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Hamas breaking humanitarian law, not Israel

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“Every country in the world faced with a situation [like the 7 October attacks] would have done exactly what the Israelis did, except maybe not as effectively,” said Colonel Richard Kemp in explaining Israel’s reaction to being invaded by Hamas terrorists on Black Saturday.

Kemp, former commander of the British army in Afghanistan, was speaking during a SA Jewish Report webinar on 30 November on the complexities of Israel’s war against Hamas. He was joined by international legal expert David Benjamin.

“For the IDF [Israel Defense Forces] in Gaza, the threat is constant,” said Kemp. The battlefield in places like Afghanistan, Iraq, and Gaza is complicated, he said, as you have “people dressed like civilians who are among the civilian population, so it becomes hard to identify who the bad guys are”.

He went on to say that with Gaza being such a small area, “The IDF has unrivalled intelligence on the details of Gaza. This allows it to be good at distinguishing civilians and fighters.

“Israel has developed a system whereby it can warn civilians. You’re not going to find this in every area of conflict,” said Benjamin, “It allows the military to be able to attack targets of high military value and not harm civilians.”

In his discussion, Kemp drew on years of studying and talking about Israel, and his career in fighting the kind of terrorism that Israel is facing with Hamas. He fought for the British military in operations in Ireland, Afghanistan, Iraq, and the Balkans. Following that, he worked in the British prime minister’s office in international intelligence, where he became closely associated with Israel.

“The sort of extreme care – like alerting civilians that there’s going to be an attack and that they must evacuate – which the IDF is known for by everybody who’s prepared to listen to the truth is something you can’t achieve in a country like Afghanistan,” said Kemp.

“Terrorists deliberately hide among the civilian population and use them as human shields,” he said. “Hamas wants the IDF to kill its civilians to delegitimise Israel to attract global vilification and isolation.”

Kemp said Hamas was happy to use protected locations like schools, hospitals, and mosques to store weapons and as command centres as it posed a problem for the IDF as the world didn’t see what was happening at that location, rather just a hospital.

“It’s in no way surprising that [Hamas] would behave in this way,” said Kemp. “[Its fighters] were well trained, well organised, and well drilled. They were acting like soldiers. We saw the pure pleasure they were experiencing butchering Jewish people and non-Jews in some cases.

“Hamas [fighters] filmed [the attacks] with their cameras,” said Kemp, “This is something that the Islamic State [ISIS] excelled at. They made sure that they filmed what they were doing. They filmed it and it got out there on the internet. They wanted people to know what they had done. [Hamas] wanted to inspire other people, grotesque as it sounds to any civilised person.

“The troubling thing is that a lot of people, a lot of jihadists around the world and their supporters, have celebrated this footage. They are showing respect for Hamas for doing what it did, and Hamas knew that this would be the case, so it’s a part of its whole terror campaign,” he said.

Benjamin then explained how the laws of war differed vastly from those during peacetime and that things we find completely abhorrent during peacetime become legal during war. The most obvious was the fact that it’s legal for a military operation to kill people and destroy property in times of war.

“In Israel, international humanitarian law is written into the standing orders and modus operandi of the IDF. The IDF is a professional body and it works according to humanitarian law by definition,” said Benjamin. “Israel goes out of its way to protect its civilians. Any Israeli military asset that fires into Gaza is far away from any civilian so that even if there’s counterfire, that won’t endanger civilians,” Benjamin said.

Benjamin went on to explain that in war, it’s acceptable to attack a legitimate military target if you’ll achieve a military benefit from it. “The general principle is that if the harm would be excessive in relation to the military advantage, then you must refrain from attacking,” said Benjamin. “The laws of war don’t demand reciprocity.

“If you go through a list of the laws of war, you’ll find that Hamas breaks just about every single one of them,” said Benjamin. “It’s 100% clear that one of the advantages of Hamas is that it means what it says. We need to take it at its word.”

Kemp maintained that after the attacks by Hamas on 7 October, “there was no option for the Israeli government other than to launch an air campaign” as it made it easier for the IDF to go in on the ground later.

“The IDF has been extremely successful on the ground and from the air,” said Kemp, pointing out that you could see how successful the IDF had been in that Hamas was pressing for a ceasefire. “Hamas was desperate for this ceasefire. It was about getting breathing space and buying time. They knew they were on the road to disaster,” said Kemp.

“I’m certain the IDF will have spent time studying the lessons from this war, seeing how Hamas fights, operates, and communicates. Once Hamas lays down its weapons, it melts back into the civilian population so the IDF isn’t going to kill every single one,” said Kemp considering how the war will end.

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  1. Kohinor Hall

    December 24, 2023 at 12:20 am

    This article Hamas Breaking Humanitarian Law Not Israel,
    is the biggest bunch of utter lies that is clearly reported in all
    media outlets both social media and mainstream.
    The IDF has killed over 20000 Palestinian civilians, mostly women and children. FACTS.

  2. Jessica

    January 1, 2024 at 5:27 pm

    No argument. Hamas is solely responsible for every single Israeli and Gazan death and injury.

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