NOV 28, 2023
Hamas has a calculated policy of doing everything to increase deaths among the civilians of Gaza. Besides deliberately using civilians as human shields, it denies them the opportunity to use the vast complex of tunnels-shelters it has built to protect its terrorists and its valuable hostages. Israel, on the other hand, has spent hundreds of millions of dollars constructing shelters for its civilians, as well as prioritizing the development of the Iron Dome designed to protect Israeli civilians from Hamas rockets. It should come as no surprise therefore that despite Hamas’ desire to kill as many civilians as possible and Israel’s desire to kill as few civilians as possible, the number of Gazan civilians killed exceeds the number of Israeli civilians killed in this conflict.
You wouldn’t understand this from reading The New York Times’ Sunday front-page “analysis” of comparative death figures because the Gray Lady fails to provide the reasons for the disparity. Nor does it disclose that not all Gazan “civilians” are innocent. Many are complicit with Hamas in numerous ways.
Some “civilians” even participated in the Oct. 7 massacres, crossing the broken fence and raping and murdering innocent Israeli civilians.
Others allow their home to be used to hide rockets, tunnel entrances and fighters.
There are, of course, entirely innocent civilians — even among the 70% who approve of the massacres. Babies and young children cannot be blamed for the sins of their parents, though 16- and 17-year-old terrorists, whom the media count as children, are clearly legitimate military targets. As are female terrorists the media describe simply as “women,” suggesting all women are innocent civilians.
Indeed, the Times notes “officials in the Hamas-run Gaza Strip do not separate the deaths of civilians and combatants.” [However, the credulous paper uses “the roughly 10,000 women and children reported killed in Gaza as an approximate — though conservative — measure of civilian deaths.”
When a political entity like Hamas attacks and declares war on another political entity like Israel, it knows full well the attacked nation will respond militarily.
It understands that in the process, civilians will die. That is the nature of all wars. Millions of German and Japanese civilians died along with Russians, Poles and other civilians in World War II.
War is hell, and those who start wars willfully inflict hellish consequences on their own civilians as well as others. The difference is that some warring nations go to great lengths to protect both their own civilians and those of their enemies.
Israel is such a nation. Others, like Hamas, go to great lengths to maximize civilian casualties on both sides. Hamas has had a policy of maximizing civilian casualties since its inception as a terrorist group. Its leaders themselves call it the CNN strategy. We have been writing about it for decades, but we call it the “dead-baby strategy” and it works — with the complicity of many media.
It’s as simple as it is effective: Kill as many Israeli civilians as possible; then hide the killers and their weapons among civilians, including babies; hope and expect some babies will die, despite Israel’s efforts to avoid civilian casualties; as soon as baby dies, display its body to the media, which will blame it on Israel; Israel will then be pressured into a cease-fire that will strengthen Hamas and allow it to kill more civilians. It’s a proven formula for success, so why stop? Or as the shampoo ad puts it: “Wash, rinse, repeat” — kill their civilians, hide behind your civilians, repeat and repeat. The only way to stop this cynical cycle of civilian deaths is for the media to accept responsibility for their complicity.
Every time a dead civilian is shown or described, the media must provide the context of why these civilians are dying: Hamas’ deliberate use of human shields; Hamas’ deliberate refusal to provide shelter for its citizens; the complicity of many Gaza “civilians” with Hamas; the inevitability of collateral civilian deaths after an unprovoked attack; the great efforts to which Israel goes to reduce civilian deaths; the unreliability of Hamas-provided data; the long history of Hamas using and repeating the “dead-baby strategy.”
Until and unless the media start telling the whole truth about Hamas’ culpability, it’s murder of civilians will continue.
Alan Dershowitz is professor emeritus at Harvard Law School and the author of “Get Trump,” “Guilt by Accusation” and “The Price of Principle.”