in a highly densely populated area, it is by nature putting civilians at grave risk. One must understand however that Hamas is not just a militant wing, it is also a political and social organization with hospitals, schools, homes and other institutions. By this logic, targeting “Hamas” means targeting all these locations regardless of whether or not they hold militants or weapons. Additionally, while rockets were found in UN schools twice, one must also acknowledge that theses schools were empty and out of UN control. Also, as Ging mentioned, in past conflicts, both sides violated the inviolability of UN property by placing rockets or launching attacks from them, but in no way does it justify further attacks on schools and hospitals.

In the past, the accusation of Hamas deliberately using ‘human shields’ has not turned out to be true, but the validity of this statement with regards to the recent conflict has yet to be determined thus far. What has been documented, however, is the systematic use of Palestinians by the Israeli army as human shields in previous conflicts as well as in the most recent. All this is not to say that Hamas does not openly endorse and practice terror tactics. However, the fact that many states themselves adopt terrorist tactics only renders the term more hackneyed.

For Hamas, and for many Palestinians, their actions constitute resistance against an aggressor and an occupier. According to various UN General Assembly resolutions, armed resistance against an occupier is justified. (See, for example, UN GA resolution 3246 from 29 November 1974: “Reaffirms the legitimacy of the struggle of peoples for independence, territorial integrity, national unity and liberation from colonial and foreign domination and foreign occupation by all available means, particularly armed struggle.”)

In this conflict, Hamas killed 69 soldiers and 4 civilians with weapons that had far less accuracy and precision. On the other hand, Israel killed over 2,000 Palestinians, the overwhelming majority civilians including almost 500 children. Israel has the most sophisticated and accurate weaponry available and is the most advanced army in the region, not in the least thanks to US taxpayers. Israel has also not shied away from tapping into its wide arsenal of illegal weapons in its wars such as white phosphorous, enriched uranium, and most recently DIME. Israel’s assault on Gaza is also a clear implementation of the Dahiya doctrine, a military strategy practiced in Lebanon during the 2006 war to fight Hezbollah militants, where civilian infrastructure is deliberately targeted with disproportionate force. If the world insists on labeling “terrorists,” to fit a simplistic image of “good” and “bad,” then what do all these documented actions make Israel?

3. Justified resistance

In early June, Hamas and Fatah formed a “government of national unity” which reconciled the two main Palestinian factions and ended a seven-year rift. While many things still needed to be worked out, including important questions about the recognition of the state of Israel and the future of the militant wing of Hamas, the international community applauded the effort as a step towards unity and sovereignty. But Israel could not accept the unity government and perceived it as a threat to its upper hand status as a free wielding power.  And thus conveniently, came the kidnapping of the three Israeli seminar students in the Occupied West Bank (Area C to be more accurate, meaning the area of the West Bank directly under Israeli control). The Israeli government milked the publicity out of the story (#BringBackOurBoys) and intentionally withheld the information of their deaths to the public for days while also imposing a gag order to prevent journalists from reporting. Netanhyahu and others immediately and directly blamed Hamas (for which the authority had no direct responsibility in) and subsequently engaged in a period of collective punishment arresting 600 Palestinians including many children and government officials who had been previously released from jail. This along with the reprisal killing of Mohammed Abu Kedeir, and the torture of his Palestinian-American cousin Tariq Khdeir, stoked the flames of hatred among extremists on all sides and intentionally put Hamas in a position where it had to act. When asked in a France 24 interview what he would say to his Hamas allies, Majed Bamya, a representative of the PA, replied, “How can we bring back Hamas to more moderate politics if in 10 years of the Abbas government, this Israeli government created over 100,000 settlements on our land? […] How can we convince our people that the current Israeli government is a partner in peace and not an occupying power and an apartheid government when this apartheid government continues the construction of the wall, incursions in our cities—even in the West Bank—continues to kill Palestinians and children? What should we say to them today, to the Palestinians, we who had defended this peace project and this project of liberation by political and pacific means?[1]

While it is easy to attack and criticize the effectiveness of armed resistance in the long term, for those who live in these desperate times, whose daily lives are severely impaired by the occupation, patience understandably starts to wear thin after 67 years of occupation and over 40 years of peaceful negotiation and diplomatic attempts. People want immediate and tangible results. While only time will tell if the Palestinians can gain these results through violent resistance, for the time being, things look exactly where they started before the violence. How then, can Khaled Meshaal—Hamas’s political leader—declare “victory” when Hamas’s clearly stated aim of the war was to lift the blockade and alleviate the daily suffering of Gazans? The most recent negotiated ceasefire only includes undefined and open-ended references to future talks on ending the Israeli blockade that will, like in previous settlements, probably never transpire. Hamas would say that its victory is in its resistance. While this holds some truth, the rhetoric only goes so far. Since coming to power, Hamas has not been able to achieve constructive gains for the Palestinian people. But if true Palestinian sovereignty cannot emerge by peaceful means, and Hamas’s violence will only result in more deaths and vague promises for lifting the blockade, what is left for Palestinians?

4. Impunity

What do all these charges of grave violations of human rights amount to if Israel continues to carry on with impunity? The US policy of unconditional and uncritical support of Israel in the international community and especially at the UN security council is what has allowed Israel to enjoy decades of impunity.

On July 16, the same day Hamas and Islamic Jihad offered Israel a hudna or 10 year truce in exchange for lifting the blockade and releasing prisoners, Congress approved $351 million in aid to finance Israel’s Iron Dome defense system during the 2015 fiscal year. Then on July 20, while the Israeli army was razing Shujayea in what even the UN called an “atrocious action,” Israel’s defense ministry secretly negotiated a deal with the U.S. military for 120 mm mortar shells and 40 mm illuminating rounds costing around $3 million. On August 4, when Hamas agreed to an Egyptian sponsored ceasefire and the day after an Israeli airstrike killed 10 people outside a UN school, Obama signed another bill giving Israel $225 million in emergency funding for its Iron Dome defense system. US hypocrisy when it comes to the Israeli Palestinian conflict needs no further elucidation than this. The US has long lost credibility as an effective and impartial negotiating power in the conflict.

It is this position of privilege that Israel enjoys, which contributes to its seemingly insincere attitude in peace negotiations. In reality, it has less to gain from the establishment of a Palestinian state with defined borders, and more interest in maintaining inefficient cycles of peace talks during which it can continue its process of illegal incursion and expansion into Palestinian territory. If Israeli impunity—which is intrinsically linked to US protection—continues unabated, it will drive more Palestinians to espouse more violent and radical means of opposing Israel. This would likely increase the frequency of bloody conflicts, while not advancing the cause of Palestinian statehood, and would in essence serve to justify Israel’s rhetoric of the increasing threat of “terrorists” and would give weight to its attempt at rationalizing the use of illegal and disproportionate use of force against the Palestinian population.

Yet if this US-Israeli relationship is so certain, and if the verdict is always given in favor of Israel, then why did Senator Grahm feel the need to add in her remarks that “we’re going to fight for you in the international court of public opinion”? Israel undoubtedly is losing the war on public opinion; direct images, startling casualty statistics, and eyewitness accounts cannot be unseen or justified by any means. This summer, hundreds of thousands of people from all organizations and walks of life gathered in the world’s capitals to protest what they perceived to be a slaughter in Gaza. The question remains: is public opinion and international solidarity effective in changing state policy? Do we need to wait for further wars in Gaza and alarming and unavoidable death tolls to build an effective coalition of support to hold Israel accountable for its crimes against humanity? What would such justice look like? Frank discussions of these questions are the foundations from which to build a united front committed to ending Israeli impunity.

In the end, one needs to think critically and independently about these themes repeated in the discourses of politicians and news media. These statements should never be taken at face value and the deliberate choice of words should not be simply overlooked. Only with such a process and standard for analyzing the rhetoric and deciphering the logic, can we hope to have a more informed and active public capable of changing the seemingly intractable conflict.


[1] My translation.


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11 comments

  1. 0
    Joelle Hageboutros ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    I appreciate the comments and discussions that were raised by this piece and I’d like to take the time to respond to a few points that were made.

    @ Swattie:
    I never denied that Hamas stored rockets in UN schools, this was well documented and reported by the UN. The point I tried to make is that this fact does not justify the “human shield” argument used by Israel to attack civilian institutions because the schools in which the rockets were found were empty and abandoned by the United Nations. While it was an egregious breach of the inviolability of UN property–one of many violations committed by both sides–this act does not justify further Israeli attacks on schools, hospitals, and other institutions which inevitably occurred. There has been no other proof of Hamas storing rockets in the populated schools and hospitals which were targeted by the Israeli army. Hope that helps to clarify what I meant.

    @Matan:
    I don’t think the people of Gaza would be convinced by reading the Hague Resolutions, that they are not suffering under Israeli occupation. But since you seem to be convinced on relying on international definitions of occupation, Gaza has been and still is internationally labeled as an occupied territory.

    “The test employed by international law to decide whether territory is occupied by an adverse party is contained in Article 42 of the 1907 Hague Regulations Respecting the Laws and Customs of War on Land. It is essentially a question of ‘effective control.’ If an invader intends to retain control of hostile territory, at least temporarily, then that territory is occupied…the ‘effective control’ test has been interpreted by various courts. In 1983, the Israel Supreme Court decided the Tsemel case which arose during the occupation of Southern Lebanon. It ruled that occupation forces do not need to be in actual control of all the territory and population, but simply have the potential and capability to do so. This ruling is in accordance with decisions of other courts, including the Naletili and Martinovi case in which the Yugoslav Tribunal referred to an occupant having “a sufficent force present, or the capacity to send troops within a reasonable time to make the authority of the occupying power felt.” http://www.fmreview.org/FMRpdfs/FMR26/FMR2608.pdf

    The United Nations still considers Gaza as an occupied territory as the UN spokesman stated in 2012:
    ” …there are Security Council and General Assembly resolutions that cover this. For example, there was a Security Council resolution adopted on 8 January 2009 — 1860 — and that stressed that the Gaza Strip constitutes an integral part of the territory occupied in 1967. And as you know, Security Council resolutions do have force in international law. Furthermore, there is a resolution from the General Assembly from 20 December 2010, and while it noted the Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip and parts of the northern West Bank, it also stressed, in quotes, “the need for respect and preservation of the territorial unity, contiguity and integrity of all of the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem”. So just to repeat that the United Nations will continue to refer to the Gaza Strip as part of the Occupied Palestinian Territory until either the General Assembly or the Security Council take a different view on the matter.” blog.unwatch.org/index.php/2012/01/27/un-we-still-consider-gaza-occupied-by-israel/

    Also, the US Department of State still refers to Gaza as an occupied territory on their website. http://m.state.gov/md220358.htm

    For a legal reasoning, I would suggest reading this interesting article on how Gaza is considered occupied and why it matters, which includes useful links. http://www.jadaliyya.com/pages/index/8807/is-gaza-still-occupied-and-why-does-it-matter

    Like Anonymous eloquently conveyed, unless there is a open discussion on this subject that is free of prejudice and with an intent to end the cycle of violence and work with an open mind to solve this conflict, we will always find ourselves arguing over the definition of each word rather than listening to the point of view of everyone concerned. So I strongly encourage you to read this article thoroughly before you make snap judgements. You’ll find that I’m not promoting Hamas by any means. In fact, the sentence after you stopped reading is just one of the several instances where I criticize the Hamas government for its role in the severity of the blockade.

    @Paul Hitti

    I appreciate your comments and suggestions. Let me just point out to you that I did mention the casualties and the civilian/military ratios on both sides.

    “In this conflict, Hamas killed 69 soldiers and 4 civilians with weapons that had far less accuracy and precision. On the other hand, Israel killed over 2,000 Palestinians, the overwhelming majority civilians including almost 500 children. Israel has the most sophisticated and accurate weaponry available and is the most advanced army in the region, not in the least thanks to US taxpayers. Israel has also not shied away from tapping into its wide arsenal of illegal weapons in its wars such as white phosphorous, enriched uranium, and most recently DIME.” (last paragraph of part 2)

    1. 0
      Matan says:

      The fact that some writers and organizations (including the UN, whose institutions have long been used by the Islamic and Arab blocs to further their agenda) creatively interpret the international law in order to single out Israel does not change the fact that the Gaza situation doesn’t fall under the definition of occupation:

      “Territory is considered occupied when it is actually placed under the authority of the hostile army.
      The occupation extends only to the territory where such authority has been established and can be exercised.”
      (https://www.icrc.org/applic/ihl/ihl.nsf/Article.xsp?action=openDocument&documentId=01D426B0086089BEC12563CD00516887)

      Notice “actually placed”. Is Gaza under the authority of a hostile army? If it is, then that army is Hamas (according to state department document you privded, “Hamas maintained control of security forces in the Gaza Strip”), not the IDF. Don’t believe me? Ask Mahmoud al-Zahar, one of Hamas founders and leaders. Commenting on the effectiveness of anti-Israel rallies in the Gaza Strip he said: “Popular resistance is inappropriate for the Gaza Strip…against whom exactly would be rally? Such resistance would be fitting if Gaza was occupied”.

      If we adopt your suggested reading of the definition of occupation, any country that can potentially occupy a territory should be considered as effectively occupying it. By that definition, Mexico and Canada should be considered to be under US occupation. It should also be noted that the Israeli supreme court ruled in 2008 that Israel has no effective control of the Gaza Strip.

      For a debunking of John Dugard’s interpretation on which the article you recommended relies, see: http://elderofziyon.blogspot.co.il/2014/08/john-dugard-accidentlally-proves-that.html

      Please don’t preach me about an open discussion free of prejudice. I have been in the West Bank. I protested shoulder to shoulder with Palestinians against Israeli policies. I was what you may call a radical leftist, and used to believe in some of the misinformation that you spread here. Luckily, over the years my understanding of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has improved. One cannot complain about prejudice while spreading libels such as your claims about Israel’s use of illegal weapons. No, Israel doesn’t use illegal weapons. White phosphorous is a legal component used for smokescreen grenades in the IDF and many other western armies (You might want to find better sources than the Iranian state press). Israel has never used enriched uranium (http://www.unep.org/Documents.Multilingual/Default.asp?DocumentID=485&ArticleID=5416&l=en) despite what Robert Fisk might claim. As for the “DIME” accusation, even if it was true, it is not an illegal weapon according to any standard. I noticed that this rumor was spread by two Norwegian doctors, Gilbert and Fosse, long time anti-Israeli activists. Any other source for it?

  2. 0
    Joelle ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    I appreciate the comments and discussions that were raised by this piece and I’d like to take the time to respond to a few points that were made.

    @ Swattie:
    I never denied that Hamas stored rockets in UN schools, this was well documented and reported by the UN. The point I tried to make is that this fact does not justify the “human shield” argument used by Israel to attack civilian institutions because the schools in which the rockets were found were empty and abandoned by the United Nations. While it was an egregious breach of the inviolability of UN property–one of many violations committed by both sides–this act does not justify further Israeli attacks on schools, hospitals, and other institutions which inevitably occurred. There has been no other proof of Hamas storing rockets in the populated schools and hospitals which were targeted by the Israeli army.
    Hope that helped to clarify what I meant.

    @Matan:
    I don’t think the people of Gaza would be convinced by reading the Hague Resolutions, that they are not suffering under Israeli occupation. But since you seem to be convinced on relying on international definitions of occupation, Gaza has been and still is internationally labeled as an occupied territory.

    “The test employed by international law to decide whether territory is occupied by an adverse party is contained in Article 42 of the 1907 Hague Regulations Respecting the Laws and Customs of War on Land. It is essentially a question of ‘effective control.’ If an invader intends to retain control of hostile territory, at least temporarily, then that territory is occupied…the ‘effective control’ test has been interpreted by various courts. In 1983, the Israel Supreme Court decided the Tsemel case which arose during the occupation of Southern Lebanon. It ruled that occupation forces do not need to be in actual control of all the territory and population, but simply have the potential and capability to do so. This ruling is in accordance with decisions of other courts, including the Naletili and Martinovi case in which the Yugoslav Tribunal referred to an occupant having “a sufficent force present, or the capacity to send troops within a reasonable time to make the authority of the occupying power felt.” http://www.fmreview.org/FMRpdfs/FMR26/FMR2608.pdf

    The United Nations still considers Gaza as an occupied territory as the UN spokesman stated in 2012:
    ” …there are Security Council and General Assembly resolutions that cover this. For example, there was a Security Council resolution adopted on 8 January 2009 — 1860 — and that stressed that the Gaza Strip constitutes an integral part of the territory occupied in 1967. And as you know, Security Council resolutions do have force in international law. Furthermore, there is a resolution from the General Assembly from 20 December 2010, and while it noted the Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip and parts of the northern West Bank, it also stressed, in quotes, “the need for respect and preservation of the territorial unity, contiguity and integrity of all of the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem”. So just to repeat that the United Nations will continue to refer to the Gaza Strip as part of the Occupied Palestinian Territory until either the General Assembly or the Security Council take a different view on the matter.” blog.unwatch.org/index.php/2012/01/27/un-we-still-consider-gaza-occupied-by-israel/

    Also, the US Department of State still refers to Gaza as an occupied territory on their website. http://m.state.gov/md220358.htm

    For a legal reasoning, I would suggest reading this interesting article on how Gaza is considered occupied and why it matters, which includes useful links. http://www.jadaliyya.com/pages/index/8807/is-gaza-still-occupied-and-why-does-it-matter

    Like Anonymous eloquently conveyed, unless there is a open discussion on this subject that is free of prejudice and with an intent to end the cycle of violence and work with an open mind to solve this conflict, we will always find ourselves arguing over the definition of each word rather than listening to the point of view of everyone concerned. So I strongly encourage you to read this article thoroughly before you make snap judgements. You’ll find that I’m not promoting Hamas by any means. In fact, the sentence after you stopped reading is just one of the several instances where I criticize the Hamas government for its role in the severity of the blockade.

    @Paul Hitti

    I appreciate your comments and suggestions. Let me just point out to you that I did mention the casualties and the civilian/military ratios on both sides.

    “In this conflict, Hamas killed 69 soldiers and 4 civilians with weapons that had far less accuracy and precision. On the other hand, Israel killed over 2,000 Palestinians, the overwhelming majority civilians including almost 500 children. Israel has the most sophisticated and accurate weaponry available and is the most advanced army in the region, not in the least thanks to US taxpayers. Israel has also not shied away from tapping into its wide arsenal of illegal weapons in its wars such as white phosphorous, enriched uranium, and most recently DIME.” (last paragraph of part 2)

  3. 0
    Anonymous says:

    Will all fairness, if you read the article carefully,the author is not defending Hamas unreservedley but rather critizing the repeated disproportionate military response of Israel,emphasizing on the high number of palestinian casualties, particularly children. If one has taken strong position in this conflict and cannot even finish reading an article that may challenge his or her thinking (like Matan above) , it would be a sad reality we live in. It is not about being pro-palestinian or pro-israeli, but it’s about lending our voice to the weak and vulnerable, about protecting our human decency and dignity. As to the unconditional support of the US to Israel,I recommend reading the book “Israel lobby and US foreign policy” written by two prominent academician John Mearsheim and Stephen Walt.

    1. 0
      Matan says:

      Anonymous, I’m certainly willing to read an article that challenges my thinking. In fact, my views on the Israeli-Arab conflict changed over the years so I must have read something(s) that caused this change.

      But if I’m reading an article and it quickly turns out to be completely detached from reality I don’t always bother to finish reading it. I’m sure I’m not alone in this.
      Suppose you are reading an article titled “Deciphering Discourse: Sorting Truth From Fiction in the Armenian Crisis”, that starts with the claim that “‘by any international standard’, what was done to the Armenians by the Turks during WWI is certainly not a genocide”. Would you continue reading it?
      As I pointed out, international law has clear definitions, not vague standards that one can twist as one fancies. As I’ve shown, Gaza cannot be said to be under Israeli occupation according to the definition of military occupation under international law.

    2. 0
      James Whale says:

      You mean the book that’s been roundly criticized as irredeemably biased, even by Noam Chomsky, one of Israel’s biggest critics? You can’t justify propaganda with other propaganda.

  4. 0
    Commenter says:

    Hamas spent 100s of millions of aid dollars building tunnels for its terrorists, who were planning to invade Israel and kill thousands of Israelis. Hamas did not spend 1 penny on bomb shelters for its civilians. Then Hamas started an air war.

    Obviously Hamas does not care about Gazan civilians, watching them being killed while the men of Hamas hide in tunnels.

  5. 0
    Paul Hitti says:

    MS Joelle,
    I am an old journalist reporter of the Middle East conflicts since 1972.I have covered the aborted peace process between Lebanon and israel in the early 1980′, and all the regional wars over the TV networks and the newspapers.
    I regularily follow the young thinking on your platform.
    I just read your article and you have exposed with all fairness and facts in hands the agregates of this century-long conflict. whether Israel has bombarded schools or Hamas has bombarded the settlements, you missed on one point: the Israeli bombings killed hundreds (shields or not shields) … while the Hamas bombings killed not civilians in the same amounts … The difference between your analysis and my views, is that you rely only on press facts and news reports and on statements by both parties, which is highly recommendable and scientific, and as such, your article sounds clinically shielded in an academic environment. My views are that you should have emitted a personal opinion as a researcher and an analyst. But obviously you are not a journalist. Your article will generate controversy because it tackles the white and the black. At my age I am in the grey !
    Paul Hitti

  6. 0
    Matan says:

    “By any international standard, Gaza is still under occupation”. Perhaps by the international standard made up by the author of this piece. Let’s see what’s the definition of occupation according to the Hague Regulations, article 42:

    “Territory is considered occupied when it is placed under the authority of the hostile army. The occupation extends only to the territory where this authority has been established and can be exercised. The law on
    occupation applies to all cases of partial or total occupation, even if such occupation does not encounter armed resistance.

    The essential ingredient for applicability of the law of occupation is therefore the actual control exercised by the occupying forces.

    Occupation ceases when the occupying forces are driven out of or evacuate the territory.”

    Does Israel exercise control of the Gaza Strip? No, Hamas rules the Gaza Strip. Israel merely controls a part of Gaza borders and lays a sea blockade, similar to the one enforced by the US against Cuba in the early 1960s. Did Israel evacuate the territory in question? Yes.

    So, according to the definition of military occupation under international law, Israel is not occupying the Gaza Strip.

    I stopped reading at this point, realizing that this article claiming to “decipher” rhetoric is merely an elaborate piece of propaganda.

  7. 0
    Swattie ( User Karma: 5 ) says:

    Thanks for an interesting read, Joelle. I am wondering about some of the information you use to argue that Hamas does not use human shields. You say, “while rockets were found in UN schools twice, one must also acknowledge that theses schools were empty and out of UN control. ” This doesn’t seem to prove that Hamas doesn’t store rockets in schools. Rather, it seems to prove that the UN does not store rockets in UN schools. What do you think?

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