The World’s Response to the Hostage Rescue Proves That Israel Can Do No Right

Blaming Israel at this point has become second nature.
June 12, 2024
Screen capture of a BBC broadcast about the hostage rescue

It is a tragedy that Palestinian civilians lost their lives in the course of the IDF’s mission to rescue four hostages from the Nuseirat refugee camp in Gaza.

But let’s not be confused about how this tragedy came about. When Hamas decided to turn a crowded refugee camp into a military stronghold and a dungeon for Israeli captives, they were guaranteeing that Nuseirat would eventually become a battlefield, and that when it did, innocent people would be hurt. 

This is what they wanted to happen. Hamas knows that mass casualty events put pressure on Israel, and so they engineer them wherever they can. This strategy depends on having reliable partners in the media and the international community. Luckily for Hamas, they have no shortage of those.

EU High Representative Joseph Borrell called Israel’s operation a “massacre.” 

A BBC anchor demanded to know why the IDF didn’t warn civilians in the area ahead of time about the top-secret undercover rescue operation. 

An “expert” interviewed by CNN called it one of the “bloodiest Israeli assaults” to date. 

But Israel taking a PR hit is not the worst result of this confusion. More troubling is the fact that the world is actively incentivizing Hamas’ use of human shields. Terrorists everywhere are watching and taking notes. The result will be, in this conflict and in future conflicts, more civilian deaths.

Hamas has reported that over 200 people were killed in the operation. At this point, we do not know if that number is correct. We do not know what percentage was killed by Hamas fire. We do not know how many of them were combatants. 

All we know is that 200 is a bigger number than 4, and this seems to be the source of some of the outrage over Israel’s mission. But comparing these two numbers, those killed versus those saved, tells us nothing about the morality of the operation. 

This is not how morality works. Nor is it how international law works. Germany suffered greater losses than the Allies in WWII. That doesn’t make them the good guy. Similarly, the fact that (according to the notorious Gaza Health Ministry) over 200 people died in an operation to rescue four individuals does not mean that Israel is the bad guy. 

Blaming Israel at this point has become second nature. Palestinian death tolls are reported without scrutiny and without distinguishing combatants from civilians and are then instantly interpreted as a barometer of Israel’s guilt. 

We are well-accustomed to these dynamics, but this latest incident clarifies something, which is that for Israel’s haters, nothing Israel does will ever be legitimate. 

After all, there can be no more justified operation than the mission to rescue Noa Argamani, Almog Meir Jan, Andrey Kozlov and Shlomi Ziv. Israel not only had a right to rescue them, but an obligation. The IDF also had every right to return fire when Hamas militants attempted to stop them from fleeing with the rescued hostages. 

The moral takeaway of this operation should be clear. One side of this war is willing to risk everything, including the life of the heroic commander Arnon Zamora, to save the lives of its people. The other side of this war intentionally endangers its people by hiding hostages in their midst and operating military strongholds in civilian areas. 

If Hamas wants the fighting to stop, there is an Israeli deal on the table to get the rest of the hostages home and stop the war. I hope, for the sake of the hostages and for the sake of Palestinian civilians in Gaza, that they take this deal. 

In the meantime, however, they should know that Israel, unlike the media and the international community, is not confused, and we will continue to do whatever it takes to rescue those who have been stolen from us.

Matthew Schultz is a Jewish Journal columnist and rabbinical student at Hebrew College. He is the author of the essay collection “What Came Before” (Tupelo, 2020) and lives in Boston and Jerusalem.  

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