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NP View: Hamas writes the anti-Israel script and Canada foolishly plays along . And the response of the international community was … to condemn Israel

May 19th, 2018 | by Richard Paul
NP View: Hamas writes the anti-Israel script and Canada foolishly plays along . And the response of the international community was … to condemn Israel
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NP View: Hamas writes the anti-Israel script and Canada foolishly plays along

Hamas used Gaza’s citizens as cannon fodder and only stopped when threatened directly. And the response of the international community was … to condemn Israel

Hamas leader Ismail Haniya, centre, gestures to demonstrators at a a protest camp during clashes with Israeli forces along the Gaza border, May 18, 2018.Mahmud Hams/AFP/Getty Images

It’s a good thing the Israel Defense Forces do a better job resisting Hamas’s aggression than western political leaders and journalists do in resisting Hamas’s propaganda. Alas, across much of the world this West this week, the reflexive response to Monday’s violence at Israel’s border with Gaza was to blame the Jewish state for defending itself against what was obviously a deliberate provocation by terrorists.

The violence, which saw, at latest count, 62 people die at or immediately proximate to Israel’s border security fence, was roundly portrayed as a massacre of innocents. A particularly bad editorial in another Canadian national newspaper claimed “It seems now that Israel has no upper limit on the number of poorly armed Palestinians in the Gaza Strip it will gun down and kill.” (Really? Do they suppose the Israelis just ran out of ammunition?) Commentators and world leaders lined up to condemn Israel. The UN arranged a special session to scrutinize Israel. It all felt so very routine.

Because it is. We’ve seen this play many times before. Which makes it all the stranger that no one ever seems to learn from the mistakes. A day after the hysterical accusations accusing Israel of a massacre and genocide, it was already becoming clear that the violence at the border was a justified if bloody response to a cynical attack on Israel organized and controlled by Hamas. Much like 2002’s so-called “Jenin Massacre,” where Israeli troops were accused of slaughtering hundreds, perhaps thousands of civilians — until international investigators eventually concluded the death toll was 52 Palestinians, most of them armed, along with 23 Israeli soldiers killed.

The usual anti-Israel suspects were promoting the same blood libel again this week. It’s no doubt true that civilians were harmed by Israeli fire and tear gas, which is tragic. But it’s clear that Hamas, having orchestrated a border riot, driving crowds up to the border fence to hurl incendiaries into Israel while attempting to breach the fence, led the literal charge into Israeli fire.

And that fire was not sudden or unexpected. First, Israel sent drones to drop leaflets warning Gazans that challenging the fence would put their lives in danger; the crowd kept coming. Israel deployed tear gas to disperse them; the crowd kept coming. Israel fired warning shots; the crowd kept coming. Finally, Israel opened fire. But given the tens of thousands of people Israeli troops were facing, can the killing of 62 really be called a “massacre”?

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Perhaps, if these had been primarily civilians, recklessly but peacefully protesting within an obviously declared Israeli defensive area. But, alas, no such luck for the Israel-bashers: of the approximately 60 killed, Hamas has admitted that 50 belonged to the terror group and at least three others belonged to other terror organizations. This was, in other words, an invasion — an inept one, but an invasion all the same. Israel was well within its legal rights to defend itself, and provided ample warning of its intentions to do so, before escalating to lethal force.

It’s regrettable that civilians were present in a place where they could come to harm. But Hamas put them there. While people might have been motivated in part by genuine frustrations over the miserable conditions in Gaza, they are there at the border, at specific times and places, because Hamas wants them there. Any illusions to the contrary were quickly dispelled this week when Israel (showing more concern for Gazan civilians than Hamas has) warned the terror group that further provocations at the border would result in direct attacks on Hamas’s leadership, driving home the point with a series of strikes on Hamas targets inside Gaza.

And wouldn’t you know it? The situation at the border calmed down, immediately, and diplomats in the region report that Hamas is looking to de-escalate. What an amazing coincidence to see these purportedly “grassroots” protests suddenly lose steam precisely as Hamas itself begins realizing that further violence will result in attacks upon its own senior people and assets. That Ramadan has begun might explain a small part of it, but it’s obvious that Hamas has the power to control the border violence. It didn’t, because that violence suited Hamas’s purpose — until Israel threatened to lay waste to their command centres, at any rate.

The kind of people who push civilians into the line of fire don’t mind if they later die

So, an entirely typical episode of Middle Eastern geopolitical theatre. Hamas, beset by massive and self-inflicted economic and political problems, engineered a crisis it can blame Israel for. It used Gaza’s citizens as cannon fodder and only stopped when threatened directly. Israel responded with justified force after taking extraordinary steps to avoid needless civilian deaths, although some are sadly inevitable. (When Israel sent trucks full of medical supplies into Gaza this week to help with the injured, Hamas refused to admit them. Evidently, the kind of people who push civilians into the line of fire don’t mind if they later die for lack of treatment.).

And the response of the international community was … to condemn Israel. As always. Still, it’s important to remember that it’s familiar because we have seen it so many times before, even if it seems we’re doomed to never learn from it. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau played his own small but predictable part this week in issuing unfair accusations against Israel. “Reported use of excessive force and live ammunition is inexcusable,” he said. “It is imperative we establish the facts of what is happening in Gaza. Canada calls for an immediate independent investigation to thoroughly examine the facts on the ground …”

That’s the backward way it’s done. Condemn first, then admit we need to get all the facts, then call for an investigation. It’s so routine it’s like a script. The problem is, it’s Hamas’s script. And it’s embarrassing that Canada insists on acting along with it.

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