If you listen to Pacifica Radio, read the Guardian or visit ‘progressive’ web sites, you will hear and read a lot of lies about the war raging between Israel and Hamas. Here are some of them:
- Israel is targeting civilians.
Of the approximately 400 Palestinians killed so far, UNRWA — a pro-Hamas source if there ever was one — claims that 25% were civilians. Israeli sources give a figure of 10%. Even if UNRWA is right, this is still a low figure for modern warfare: In WWII, Germany suffered 3.5 million military personnel killed vs. 2 million civilians. Vietnam (North and South) probably had twice as many civilian as military casualties during the Vietnam war.
Considering the number of Israeli air strikes and the fact that Hamas has deliberately sited many of its facilities in densely populated areas, the only reason that civilian deaths could be so low is that Israel is trying not to hurt civilians, which is in fact the case. Compare this to the strategic bombing policy employed by the Allies in WWII.
If Israel wanted to perpetrate a holocaust, as many Hamas partisans say (for example, http://www.democracynow.org/2008/12/29/israeli_attacks_kill_over_310_in), all it would have to do is shell the cities indiscriminately with artillery, not engage in expensive precision air strikes. In that case, tens of thousands — not tens — of civilians would be killed.
- Israel is preventing food and medicine from reaching Gaza.
Despite the fact that Israel is at war with Hamas — a regime that most of the population supports — it has transferred food and medical supplies to Gaza, and allowed shipments from Egypt. According to the Israeli embassy in Washington, Israel has transferred over 6500 tons of aid to Gaza at the request of international agencies since the beginning of the war. It has not even turned off the 70% of its electricity that Gaza receives from the Israeli grid! This behavior is probably unique in the history of warfare, where starvation of enemy populations was a common tactic.
- Israel broke the truce.
Israel attacked Hamas after Hamas announced that it was ending the truce and fired about 170 missiles in 3 days. Hamas claims that Israel violated the truce by killing 3 Hamas members — who were surprised while planting a powerful explosive device at the border fence between Gaza and Israel. They also cite Israel’s actions in the West Bank, where Israel never agreed to allow Hamas a free hand.
- Hamas missiles are “amateur rockets” which which “nag” Israel (both of these phrases have been used).
Hamas has several types of missile, all of which are deadly. The Qassams, which are manufactured in Gaza, have a range of up to 6 miles and can carry up to 10 pounds of explosives, laced with ball bearings. They are highly inaccurate but have managed to kill about 15 people, since they are fired in large numbers at populated areas.
Hamas also has ‘Grad’ type rockets. A Russian design, they are manufactured in Iran and now China. These are anything but ‘amateur’, being full-fledged military antipersonnel weapons. They have a range of up to about 24 miles and carry up to 18 pounds of high explosive. About 900,000 Israelis are now in range of Hamas missiles.
- It’s all about Israeli elections.
Everything has political consequences, but that doesn’t mean that everything happens for political reasons. Ehud Barak and Tzipi Livni will get ‘points’ if the operation is successful, but a less-than-good outcome will elect Binyamin Netanyahu. One can equally say that Hamas chose to end the truce when it did in order to garner support in Palestinian elections, scheduled for this April.