The phoney war between Israel and Hamas - article for UnHerd 22.05.21

The Western media exaggerates the reality of asymmetric conflict: article by Professor Edward Luttwak who is a strategist and historian known for his works on grand strategy, geo-economics, military history, and international relations. A former chief of staff of the US Air Force describes him as "a hell of a lot smarter than Clausewitz."


Earlier this week, an Israeli soldier was wounded by a Hamas mortar bomb while guarding a convoy of heavy trucks loaded with medical supplies, food and fuel at the Erez crossing between Israel and Gaza. Yes, it was in Israel’s interest to reduce the suffering of Gaza’s inhabitants while it pursued its campaign to protect its own population by finding and destroying Hamas and Islamic Jihad rockets stored in basements and underground tunnels: the less suffering and death, the less diplomatic pressure on Israel (particularly from the US) to call off its campaign unilaterally.


For the same reason, it was in Israel’s interest to accept extraordinary limitations on its bombing. Before attacking any occupied building, whether to destroy command posts or stored rockets or mortar bombs, the residents are warned with phone calls and often also by a “knock on the roof” — a guided weapon with no explosive that delivers a shock at impact but hardly ever hurts anyone. If civilians are spotted in or near the targeted building, attacks are delayed or called off.


All this sacrifices military gains for Israel; Hamas, naturally, takes full advantage of the bombing warnings to move out its personnel and portable equipment. But lost military gains are better than added political costs, and by now even Israeli corporals know that in warfare only political victories count.


And so it’s worth noting that in spite of all the imagery of death and destruction, in spite of the incessant media talk of genocide, the Hamas-controlled Gaza Health Ministry reported a total of 232 killed just after the ceasefire. Yesterday, by comparison, Israel’s estimate was that it had killed at least roughly 215 combatants, including 25 “senior commanders’ — but in the Hamas count they mysteriously become innocent civilians, with some becoming children. (Note Hamas does have some teenage recruits).


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The phoney war between Israel and Hamas
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