The war a couple of weeks down the road

A few posts ago I talked about what dynamics were driving the war. Some details have changed, but this is still
mostly accurate (from July 15):

The Israelis are trying to accomplish two goals:

1. Kill people who are actively involved in attempts to kill Israelis.

2. Destroy missiles.

Hamas is trying to launch missiles for as long as they can and keep as much of their capacity as possible when some sort of ceasefire goes into effect.

Hamas operates on a Human Shield model of warfare. How this works is: Missile launching sites are hidden in populated areas, typically at the exits to hardened tunnels. So, they’re next to schools, hospitals, in residences, etc. This not only makes them difficult to find, it means retaliating against the launch sites is likely to kill civilians. And, of course, combatants are hidden among civilians as much as possible.

What’s to stop the Israelis from going until they destroy all the missiles?

Even if we leave the humanitarian aspect completely out of the equation (which I don’t think is fair to the Israelis): The more civilians they kill, the more public pressure builds on them to stop, which leaves Hamas with capacity. This means the incentives of conventional warfare are turned on their heads: It is in the interest of the Israelis to minimize Gazan civilian casualties so they can continue eliminating missiles (and combatants), while it is in the interest of Hamas to maximize their own civilian casualties such that public pressure forces the Israelis to stop before they’ve destroyed a significant amount of Hamas’ capacity.

 The use of the word "missiles" in the above is apparently incorrect - the correct term for what they have is "rockets." The difference is apparently that missiles may imply "guided."  

Basically, my original contention was that Hamas was waging a PR war in order to handcuff Israel from being able to react to attacks. They're doing a good job, and we're seeing what it looks like a couple of weeks down the road.

The main difference between then and now is that we know much more about the tunnels now, and they turn out to be about a whole lot more than protecting rocket launch sites. At the time, we didn't know how extensive the network was, we didn't realize just how much of the ostensibly scarce building materials Gaza got were going into tunnel construction, we didn't know how resistant to aerial attack they were, and we most importantly didn't know that many of them terminate inside of Israel, in at least one case two kilometers inside Israel. 

Israel had the not very tenable (but often very expected) option of simply allowing Hamas to launch rockets at Israel as long as not many Israelis were actually getting killed, even though a significant portion of the population was spending an awful lot of time in bomb shelters (still is), but the option of leaving any tunnels leading into Israel undetected and intact is completely untenable. It became even more untenable when Hamas fighters captured by the IDF started explaining exactly what the tunnels were for: A nighttime attack planned for Rosh Hashanah involving the killings and kidnappings of large numbers of civilians. Which explains why the Israelis found rope, handcuffs, and tranquilizers inside the tunnel entrances. Now the Israelis really can't stop.

In the early days of the war, it was obvious that Israel was trying to minimize civilian casualties. A bare minimum of five out of six airstrikes for the first week resulted in zero fatalities (1200-1400 airstrikes, fewer than 200 fatalities). That minimum assumes that the average airstrike resulting in any fatalities resulted in a single fatality, which we know isn't true. If the average fatal airstrike resulted in two fatalities, that would be more than eleven out of twelve airstrikes resulting in no fatalities, etc.. Given how easy it would be to kill civilians with airstrikes in Gaza, no other conclusion is numerically feasible. 

But once the ground war started, that Israel was trying to minimize civilian casualties became a good deal less obvious. If they were being as conscientious as they were during the air war, they weren't doing a very good job of showing it. And Hamas took full advantage of this, not only by publicizing everything they could, but by blaming Israel for deaths that Israel wasn't actually responsible for. The New York Times ran a photograph of a couple of killed Palestinian children with a caption saying the photo was taken in Gaza. Actually, it was taken in Syria, where the number of Palestinian civilians killed has been far higher than in Gaza recently. However, at least as far as Hamas (and most of the West) is concerned, Palestinian civilians killed in Syria don't count, so Hamas repurposed the photograph. They went on to blame the Israelis for something referred to as the "Shati camp massacre" where nine Palestinian children were killed in a camp run by the United Nations. The Israelis denied it. And then an Italian journalist by the name of Gabriele Barbati came out of Gaza and, once he felt safe enough from Hamas to talk, reported that he witnessed a Hamas misfire hit the camp.

So the stakes have risen, but the dynamic remains the same. There are claims that there is no evidence of  Hamas engaging in human shield warfare. I guess whoever says that means aside from using a hospital as Hamas headquarters:

but there has been a lot more to it than that. 

We knew early in the war that when Israel informed Gazan civilians that they were going to bomb areas in northern Gaza and people wanted to go south that Hamas advised their population to stay put. Why? We know why. 

We knew fairly early on that the rockets weren't killing a whole lot of people and had nearly zero military value, so much so that Mahmoud Abbas (head of the Palestinian Authority) essentially asked Hamas why they were bothering. The only substantive thing they managed to accomplish (outside of driving so many Israelis into shelters) was curtailing international flights to Ben Gurion Airport for a couple of days. 

We also know that the rockets have been one of the major justifications for Israeli military action, particularly before the Israelis found out that tunnels terminated inside Israel. If Hamas wanted the Israelis to stop killing Gazan civilians, they could have accomplished this by simply stopping the rocket launches. 

So, if the rockets aren't doing much damage but they are drawing Israeli fire, why continue to launch rockets?

The answer is in the question. 

To draw Israeli fire. If enough civilians are killed, Israel will have trouble reacting to the next attack because of public opinion. Hamas is trading lives for PR. 

Why? Because Hamas' number one priority is to get rid of Jews. The welfare of the population they're governing is secondary. That's what their charter says and that's how they behave. This is portrayed as political, but it's really religious/ethnic. 

Do you think I'm exaggerating? On July 28, the top Hamas official in Lebanon, Osama Hamdan, cited the Blood Libel as fact in an interview on Lebanese television.

Maybe you're unfamiliar with the Blood Libel. It's a lie dating from the Middle Ages used to incite populations against Jews. It actually shows up in the Caunterbury Tales. It states that Jews use the blood of Christian children to make matzah for Passover. You might find that ridiculous to the point of comical, but it was on television presented as fact a little over a week ago, courtesy of a high Hamas official. 

Perhaps you think this is all a reaction to the Israeli reaction after those three teenagers were murdered on the West Bank. And that might be feasible except that the tunnels into Israel, supplied with ropes and handcuffs and tranquilizers, didn't magically materialize in July; they'd been under construction for years. Under construction with tons and tons and tons of construction materials desperately needed in Gaza, but Hamas doesn't put their resources into their people, they put their resources into attacking Israel. 

All sorts of resources. Even forced child labor.  It turns out that children are particularly useful at building tunnels, given their conveniently small size and agility, so Hamas used them as forced labor, sort of like children were used as chimney sweeps in Victorian London. It was dangerous work, and at least 160 of them were killed.;

Killing Jews was so important that it was worth the lives of at least 160 of their children to set the stage for it. 

Speaking of the tunnels, let me get back to the human shield point again, though I'd say the last point is a fairly good indicator of Hamas concern for the lives of their civilians. During the first week of the war, we were told by all sorts of people, even my landsman Jon Stewart, that when the Israelis announced that they were about to bomb, the Gazans had nowhere to go. 

Let's say you govern a territory under which there is an extensive series of fortified tunnels up to a hundred feet underground whose entrances are scattered throughout areas with high civilian populations. Now let's say you are informed that an aerial attack is going to hit a given area shortly. What do you do with those civilians?

If you're Hamas, you tell them to stay put, you leave them above ground to die and invite the foreign press to see their corpses. 

And you wonder why we call them a terrorist organization. 

Views: 99

Comment by Arthur James on August 5, 2014 at 1:22am


It's still early for substance thoughts.

I got a morn habit. I visit Open/Closed,

and read Opines. Thanks for Spell Check.

I wish we could spiel how Howells Sound.

I butchered Musician ` Antonin Dyorack.

Annabella ( ten ) corrects my pronunciation.


" Pa Pa. No Yell ` O, Good GoooDoD!

She Busy In the Galaxies Far Far Off

and Away. Pa Pa, No annoy Celestial

Creatures Who are No Visible To The

Naked. ( She means To The Naked Eye )

Yodel ` Oh, my Lard, O, Gosh! She Busy as a

Proverbial Beaver. She Damn. She has Not a

Second To Spare. She shuns Tumultuous and

Raspy Throat Talk Fest! She Shuns! O Rabid.

She read ` Alice In Wonderland and Visit A

Rabbit Hole. ` Alice Voices her Views In A

Children's Sane ` Lingo."  She creates the

space to imagine a BCE notion? We gasp

Last Breath. We give account. What deeds

did we do in Mortal Flesh? Has the Gaza 

Killing advanced Respect For People Who

Deserve a Safe Haven and Refuge Upon

Terrestrial Earth? Meditate on Children

Who were Severed By Weaponry That

Base Armament profiteers heaved That

Old Time ` Filthy Lucre ' That Deadens

The Inner ` Person's Capacity To See.

See? Ears to ` Hear and Eyes To See.

Meditate on ` Children, Woman, and

Other Former ` Living Creatures, and

Remember the ` Reason we were born?



Gasp . . .

Veil is lifted.

Judgement Day.

It's nor easy...


Croak and find?

Better Yet, Open 

Heart in a Now.


Behold, Spirit stands

at the door and knocks.

Without a Open heart

and Open door of true

Hospitality we never

see/hear or exchange

Inner Virtues ( gifts )


A Rabbi in DC shared

isdon Literature Chap

7 & 8 - Ecclesiasticus.

He was in Love with

Michele ( ` 1 ' L ' )

She use to Farm.

She was wooed

by pathetic gin

drunk. Sad...

I get no pay,

and vent away...


This carnage is sad.

We? Who carpet bombed

with 500- pound B- 52's?

I recall the Howitzer ` 155 '

and can hear wails, and

flute (bamboo) music in

the jungle. Sad dirges.

One night I recall...

It was sad weeping.

Bombs ceased, and

weeping commenced.

Comment by Jonathan Wolfman on August 5, 2014 at 3:48am

I appreciate the argument and the details.

Comment by Arthur James on August 5, 2014 at 6:25am


Hoot Owl Entertains.

Each Morn... Hoots.

Train chugs along?

A muddy Potomac.

The creek feeds into

the Potomac at the

Williamsport, Md.

C & O ` Canal '

I get to hear Owls

that screech nice...

Comment by koshersalaami on August 5, 2014 at 7:03am

Your granddaughter sounds great.

I loved the C&O Canal when I lived there. I lived in Georgetown for a while. When I was playing Renaissance music, I once had a gig on a barge on the canal, playing a bass recorder (borrowed) while being pulled along by a mule. A quiet way to travel.

The bamboo flute dirge is a very compelling image of your memory.

The problem in Gaza is that a lot of the people who are dying aren't the people who are attacking Israel because they're deliberately hard to separate, I guess like the Viet Cong, the difference being that Americans had their homes across the sea, not where the Viet Cong were shooting. Americans were not fighting for something they regarded as their own homeland. The Viet Cong weren't digging tunnels to kidnap and kill your family and friends. They weren't sending the majority of Americans into bomb shelters on a regular basis, with sirens going off in Frederick and Hagerstown saying "seek shelter quickly, Incoming." And knowing that those same sirens were going off in Atlanta, and Cleveland, and Pocatello, and Kansas City, and Santa Fe, and Bangor, and San Diego. That would have made the war different. 

Comment by Arthur James on August 5, 2014 at 7:13am


I k.n.o.w.

DC can be Great.

I view kayaks,

and see team work.

Rowing oars is weary.




Cartoon - If near Frederick,

better yet - Williamsport, Md. ? visit?

( they have a new C & O Canal Museum.

Better than that? Clear Spring? Knock

on Door? Tell knot ant knock no jokes?


Annabella says to her Peers ` I her Best

Pa Pa Friend. She is darling ` I Love Her


She helps me ` cut & paste ' as She Use To.

Comment by koshersalaami on August 5, 2014 at 7:40am
Where's Williamsport? I get to Maryland on business a lot.
Comment by JMac1949 Today on August 5, 2014 at 7:53am

Ugly scene with no winners... I have no ideas.  R&R

Comment by koshersalaami on August 5, 2014 at 10:31am

As I said on the other site, I don't either in this case. I can't tell Israel to tolerate more rockets and I can't tell Israel not to get rid of the tunnels. I don't know what it takes to do either when dealing with an organization whose aims are furthered by having you hurt and kill their civilians. 

Comment by Arthur James on August 5, 2014 at 2:52pm


I just arrive here for therapy...

I had ` odd ' pop-up ' earlier.

the Wash/Post had a `tunnel '

history ref` Viet` Nam's ground

defense against ` Wall-Strret's 

Formidable Ill` War's Arsenals...


There's a deeper ` History of Oppression '

The war's topics ` Provoke blood Sheds '

and Violence breeds ` More Blood spilt '


I need to pause... It's ` Sick ` Blood-letting '

Depraved saddest... It's ` Sick ' Perdition '

and ay, consider... It's ` illusion ` OHO!'

and do ponder a ... Wake` Afterlife  ` ah!

Comment by Arthur James on August 5, 2014 at 3:24pm


Buy map? Williamsport is between

Clear Spring, and SOUTH ' huh 

Caps ` accident  ' google ' ` huh

Clear Springers call` um ` rats.

As tease ` Potomac River's Rats.

They nice ` Poor River's ` Rural's.

In `Nam ` Cu chi' is ` tunnel ' land '

The tunnel rats were ` smaller ` GI's '

Wash/Post has a ` Tunnel war ` notion '

It was a week ago? ` Tunnel War `survival '

Vietnam's ` Coo ' Chi ` is hot ` tourism .


The tunnel ` Survival ' Mind-Set ' Read?

The Tunnel ` Survival '[ is ] poor` human '

aim to be so` Dignified ` O, to survive?


I been away and am so ` Way ' Behind '

and I listen to ` ELLINGTON ' at thee '

White House ` 1969 ' for edification '

and potents ` Memory ' O, positive '

and hope ` even IF EVIL ` a` bounds '




I be back?



O? no go?


O, smell?




\Ya well/

` ?' no?\

be well\


so so sad\





I go nap,

and eat



and go














sever broke?

buttons broke?

Who so so ills?


Ya know who?

Who  so odd?

so deluded?


O, no guess.

It beyond ill.

No be devil's

Vain fool's

Oddest ` tool '

as same `ills '

BCE's ` Fools '


No chAnge?

No be Fool?


comment do

stuck ` gin '

as so ` often '

deleter ` visit '

earthen ` coffin '

and then a ` Wake '

and mortician ` Say '

baloney ` O, ` kosher '

but? OHO` heehaws '


i never know what to

comment that is sane

and a wee-bit sanest 

\and appropriate/ `, '

` as ` , ' a ` pause ` , '

I be busy all day, and

no be goofing ` off '
honest...i shut ` off '

and retry a ` odd ' `ole '

lame dang` odd ' huh '

pop-off's ` pop` huh '

sweet's `odd blurts '

as a ` `odd` burps '

and ` odd ` hush '




` , '


a ` , '

be rude?


no rules?

who knows?

I take nap≥`,'


stinky comment?

re` try ' a ` gin.

bah ` karma '

sad ` self/ruins '

as in ` BCE/Lit '



no ever cower...

It's depravity ...

Lost. Perdition...


i cross toes. nose,

ears, and knees?

I hope this goes.


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