Victor Davis Hanson on X: Israel vs. a Death Cult

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Source: Victor Davis Hanson, October 23, 2023

Israel vs. a Death Cult

Here are three critical considerations that must be understood about the current Israel-Hamas conflict. It is a sort of half-war. It consists of a military trying to defeat an organized clique of passive-aggressive, media-obsessed tribal murderers.

It is not really a war. This ‘war’ did not begin with a military assault. It is nothing like the Six-Day and Yom Kippur Wars, or indeed most other conflicts. It broke out with a surprise assault by between 1,500 and 2,500 gunmen of the Hamas death squads. During peace and on a holiday, they entered Israel in a long-planned hit operation to murder civilians and take captives, focusing specifically on butchering the most vulnerable—the elderly, women, children, and infants—and in the most grotesque fashion imaginable.

Their desire was to be as savagely pre-civilizational as possible—the more macabre the manner of murder, the more fertile their sophistry that they were reduced to such repulsive blood lust by their worse “oppressors”. It would be as though gruesome Mafia hitmen had claimed they were forced to become animal-like due to even worse systemic anti-Italian bias. Even the Mexican cartels do not claim they are led to behead because of the injustice of the Mexican government.

By preplanned design, women were raped, and children and infants were burned alive, bound and executed, and (yes) beheaded. The dead were often mutilated. Some 1,400 Israelis were butchered, the vast majority civilians. Some 3,500-4,500 were wounded.

Hamas never planned to stage a preemptive war against the Israeli military. Its only agenda was to send killers to unprotected villages to murder the unarmed as they slept—in the manner of Nazi Einsatzgruppen and other mobile death squads on the Eastern Front. Almost immediately they counted on using hostages, human shields, and the media to avoid any accounting from the IDF.

To distract from the murder mission, Hamas launched some 5,000 rockets—all intended as terror weapons to strike civilians, in the fashion of the V-1 and V-2 attacks on London. What followed is the most asymmetrical “war” in memory. The IDF is the only military in the world told to be “proportionate” in its use of retaliatory force—not the U.S. after 9/11, and not Ukraine after February 24, 2022. No Arab army or terrorist cadre has ever waged a war under the rules of “proportionality”.

Can anyone remember a conflict, other than ones involving the U.S. or Britain, in which the attacked in its response is expected to first phone or drop leaflets warning its target areas? Does Hamas do that when it launches its rockets at Israeli cities?

It is not an anti-colonial struggle. Gaza is not anyone’s “colony”. It has been autonomous since 2006-7. No free Israeli Arab Muslim citizen would willingly emigrate there to live under the dictatorship of Hamas. And for good reason. Gaza has been the recipient of aggregate billions in cash from the Gulf monarchies, Europe, the US, the UN. and expatriate remittances. The more money came in, the less Hamas had any intention of using it to serve its people.

Most of the gifted funds were used to build the world’s largest subterranean city of death, to buy drones and rockets, and to pay gunmen to kill Jews. Essentially Hamas is an enormous mafia-like, shakedown and hostage-taking operation that threatens the general peace, the moderate Arab nations, the Western democracies, and Israel with terrorist operations and kidnapping unless sufficiently bribed to behave. Usually, soldiers wear uniforms in battle and their far away civilian overseers do not; Hamas killers in action wear anything, but their distant leaders in safety often prefer uniforms.

So, Hamas is primarily neither a government nor even an armed force designed to fight other soldiers, but rather some eerie updated SS or Mexican-like cartel. Was that reality at the time unknown to Gazans who once voted them into power, or to its unhinged supporters on the streets and campuses of the US who celebrated its murder missions and damned Israel—even before Israel responded?

Only Hamas is deliberately targeting civilians. Hamas fires its rockets at Israeli civilians from hospitals, schools, UN facilities, and mosques. Again, note the logic: Hamas assumes that Israel fights wars more humanely than Hamas itself does, and so will both try to avoid Hamas’s Palestinian human shields, and of course never itself employ such a barbaric tactic—since, among other humane reasons, Israeli civilians would attract, rather than deflect a Hamas rocket.

The Israelis avoid collateral damage; there is not even such a concept for Hamas: all of its attacks are primarily aimed at civilians. Collateral damage for Hamas follows from accidently encountering the IDF.

How Orwellian that the world demands that Israel, in its efforts to prevent Hamas rocket launches aimed exclusively at its civilian population, must not hurt a single civilian who is impressed to shield the rocket launchers. Note well: Hamas’s air campaign is specifically designed to kill civilians—Israel’s to avoid them. In Israel rockets are used to shield civilians; in Gaza civilians are used to shield rockets.

Hamas seeks to force the Israeli military to violate the rules of war; Israel accepts that there are no rules that Hamas gunman would ever follow. The odd result is that a sick world is more accepting of deliberate mass murdering by Hamas than occasional accidental collateral damage by Israel.