Tunnels, human shields, intimidated reporters and more.
Between July 17 and August 5 of2014, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) destroyed 32 tunnels in Gaza — 100 kilometers of concrete-lined and accessorized passageways dug deep beneath the earth’s surface with openings near Israeli homes and kindergartens. Hamas murdered dozens of the nearly 900 diggers in its employ, fearing that they might reveal the tunnel locations to the advancing Israeli army.
This vast tunnel project, estimated to have cost some $90 million, was designed to dispatch an invasion force of thousands. In one of the tunnels the IDF found half a dozen motorcycles which would’ve been used to ferry terrorists into Israel, and bring Israeli hostages out.
These lesser known facts, and hundreds more, are compiled into a new report on the 2014 Gaza War, released last week by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs (JCPA), an Israel-based think tank headed by Dore Gold, Israel’s former ambassador to the UN who also served as an advisor to PM Benjamin Netanyahu during his first term in the 1990s.
A must-read document, written by the JCPA’s team of legal, military, media, and diplomatic experts, it details what really happened in this war that Israel never wanted, and the disaster that it miraculously averted.
Warning: the document is long and dense; it’s not something you can cover in an hour, or even a day. But it’s well worth taking the time to read.
A set of photos depict Hamas using human shields.
There are also views of Hamas operatives summarily executing Palestinian civilians for alleged collaboration with Israel. Helpful charts round out the report, including one that depicts the number of rockets fired from Gaza.
Divided into 11 chapters, the JCPA report is a meticulous documentation of Hamas’s crimes against humanity. It reveals Israel’s painstaking efforts to prevent and limit civilian casualties, and shows how the IDF succeeded in demolishing a sophisticated tunnel network, inadvertently preempting a planned terrorist massacre in Israel’s heartland.
It also chronicles the appalling response of the world’s so-called human rights organizations and professional journalists who “silently partnered” with Hamas to trivialize its blatant war crimes.
As “The Gaza War 2014” persuasively shows, the global network of Israel-haters who mobilized over the summer to demonize the Jewish State, vilify its leaders, and make light of the trauma visited on its people, based much of their reporting on pure speculation and shoddy evidence.
The included timeline of key events during the 50 day war is also especially useful for unmasking its essential truth:
the IDF was neither callous nor oblivious to the humanitarian needs of the Palestinian population in Gaza; it was a model army that was forced to fight an immoral terrorist organization that sought to endanger Israeli and Palestinian lives”.
This truth is backed up by an account of the events as they actually unfolded, and copious evidence (such as Israel’s sending 5,779 truckloads of supplies and 20 million liters of fuel through the Kerem Shalom crossing into Gaza, even as the fighting raged and those convoys came under heavy Hamas fire—a media story that was grossly under-reported).
Written to provide a “researched and documented” account of the war, the 100+ page report is not meant to deflect criticism of Israel’s security policies, or even its military campaign against Hamas in Gaza.
It has only one goal:
to relate the truth as it happened…a truth perverted by those who had an interest in doing so…blind to the fact that Israel was the target of thousands of rockets and mortar attacks, all against civilian populations, and with some targeted Israeli areas having three times the population density as Gaza”.
The JCPA study can now be added to another report released on March 11. Written by a panel of former senior U.S military officers and legal experts, the Gaza Conflict Task Force report also concludes that the IDF went well beyond its legal obligations to limit civilian casualties while attempting to achieve the mission’s objectives.
Commissioned by JINSA, the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs, the task force condemns Hamas for operating advanced weapons in densely populated civilian areas, “disregarding the safety of civilians and capitalizing on its enemy’s effort to comply with the law”. Like the JCPA report, the JINSA study is based on copious amounts of primary and secondary sources, and evidence gathered during a fact-finding mission to Israel, where the task force met with Israeli, UN, and Palestinian officials.
Hamas has initiated a grand total of zero probes into its own compliance with the laws of armed conflict (the LOAC). By contrast, Israel has initiated numerous investigations of its war conduct, making several reports available to the public.
On Thursday the IDF issued its third major report, detailing 120 incidents in various stages of review. To its credit, the army has already begun 13 criminal investigations where there is a “reasonable basis to think that the rules of engagement were not properly followed”. Based on Thursday’s report, 6 new criminal investigations will now be undertaken.
Last week the Palestinian Authority (PA) announced that it still plans to present a war crimes complaint against Israel at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in early April.
The Palestinians need to stop playing games.
It’s no secret that on August 28 PA President Mahmoud Abbas himself blamed Hamas for war crimes, including needlessly prolonging the war. In an interview aired on TV (included in the JCPA report), Abbas raked Hamas over the coals for rejecting and violating close to a dozen ceasefire proposals.
Had Hamas accepted the original ceasefire, Palestinian fatalities would have numbered less than 200, as opposed to the over 2,000 who died by the time Hamas finally agreed to stop its attacks.
In a new article, “Abbas Paving the Way to Turn West Bank into an Islamist State”, Khaled Abu Toameh reports that the PA’s latest war crimes charge is part of a larger effort to discredit PM Netanyahu’s impressive electoral victory on March 17 and “rally the world against Israel, so that it would be forced to submit to Abbas’s demands”.
Taking it one irresponsible step further, at a recent meeting of PLO leaders in Ramallah, PA security forces were asked to come up with a detailed plan to halt security coordination with Israel, which would make it possible for Hamas to “extend its control from the Gaza Strip to the West Bank”. As Toameh correctly notes:
“Abbas and the PLO leadership are, in effect, saying, ‘We don’t like the results of the elections and that is why we are going to facilitate a Hamas takeover of the West Bank’…In other words, Abbas has decided to join forces with the enemies of peace, simply because he does not like the results of the Israeli elections”.
Miriam F. Elman is a political scientist at the Maxwell School of Citizenship & Public Affairs, Syracuse University.