What army has offered 48 hours notice to its enemies of planned operations? Israel did so, dropping 2 million leaflets in advance of army movements. Twenty-four hours before the IDF moved on a suspected terrorist site, the army phoned civilians to warn them to evacuate. There were 100,000 calls. And five minutes before an operation began, the IDF sent out text messages. The calls and messages contained not just warnings, but instructions on which roads were safe to take and which schools or other buildings could be used for shelter. In the midst of the conflict, hundreds of trucks brought food, water, and medical supplies to Gaza.
In Rafa, Israel sought to close 225 tunnels (with 800 entrances) used to smuggle arms to Gaza from Egypt. The easiest and safest course for the IDF would have been to level the homes without warning that contained the entrances using air power or tanks. In Gaza City, to avoid civilian casualties, IDF infantrymen went house to house, encountering booby traps along the way and fending off seven attempted kidnappings.
Hamas was so confident that Israel would not knowingly shoot at civilians that they hid behind human shields throughout the short war. It was common, when word came of an impending attack, for Hamas to send children out to play in the streets at that moment. "Will I shoot?" Gruber asks. "I will not." There is video of a terrorist with a rocket launcher slung over his shoulder grabbing a 10-year-old boy by the collar and dragging him across the street to deter Israeli snipers. And it worked. Israel has similar video (from Reuters actually) showing U.N. ambulances ferrying armed men. "Yes," says Gruber with resignation, "the 'ambulances' were always at the front."
There are scores of other examples -- Hamas firing from mosques, schools, private homes, and hospitals. The very fact that Hamas used human shields betrays their admission that Israel abides by ethical standards in war fighting. They took advantage of Israel's moral qualms about harming non-combatants. Now they accuse Israel of the crimes they themselves committed -- deliberately targeting civilians by raining down 12,000 missiles on southern Israel since the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza.
Gruber grudgingly accepts the moral asymmetry. "I will not shoot a civilian for his sake, but also for the sake of my soul," he explains. The more intolerable injustice is the world's embrace of the lies and calumnies now peddled by the same people who sent those kids into the streets in a war zone.
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