Saturday, August 15, 2009

Blah Blah Massacre War Crimes Genocide Blah

Hamas forces blew up a house belonging to radical Salafi cleric who had called for the creation of an Islamic emirate in Gaza, part of a network of organizations in Gaza, many affiliated with al-Qaeda, which believe Hamas is too moderate. The detonation occurred after clashes erupted between his and Hamas militants. Between the ensuing gunfight and the detonation, 21 were killed and 121 injured, mostly civilians.*
In a televised statement, Hamas ministry spokesman Taher Nunu called al-Maqdessi's group "outlaws" and said they have been "terrorizing the country and attacking civilians."

"We hold the group and its leader fully responsible for what is happening in Gaza and we offer our condolences to everyone who was killed during the clashes," Nunu said. "No one is above the law and we urge everyone who is a member of this group to surrender himself to the authorities or they will be accountable for all of their actions."

Of course, I too extend my condolences to the civilians caught up in this strife. But part of me wonders if, even a little bit, this experience gives Hamas an inkling that urban warfare operations against entrenched terrorist outfits are really difficult and lend themselves to civilian casualties, even if you don't want them to. Of course, we have no idea how Hamas conducted this operations and what safeguards, if any, it took to safeguard civilian lives. As I wrote in the immediate aftermath of Cast Lead, few people possess the factual information necessary to make a considered and accurate judgment on who is "at fault" for civilian deaths in any given armed clash, which counsels humility and forbearance of judgment. That holds true here, too.

Another part of me, however, just wants to shout WAR CRIMES TARGETING CIVILIANS MASS MURDER MASSACRE GENOCIDE SAVAGES BLOOD-SOAKED ILLEGITIMATE REGIME. But that's a part of me that I try to repress as much as possible.

* Actually I have no idea, but that accusation is typically leveled and accepted with little to no evidence whatsoever, so hey, why not. (Obviously, that statement and this footnote offered in the same spirit as the final paragraph of the post).

UPDATE: Latest reports say six of the 24 killed were unarmed civilians, with 125 injured (no word on their affiliation).

7 comments:

Charlie H. Ettinson said...

"We hold the group and its leader fully responsible for what is happening in Gaza and we offer our condolences to everyone who was killed during the clashes."

Almost verbatim what Israel says about Hamas after IDF operations in the strip. I wonder if Hamas notices the irony.

How long do you think before we hear Hamas suggesting that this cleric and his group were creations of the Zionists from the CIA and the Mossad?

Charlie H. Ettinson said...

I was too quick and snarky with that last comment. I actually think there's an interesting lesson here.
This is at least the second (some would argue the third) time that Hamas has withstood an armed challenge to their rule in the Gaza strip. The first was fighting against Fatah, the second, arguably, was cast lead (though the stated goal of cast lead was not to remove Hamas) and this could be seen as at least the third.
It speaks to the staying power of Hamas and their willingness to resort to wild violence to hold their position. It makes it appear as though military force will not be the downfall of Hamas, that it will have to come some other way.

ansel said...

"Actually I have no idea, but that accusation is typically leveled and accepted with little to no evidence whatsoever, so hey, why not."

Suppressing your honesty, logic, or something there, huh. Little to no evidence. Right.

David Schraub said...

I was referring to the casualty count for Cast Lead writ large -- which people were shrieking was mostly civilian before anyone had any way of remotely knowing that (indeed, after early reports were indicating that they were mostly militants).

You know as well as I do that these sorts of accusations are made with ideology first, evidence later. That's true for activists on all sides.

ansel said...

"You know as well as I do that these sorts of accusations are made with ideology first, evidence later. That's true for activists on all sides."

David, even if I disagree I usually think you're making an effort to be thoughtful and evidence-based. But I find that statement and this whole thread, full of sweeping generalizations... utterly non-sensical. What are you talking about?

David Schraub said...

Don't be obtuse. Whenever the IDF launches an operation, folks with an investment in a certain interpretation immediately begin ascribing to it characteristics ("took every effort to protect civilians"; "targeted/killed mostly noncombatants") that they have no way of knowing are true or not. The Jenin massacre was one clear example, the early commentary on Cast Lead is another. These are the sort of things that are require investigation and facts that are generally impossible to obtain simultaneous with the event from a internet cafe in Seattle (or even Jerusalem). Ideology precedes fact all the time (this isn't, of course, disproved by the fact that some groups do collect the facts before -- or after -- they level said accusations. I'm indicting the discourse broadly; it's a generalization because I think it's generally flawed).

Rebecca said...

It seems to me now that we should be very suspicious of HRW reports about Israel/Palestine now, given what Ben Dror Yemini has dug about Joe Stork, a senior official of HRW, and his anti-Israel politics going back to the 1970s. For the Hebrew see - http://www.nrg.co.il/online/1/ART1/930/244.html. For an English translation, courtesy Noah Pollak, see http://www.commentarymagazine.com/blogs/index.php/pollak/76201. Along with the recent revelation that HRW has been trying to raise money in Saudi Arabia by trashing Israel (see discussion by Jeffrey Goldberg of the Atlantic), this new evidence shows that HRW really needs to engage in some serious housecleaning in order to be credible again about the Israel/Palestine conflict.