November 21, 2006 - The Palestinians have a powerful secret weapon, which is becoming less secret:
The Israeli conscience.
The Palestinians have already exploited this weapon to great effect, firing rockets at Israeli cities from within populated areas in Gaza. Hezbollah did the same in Lebanon, using Lebanese citizens as human shields. This was perhaps the greatest reason for Hezbollah's success. Israel could not go after Hezbollah fighters without placing civilians in great danger.
The tactic works precisely because the Palestinians know that Israel respects human life. Their exploitation of this difference in values has now reached a new level.
Palestinian terrorists often store weapons in their homes. Israel targets these buildings in an effort to stop attacks on its cities. To prevent any harm to civilians, however, Israel notifies the home owner in advance of the strike.
Last Saturday night Israel made such a call to Muhammad Baroud in Beit Lahiya in Gaza. Instead of evacuating, Baroud made a few phone calls of his own, and within minutes hundreds of Palestinians, including women and children, came to the building and clustered on balconies, on the roof, and in the street. Mosques and TV and radio stations called for supporters to show up, and they did so, chanting "Death to Israel! Death to America!"
Muhammad Baroud is commander of the Popular Resistance Committees' Qassam rocket operations. He coordinates rocket attacks on Israeli population centers. The people rushing toward his home were not rising up against an evil oppressor. They were a mob gathering to support and protect a murderer. Nevertheless, to avoid mass casualties Israel called off the air strike.
Israel's restraint did not stop Khaled Abu Hilal, spokesman for the PA Ministry of the Interior, from attempting to make an audacious moral claim. He accused the international community of "remaining silent" about Israel's actions - as if no comment were needed about the escalating Palestinian attacks on Israeli cities.
This incident is only the latest in a long pattern of Palestinian exploitation of Israelis' human values. Here are only two more examples:
On March 7 Samih Haddad, 21, a resident of Zeitun in the Gaza Strip, used fake medical documents in an attempt to enter an Israeli clinic for treatment. After he was caught, he admitted under questioning that Islamic Jihad furnished him with the phony credentials and was planning to give him an automatic weapon to attack Israelis once he succeeded in crossing the border.
On November 3 a group of terrorists hid in the al-Nasr Mosque in Beit Hanoun. Israeli soldiers surrounded the mosque and told the terrorists to surrender. The terrorists responded with gunfire. Then from inside the mosque they called for reinforcements: about 200 veiled Muslim women who came to the mosque to act as human shields. By mixing with the crowd of women, the terrorists managed to escape.
What these incidents prove is that even though the Palestinians accuse Israel of targeting civilians, they do not believe it.
The greatest proof that Palestinians know Israelis do not target civilians is that Palestinian terrorists repeatedly use this fact to their advantage. They even call their people's children to dangerous places, knowing the Israelis will try not to harm them.
The Palestinians know that Israelis do not fight like they do. In mosques, preachers call upon their flock to "occupy" terrorist safehouses that Israel threatens to demolish. They point out that Israel normally gives warnings of up to half an hour for the owners to leave. That is plenty of time to organize a "resistance." Resistance against what? Against any attempt to stop the rocket war on innocent Israeli citizens.
The Palestinians know Israel does not target civilians. Nevertheless they continue to accuse Israel of doing that, as a smokescreen to throw attention off their own barbarous practices.
What would happen, after all, if Israel tried to use this human shield tactic against Palestinian terrorism? Palestinian terrorists do not give warnings before they strike. But let's just say they did give a warning, and that Israeli women and children flocked to the scene to protect it. These women and children would become not a deterrent but a delicious target. Shouting praises to God, the Palestinians would slaughter them all. By its very nature, the Palestinian war against Israel is a war against civilians.
One Palestinian women who shielded Baroud said the Israelis called off the air strike because "they are afraid." Clearly she does not fear the Israelis. If the Israelis used Palestinian fighting tactics, would she then make such a pretense of bravery?
"Behind the headlines: The Threat to Israeli Civilians from the Gaza Strip." Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, November 21, 2006.
Katz, Yaakov and Khaled Abu Toameh. "IDF May Use Ground Forces to Combat Human Shields." Jerusalem Post, November 19, 2006.
Peace with Realism