A number of writers have recently written on what is now widely evident, that Hamas is pursuing a war strategy that depends critically on maximizing their own civilian casualties: the more, the more gruesome, the better. I append to this post a bibliography of essays identifying and analyzing this strategy.
Hamas’ strategy works like this:
Cyclically attack your enemy’s civilians in such as way as to provoke a violent retaliation.
Hide behind civilians (neighborhoods, schools, hospitals) so that the retaliation does your civilians the maximal damage.
Produce an industry of lethal narratives portraying Israel as ruthless murderers of civilians (a projection of Hamas tactics and desires).
Have these lethal narratives circulated by journalists as news, so that international opinion rises up against Israel.
Survive until that international outrage forces the Israelis to pull back and save you.
Repeat, with each reiteration making Israel weaker on the military battlefield and more isolated in the global community.
Given how merciless and self-destructive this strategy, it has proven surprisingly effective. As Jeremy Bowen explains, each round is a race in time between the moments the Israelis strike (back) and the time an incensed international community intervenes decisively to stop the “humanitarian crisis.”
And as Christiane Amanpour puts it to Tony Blair, the more the casualties mount, the less time Israel has:
And thus, we find the same self-destructive and murderous “cycle of violence” in which Hamas targets both Israeli and Palestinian civilians, playing out once again, with ominous consequences both for those in conflict, Palestinians and Israelis, and also for the global community, which increasingly discovers that every round of local violence here provokes greater violence and hatred around the world.
This cannibalistic strategy depends heavily on the world’s news media – the outsider “information professionals” – playing a critical, dual role: on the one hand playing up the suffering the the maximum. No other conflict in the world gets the attention that this one does, despite how much bloodier and more tragic they may be.
But the terribly suffering alone will not suffice. If the world blamed Hamas for that suffering, their war strategy would backfire and they would lose decisively, both in the kinetic war (military battlefied) and the cognitive one. The information professionals’ second and equally crucial task is to blame Israel for the violence. Without that, no world outrage against them, no intervention on Hamas’ side, no next round.
The question then is, why would the Western media, which by all markers considers itself progressive, play so critical a role in so destructive and belligerent a war strategy? Otherwise put, why do the Palestinians have “friends” – the information professionals – journalists, academics, NGOs, activists – who consistently strengthen their predatory elites?
Notes Oren at the end of his piece:
Just as Israel must relentlessly scrutinize its military actions in Gaza and their consequences, so, too, must journalists take a hard look at the way they cover this conflict. They must not allow themselves to act as accessories to Hamas’s murderous strategy that delegitimizes Israel and prolongs the Palestinians’ suffering.