Research

Israel Used Commendable Caution to Prevent Civilian Casualties in the 2014 Gaza War

- April 17, 2015

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Every lost life or limb or the loss of the innocence of childhood is a tragedy in and of itself, which is why Israel takes thorough measures to prevent civilian casualties in conflicts, including in the 2014 Gaza war. As statistics bear out, Israel’s actions and record in protecting civilians on both sides of the conflict goes far beyond that of the US, UK and all other democracies. Palestinian terrorists endanger Palestinian civilians by using them as human shields, stealing humanitarian aid and carrying out summary executions in the streets to intimidate the population. Meanwhile, Israel goes above and beyond the laws of war to protect Palestinian civilians and their own humanity while upholding its obligations to protect its own civilians.

 

  • Col. (res.) Richard Kemp, former commander of British forces in Afghanistan, said, “No army in the world acts with as much discretion and great care as the IDF in order to minimize damage. The US and the UK are careful, but not as much as Israel.”
  • The IDF delivered telephone calls and text messages in Arabic and dropped leaflets to warn Gazan civilians to evacuate buildings it was about to attack.
  • The IDF used a “knock on the roof” – firing missiles without explosive warheads on the roof of buildings about to be bombed – to warn Palestinian civilians to leave the area.
  • In a Hamas manual on urban warfare captured by the IDF, Hamas admitted Israel’s careful tactics: “The soldiers and commanders (of the IDF) must limit their use of weapons and tactics that lead to the harm and unnecessary loss of people and [destruction of] civilian facilities. It is difficult for them to get the most use out of their firearms, especially of supporting fire.”
  • Because of this caution, which Hamas recognizes, it goes on to say that the presence of civilians will create “many pockets of resistance” and hinder the IDF’s ability to advance. It also speaks of the benefits that accrue to Hamas when civilian homes are destroyed: “This increases the hatred of the citizens towards the attackers and increases their gathering [support] around the city defenders [Hamas].”
  • A disproportionately large percentage of the casualties in Gaza were men of fighting age, per the Gaza Ministry of Health. According to The New York Times, “men ages 20 to 29, the population most likely to be militant, is also the most overrepresented in the death toll: They are 9 percent of Gaza’s 1.7 million residents, but 34 percent of those killed whose ages are provided.” If Israel was being indiscriminate, as alleged, this would not have been the case.
  • Hamas hides its fighters, weapons, and rocket launchers, and builds its smuggling tunnels, in the heart of Gaza’s civilian population. This use of human shields is a war crime according to the international laws of war.
  • During Operation Protective Edge, Hamas set up its main command center in the basement of al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City.
  • Hamas systematically intimidated journalists during the conflict, preventing them from providing an objective view to their readers. Journalists feared or were explicitly threatened with reprisals if they wrote about Hamas firing rockets from among densely-populated civilian areas.
  • Hamas’ Ministry of Interior published a video stating, “Anyone killed or martyred is to be called a civilian from Gaza or Palestine,  before we talk about his status in jihad or his military rank….Don’t forget to always add ‘innocent civilian’ or ‘innocent citizen’ in your description of those killed in Israeli attacks on Gaza.”

                           


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