Opinion: What is HAMAS’s game plan?

On the face of it, for HAMAS to simply fire its unguided rockets into Israel, in the hope some may hit something important, or kill someone, is stupid. Nothing HAMAS can do will inflict any serious damage on the state of Israel, they are just annoying Israel (a lot). So why are they doing it, assuming their actions are rational? Their actions may not be rational of course, they may be so consumed by hatred of Israel that they are striking out any way they can. But assuming they are acting in a rational manner, what can they hope to gain from this? Maybe what has occurred is what they wanted – for Israel to react violently, to go in on the ground, and to strike by air against the rocket-launching sites. At least one rocket was shown on TV being launched from next to a school, probably many others also. HAMAS must have known that in the densely-populated Gaza strip, the Israeli retaliation could not fail to kill many civilians. And the killing of these civilians would bring down the disapproval of the outside world against the Israelis. All military actions (assuming they are rational) are undertaken to achieve a political objective. So, has HAMAS achieved its political objective? If this is correct then HAMAS is as guilty as the Israelis of the deaths of so many innocents. They have deliberately sacrificed their own people in order to win the sympathy of the outside world. We are all responsible for the foreseeable consequences of our actions. The consequences of HAMASs actions were all too foreseeable.

Although no doubt a short-term peace deal will be put together, in the longer term I fear that Peace in the Middle East is beyond the power of just the Israelis and Palestinians. So long as so many in the Middle East aspire to wipe Israel off the face of the map, the Israelis will have little incentive to relax and make concessions. Indeed, it would be politically impossible for any democratically-elected Israeli government to make concessions to the Palestinians that looked as if they would make Israel more vulnerable. I think that it requires a contribution from the surrounding Arab countries to make Peace in the Middle East really work. If they can bring themselves to accept the State of Israel, and convince the Israelis they really mean it, then Israel will be in a position to make concessions to the Palestinians such as to create an enduring peace.

All comments on this post will be pre-moderated. 

* Steve Coltman is parliamentary spokesperson for Loughborough and an Executive member of the Association of Liberal Democrat Engineers and Scientists although he writing here in a personal capacity.

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58 Comments

  • Wayne Lockwood 30th Jul '14 - 11:00am

    So glad this is an ‘Opinion’ piece as the amount of conjecture in here is remarkable. To extrapolate from facts is one thing, to extrapolate from one rocket shown on TV being launched from near a school to ‘probably many others also’ is a leap, especially in the face of reporters from across the media & independent UN observers claiming there is no evidence of Hamas using citizens as human shields. Hamas is hardly blameless but to describe their motives as cynically as this when their actions are in the main retaliatory seems to be a blatant ignorance of how the conflict began or continues. Huffington Post did a great article debunking a lot of what is being trotted out as fact here http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/mehdi-hasan/gaza-israel_b_5624401.html

  • Malcolm Todd 30th Jul '14 - 11:02am

    I think this is, sadly, exactly right. It most obviously doesn’t mean that Israel is right to react as it does, or that it is not culpable for the hundreds of deaths of Palestinian civilians — but can anyone seriously doubt that this is exactly what Hamas want to happen, and that they are therefore also culpable?

    I suppose there is no chance that this article will be exempt from the usual howls of partisan rage; but I hope some at least will recognise that it is quite possible, rational and consistent to believe simultaneously that:
    * the actions of the Israeli military in Gaza are monstrous
    * the actions of the Hamas regime, both in inciting the Israeli reaction and in how they govern in Gaza, are monstrous
    * the Israeli government ought to stop their blockade of Gaza and repeated massive military attacks on the territory, regardless of what Arab governments do
    * the people of Israel have a legitimate fear of their neighbours’ intentions, notwithstanding their own military strength
    * Arab governments have used and abused the Palestinian cause for their own purposes and could do much to improve the prospects of peace themselves by recognising Israel as a legitimate state and guaranteeing its safety
    * the founding of the modern state of Israel in 1948 was legally and morally dubious at best, and would not be tolerated if it were proposed today
    * the existence of the modern state of Israel now is a fact of the world, to destroy it would be a crime, and to threaten even implicitly to do so only prolongs the suffering of the Palestinian people and of the region as a whole.

    You may not agree with all of the above propositions, of course. But before you take them apart, perhaps you could ask yourself whether you are only disputing the ones that don’t suit the narrative of your “side” .

  • Matthew Huntbach 30th Jul '14 - 11:09am

    Both sides in the Gaza conflict seem to feel that their violence is justified by the violence of the other side. Both sides react in mock surprise when they find the opposite side thinks as they do, as if they somehow expected the other side to say “fair do, in response to your violence we’ll give in”. Neither side seems to think “Well, if our natural reaction to violence is to give more back, the other side must think that way as well”.

    If it carries on in this way, the ONLY way it can end is when one side is wiped out so completely that it can no longer inflict violence.

    I find Israel’s violence more horrible than Gaza’s, because it is so disproportionate, and Gaza’s more horrible than Israel’s because it is so futile and so obviously just about macho pride at the expense of what it brings back in retaliation. When both sides persist in this horrible and illogical behaviour, then I think we can do nothing but sit back and let them do it.

    Meanwhile, the wiping out of religious minorities from large parts of the Arab world is continuing, but since those religious minorities are just quietly leaving without engaging in violence, no-one seems to care too much about them. The fact that so many Muslims get all worked up about their co-religionists in Palestine, but don’t seem to care a fig about what their co-religionists are doing to a larger number of people in countries where they are dominant does not, in my view, show them and their religion up in a good light. Didn’t someone once condemn that attitude as complaining about the speck in your brother’s eye while ignoring the plank in your own?

  • Jeffrey Kaufman 30th Jul '14 - 11:40am

    Exactly my thoughts

  • Clearly Hamas want to win the sympathy of the outside world. So what?

    Is that a stupid aim, on their part? Clearly not. They are never going to win the war, but rationally, they are much more likely to gain concessions from Israel if the outside world insists that the concessions be made.

    Does it mean that Hamas are acting in a duplicitous and/or morally culpable way? That’s a more difficult question, but, three points. First, when Steve Coltman talks about Isreal “reacting”, he is absorbing the Israeli propaganda which seeks to establish that it was the other guy who started the fight. That’s not true. It is an ongoing war. Hamas’s behaviour is just as “reactive” as Israel’s is.

    Secondly, Matthew above talks of the Palestinian stance as “obviously just about macho pride”. Yes, but is this the macho pride of a Mike Tyson, proud to dominate? Or is it the macho pride of a Solomon Northup, desperate to maintain his pride in the face of the degradations of slavery, knowing that if his pride and self-respect are taken from him, he will lose heart, succumb, and die?

    Thirdly, Steve talks about a Hamas rocket “launched next to a school”, the “evil Hamas are using innocent civilians as human shields” argument. We really must not give credence to false arguments written by Israeli propagandists. Gaza is a jam-packed slum. Any Hamas site can’t help being next to a school, or a hospital, or a place where children play.

    Clearly both sides in a war share moral culpability for the slaughter, sometimes equally, sometimes unequally. We shared some culpability for what happened in the Second World War, though our share was grossly unequal to Hitler’s far, far greater share. Similarly, Hamas share some culpability for what is happening now, and no doubt a lot of their people have some pretty unpleasant views. But does that culpability equate to Israel’s culpability in mass civilian murder? No way.

  • Very sensible comment on this piece. Isn’t it also worth noting that it isn’t just Hamas rockets though there are other militant groups in Gaza like Islamic Jihad. From 2007 onwards a lot of commentators have pointed out it was the other militant groups that carried out most of the rocket fire not Hamas armed wing that engaged in most of the missile fire. Hamas didn’t stop them doing this of course as they didn’t want to lose more of their support to the likes of Islamic Jihad.

    The place where religious minorities are fighting very aggressively for survival is Syria. The Syrian government is dominated by Alawaites and almost all the senior people who aren’t Alawaite, certainly in the top ranks of the Muhabarrat (the secret police), are Christians. The rise of ISIS does rather give grist to the mill of Assad and his supporters that they were fighting terrorists all along. If they had engaged in domestic reform and the Saudi and Gulf Arab states hadn’t armed the opposition maybe the tragedy could have been averted in Syria. Sadly the blind spot of Western leaders to the malign influence of our allies in the Arabian Peninsula seems to continue.

  • I think the assumption that HAMAS is rational is wrong. They are not just flinging rockets at Israel, They have spent years digging tunnels into Israel so they could send troops to abduct and kill Jews! They run kids shows that encourage the killing of Jews. HAMAS see this as a war and this is how they wage it,
    As for the idea that Israel’s response is disproportionate. Lets imagine that England or France or the US was facing a similar cranky group, How do you think we would react? Judging by recent events, I think with the full force our navies, air forces, ground troupes and armoured divisions. The result would be tens of thousands of casualties and full blown occupation by thousands of troupes.

  • David Allen 30th Jul '14 - 1:08pm

    Joe, your Google map looks pretty jam-packed to me. Of course there will be gaps between schools and hospitals, but then those will be filled with all sorts of things like markets, play spaces, family houses etc, all of which the Israelis will happily describe as “human shields”. Perhaps, if you search really carefully, you might find a nice isolated site, easy for the Israelis to find and bomb, from which the Israelis would “prefer” Hamas to fire their rockets. Let’s stop playing the Israeli propaganda game for them, shall we?

  • Geoffrey Payne 30th Jul '14 - 1:25pm

    I think that this is to do with trying to break the status quo.
    As things are, there is a blockade of Palestinian Territories and illegal settlement building in the West Bank. And nothing is being done about it.
    The Palestinian population is growing rapidly, living conditions are unbearable, and Israel whilst enforcing this can continue to ignore the consequences and not do anything about it.
    What Hamas is now trying probably will not work, which is to try and win international from powerful nations to support their cause and change things. They do not have any alternative course of action available to them.

  • What Malcolm Todd said….

    Too many “Friends of” groups are actually bordering on apologists for their own chosen side. To be a true friend you have to point out flaws and wrongdoing.

    Both Israel and Hamas are hugely at fault. Hamas, by firing simple rockets towards inhabited areas are deliberately targeting civilians and must have known prior to firing the rockets that the reaction would likely lead to significant civilian casualties on their own side. Israel, by reacting as they do, with their advanced weaponry targeted towards such a densely populated area must have known that the majority of casualties would be civilian (even if every target were legitimate).

    There is no justification for either side.

  • Richard Dean 30th Jul '14 - 1:38pm

    Two wrongs don’t make a right.

  • Peter Hayes 30th Jul '14 - 1:50pm

    Glenn, compare and contrast with the IRA bombings. I do not remember wholesale destruction of Catholic areas. Yes there was Bloody Sunday but the UK was in general not proportionate but more than restrained.

  • Malcolm Todd 30th Jul '14 - 1:53pm

    Glenn

    The idea that “we” would react with “the full force [of] our navies, air forces, ground troupes and armoured divisions” to the sort of threat posed by Hamas has, I think, been amply disproved by our reaction to the sustained IRA campaign of the 1970s and 1980s, and indeed the bombing of the London Underground in 2005. Whatever you think of the reaction of the British state to terrorism (and many would consider that it has overreacted and continues to overreact) you can’t possibly deny that it amounts to what in modern Israeli politics would be considered as doing absolutely nothing.

    If you mean to compare the reaction of the US to the 9/11 event — well, then you’d have a point. Do you think it’s a comparison that will have much traction amongst Liberal Democrats?

  • David Allen 30th Jul '14 - 4:14pm

    Malcolm Todd,

    I look at your admirably rational and balanced series of propositions, and I have to dig deep to think what it is that I don’t like about them.

    I suppose it is that they are so beautifully even-handed as to become a nullity. Thus you describe the behaviour of each side as “monstrous”. Effectively therefore, you make no direction to either side. You don’t tell side X that it is high time they made more concessions. You don’t tell side X that it is high time their opponents made more concessions.

    Meanwhile, the West puts most of its pressure onto Hamas to make the concessions. Hamas know that they can’t afford to listen (it was through being more militant than Fatah that they themselves took over from Fatah, if they went soft then someone else would take over from them). So nothing changes.

    If Lib Dems want to influence events, they will take a stronger line in opposing Cameron’s one-sided support for Israel. Even-handedness won’t do enough.

  • peter Haye and Malcolm Todd
    the IRA were small cell terrorist groups who planted bombs and executed people. They did not fire thousands of rockets at mainland England every year. Israel has fact dealt with bomb plots and small cell terrorist groups in much the way we did. There is no analogy between what Hamas is doing and what the IRA did.. So ask you self how would Britain recast if a hostile region lobbed rockets at us every day? Not planting bombs or meeting in basements, but set up a barrage of rocket launches and fire ten thousand missiles in the last few years?

    The bottom line is that we, the Americans and the French bombarded cities all over the middle east over a handful of terrorist threats and to remove governments we don’t like. So in fact we know exactly how we behave because we have done it in the last ten years repeatedly at the costs of hundreds of thousands of civilian casualties with much less provocation. The lib Dems wanted to do the same in Syria, supported actions in Libya and the result is ISIS. So please spare me the moral superiorly.

  • PS,
    I’d also like to point out that Palestine is not part of Israel whereas Northern Island is part of Britain. So the analogy with Hamas an the IRA is simply wrong. It would be more like a Argentina lobbing rockets at mainland Britain or America.

  • David, who cares where Israel would prefer Hamas to shoot at them from. The question is why Hamas prefer to shoot from next door to schools and hospitals if not to maximise Palestinian civilian casualties for the world news.

    You suggest there is nowhere else, but clearly there is.

  • Lib Dem Candidate 30th Jul '14 - 9:33pm

    Well said, Steve Coltman (not least for your brevity). Some similar points in this article in Foreign Affairs: http://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/141647/ariel-ilan-roth/how-hamas-won

  • The Hama “game plan” as you call it is that they want to live normal lives – with dignity – not under seige. It is not a game to them. It is Hamas and their families who are being targetted and killed. The Israelis have occupied their land for 60 years. 80% of Gazans are refugees from Israel, from when their villages were taken over and they were evicted. Look up Deir Yassin and the Lydda death march.

    As for other Arab countries accepting the State of Israel – look up Arab Peace Plan. That’s on offer and there for the taking. But the israelis don’t want peace – because the outside world doesn’t impose any costs on their occupation.

  • Another day. Another two major atrocities by Israel amongst the many daily atrocities that simply appear in the statistics.

    The war crimes will continue as long as those in the West continue making polite statements about both sides being as bad as each other whilst refusing to countenance sanctions against Israel.

  • David Allen.
    HAMAS could
    1. Fire and store all missiles plus locate all military installations, at a distance of at least 500m from any habitation.
    2. Instead of building tunnels under Israel , build bomb shelters for all homes.
    3. Install blast curtains in all homes.
    4. Allow people to leave their homes.
    5. Use tunnels to attack military targets in Israel but not civilian ones.

    Some of the HAMAS rockets either misfire or fall on Gaza. This is a reason why HAMAS should fire rockets at least 500m if not 1000m away from habitation. Items 1-5 would greatly reduce civilian deaths. UNWRA have found rockets at 3 schools . I do not think many readers of this blog would be happy if the government stored weapons near schools, hospitals, homes and churches.

    How does Israel destroy rockets when they are fired from near habitation? If Israel does nothing, then HAMAS has used civilians to shield rockets. Would people please provide answers. It would appear HAMAS hates Israelis more than they love their people.

    When comparing with N Ireland, the PIRA only fired bullets into N Ireland at British soldiers; not rockets or mortars. PIRA did lay in wait in S Ireland and set off bombs killing British troops in N Ireland. The Eire government allowed the PIRA to train but how much support they gave is questionable.

  • Hamas game plan is very simple – to end Israels brutal and racist occupation which the Israeli lobby are keen to maintain.

  • The blockade of Gaza by Israel has not been in the news for some time, but now with the Israeli bombing and shelling of Gaza plus their sending their troops back the blockade of Gaza is in the news again. So that might be what HAMAS want – they may want world opinion to put pressure on Israel to remove their blockade.

    As the world does not recognise Gaza as an independent country is it Israel’s responsibility under the Hague Convention to ensure the safety of the population there?

    I agree with most of Malcolm Todd’s points for recognition.

    If someone believes that the state of Israel as it is currently constituted is morally wrong and wishes for there to be a one state solution as put forward by the British in 1938 with the current population of Israel to have the right to stay in the new country I don’t think this implies that they wish the state of Israel to exist.

    For as long as I can remember the Israelis have been fighting Palestinian terrorists but they have made no gains in the hearts and minds area. Doesn’t anti-terrorist theory state that victory against a terrorist organisation is unlikely to be achieved with military means alone; that the hearts and minds of the supporting population have to be won over to remove most of the support for the terrorists?

    @ Glenn
    I disagree. If a terrorist group was firing on the UK from a foreign country we would expect the police of that foreign country to bring the terrorists to justice as we expected the Republic of Ireland to do in the past. We didn’t bomb their cities or invade their country. If the foreign country was supporting terrorists then I hope we would impose economic sanctions and maybe invade to remove the supporting government and bring the terrorists to justice.

    @ David Allen
    I agree. If I was a Palestinian I would want to start drawing the frontiers of the two states not with the pre-1967 war borders, not with the 1948 UN mandate borders but with borders of plan B of the Woodhead Commission of 1938. For the Palestinians to start at the 1967 borders is for them to have already made huge concessions. If the world really had wanted a two state solution they would have forced Israel to accept the Palestinian position of 2000 on the Clinton peace proposals. I think that opportunity has now passed and so I am not convinced there can ever be a two states solution any time in the foreseeable future.

  • Charlie
    I suggest you google IRA mortar and IRA rocket.

    Your other ideas

    1. “Fire and store all missiles plus locate all military installations, at a distance of at least 500m from any habitation.”

    If you take look at the size of Gaza and you’ll see how ridiculous that is.

    2. “Instead of building tunnels under Israel , build bomb shelters for all homes.”

    Building a few tunnels isn’t remotely of the same scale that building bomb shelters for all homes would be.

    3. “Install blast curtains in all homes.”

    Haven’t you seen how buildings are totally destroyed by Israeli bombs? Also one of items the Israelis don’t allow into Gaza is blast curtains.

    4. “Allow people to leave their homes.”

    A piece of nonsense Israel propoganda. Hamas aren’t stopping anyone leaving their homes.

    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/israelgaza-conflict-the-myth-of-hamass-human-shield-9619810.html

    5. “Use tunnels to attack military targets in Israel but not civilian ones.”

    They’ve been using tunnels to defend themselves against the Israeli incursion into Gaza. All the Israeli dead from Hamas tunnels have been soldiers. Every single one.

    The answer to less civilian casualties if for Israel to stop dropping bombs and shelling schools, markets, electricity infrastructure and so on. The blame for the hundreds of civilians they are killing rests with they who fire the weapons. Just the Palestinian resistance is responsible for the three civilians they have killed with their rockets.

  • @Charlie
    “It would appear HAMAS hates Israelis more than they love their people.”

    The reason they hate Israelis is precisely because they love their children – you know, the ones being blown apart by Israeli shells; the ones denied any kind of future because Israel has destroyed all the infrastructure in their Country and stolen their land and natural resources.

  • If anyone wants to donate to Gaza

    The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees

    http://www.unrwa.org/donate

    Palestine Red Crescent

    http://www.palestinercs.org/en/donate.php

  • Jenny Barnes 31st Jul '14 - 8:29am

    Hamas rockets have resulted in 3 Israeli civilians killed, and a brief closure of Tel Aviv airport.
    The IDF reaction has resulted in 50+ Israeli soldiers killed, and 1300+ Palestinians, most of them civilians. The reaction has caused more deaths on the Israeli side than Hamas “attack”. It’s clearly not a good idea.

  • David Foster 31st Jul '14 - 8:44am

    Didn’t the Arab nations propose precisely what you are asking for but the Israelivgovernment rejected the Saudi peace plan years ago

  • Glenn30th Jul ’14 – 4:43pm

    Glenn30th Jul ’14 – 4:43pm
    peter Haye and Malcolm Todd
    the IRA were small cell terrorist groups who planted bombs and executed people. They did not fire thousands of rockets at mainland England every year. Israel has fact dealt with bomb plots and small cell terrorist groups in much the way we did. There is no analogy between what Hamas is doing and what the IRA did.. So ask you self how would Britain recast if a hostile region lobbed rockets at us every day? Not planting bombs or meeting in basements, but set up a barrage of rocket launches and fire ten thousand missiles in the last few years?

    Perhaps! However, these “small cell terrorist groups” killed more British soldiers and civilians than have all the Hamas rockets…Proportional response???/

    Ilistened to Hammond refusing to even consider that Israel’s response was disproportional..Today an Israeli ‘legal advisor’ stated that civilian casualties, or ‘collateral damage’ as she put it was acceptable if it also killed Hamas fighters…..

    I’m so sickened by Israel’s actions that I’ve started to consider my shopping/banking habits so as to avoid any involvement with that state!

  • The Israeli government says their objective is to weaken Hamas and protect their people. It is as plain as the nose on your face that their belligerence is strengthening Hamas and weakening any Palestinians who might argue for moderation towards Israel. Hamas say they are resisting Israeli domination and expansionism on behalf of their people. It is as plain as the nose on your face that they are goading Israel into more domination and expansionism by maintaining their attacks. We are in the world of the self-fulfilling prophecy, just as we in these islands were during the 30 years of the Northern Ireland “troubles”. Those in this thread who play down the appalling story of those years did not as I did directly experience continuous violence day and night with bullets, bombs, mortars and even some ground to air missiles. The British forces made some major errors but successive British governments pursued the objective of attempting to isolate the terrorists (made all the more difficult by facing two sets of violent extremists) and give opportunities for the many people who wanted peace to organise across traditional divides. Eventually the reward came and we can only hope it will last.

    Because they are in much the stronger position, bolstered as they are by enormous financial support, particularly from the USA, it seems reasonable to expect the Israeli side to make the main running in a fundamental reappraisal of the totally counter-productive zero-sum approach pursued for so many years but surely to goodness there must be people in authority on both sides who have the sense and the courage to reach out towards some sort of rapprochement.

  • Matthew Huntbach 31st Jul '14 - 10:24am

    David Allen

    Secondly, Matthew above talks of the Palestinian stance as “obviously just about macho pride”. Yes, but is this the macho pride of a Mike Tyson, proud to dominate? Or is it the macho pride of a Solomon Northup, desperate to maintain his pride in the face of the degradations of slavery, knowing that if his pride and self-respect are taken from him, he will lose heart, succumb, and die?

    Whatever, I don’t care. It does not gain them my sympathy, it loses them it. And I think anyone who wants to be REAL friends of Gaza should say the same. So long as people try to make excuses for it, say it is justifiable under the circumstances, say it is brave “resistance”, Hamas will keep lobbing the rockets in this pointless macho way, and the Israwlis will keep responding in their utterly horrible disproportionate way. When I see Gazan waving around dead bodies, and it is a FACT that those bodies would be living people if it were not for those pointless rockets, I don’t think “Oh dear, how sorry I am for those Gazans”, I think “What horrible people they are that they should lob those rockets knowing it will lead to this”.

    Gazans and the Palestinians in general have been treated very badly by the Israelis. The Israelis have lost the sense of decency that at least some of them used to have. As I’ve said, their behaviour now is as if we in the UK had responded to IRA violence by bombing flat West Belfast, Crossmaglen, etc. So don’t think just because I call the Gazans horrible I have any sympathy with Israel. However, the pointless lobbing of bombs from Gaza is the one thing which stops me from siding completely with them in their argument. So much of the horrible way they have been treated has been provoked by this pointless lobbing. As said in my original article, it doesn’t gain them anything and if this mentality continues it can only lead to the complete destruction of one side, which in the short term is Gaza. I suspect those behind it WANT that, in the hope that the horror of that destruction will lead the whole Arab world to launch violence at Israel, so the long-term is the destruction of Israel.

    Any of us who want neither of these should stop making any sort of excuse for the violence of either side. We should make it absolutely clear that we won’t respond to their waving of dead bodies around so long as they continue with their violent actions. To BOTH sides it must be “tough, you have brought this on yourself, just go away and stop playing this ‘poor, poor us’ game”.

  • Jeremy,

    look at comment by Joe Otton and go onto Google Link.Alter image so scale bar on Google earth measures 500m. There are areas of green 500m across. The safety distance depends upon the amount of explosive used in HAMAS’ rockets and those used by the Israelis . If the HAMAS rockets carry 100kg and the Israeli rockets a similar amount, an explosion in an open area , where there are few or no buildings deflecting the blast waves , would probably do minimal damage at 300m, apart from breaking windows. It is also sensible to fire and store missiles away from homes because mistakes occur. Missiles can explode on ignition or prematurely and go off course. HAMAS could quite easily undertake experiments to assess what is the safe distance to fore missiles from buildings. They could set off charges of 50, 100, 150 , 200, 250, 500 Kg and measure blast damage in open ground and in built up areas. What they would probably find was the it was the structures on the higher floors which suffered most damage. They could also use the explosion to measure damage to buried structures and use the information to build bomb shelters.

    The destructive force of an explosion declines according to distance cubed. This is why to be most effective explosives need to be placed against a structure during demolition and some sort of directional mechanism introduced .

    If we look at V1 and V2 hits on London , the amount of explosive was about 1000Kg. The damage around the site of the explosion was often quite restricted . What often caused unexpected damage was the shock waves bouncing off buildings . After the PIRA bombs it was realised that many injuries and some deaths plus much damage was caused by glass fragments: hence blast curtains were installed in government buildings

    The mass of concrete used to line tunnels could be used to build bomb shelters. Nuclear bomb shelters have been built into many blocks of flats and houses in Austria and Switzerland.

    When a shell or bomb explodes at the ground surface it forms a 90 arc of fast moving gases , vertically upwards , little shock penetrates the ground. This is the reason B Wallis designed The Bouncing , 6T and 10T Earthquakes bombs.
    If HAMAS built bomb shelters at depths of 5m with a 1m thick reinforced concrete roof it would probably withstand a direct from any bomb weighing up to 1000Kg. The U – Boat and E – Boats pens on the N French coast were safe until B Wallis designed the 6T Earthquake Bombs. We have extensive know ledge of what is required to protect people from shellfire after WW1.

    HAMAS have used steel and concrete to construct rockets and tunnels , they could have used it to make bomb shelters.
    UNWRA have handed back to HAMAS three stockpiles of rockets they have found at schools.

  • Malcolm Todd 31st Jul '14 - 11:34am

    Glenn
    According to Wikipedia, “the Provisional IRA was responsible for the deaths of 1,824 people during the Troubles up to 2001”, including over 600 civilians.

    Comparing attacks from Gaza with attacks from a totally separate country like Argentina, meanwhile, can hardly be taken seriously. Of course, if the Argentinians had succeeded in holding onto the Falklands/Malvinas in 1982, and unhappy British residents of the Falklands had responded (eventually) by lobbing rockets at the Argentine coast, then that might have been relevant…

    David Allen
    I reject your accusation of even-handedness. I regard the actions of the Israeli government as far worse than those of Hamas, even if it is only because they are capable of far worse. (The actions of Arab regimes in the region, however, are on the whole just as bad as anything Israel has done. But Palestinians are even less responsible for them than they are for the extremes of Hamas, which is why the attempts of the Charlies of this world to bring them into the argument are so contemptible.) My point was not to say “they’re as bad as each other”, but to point out that there is wrong being done and said on both sides of the argument and a willingness to overlook the wrongs on one’s favoured side.

    In any case, what good exactly is served by a judicious weighing of right and wrong and a definitive judgement on who is mostly or almost or entirely to blame? So what? Let God worry about how to apportion blame. The question is, is there anything that can be done to reduce and one day even bring to an end this sickening, vicious, generation-destroying violence? Like Matthew, I fear the simple answer is “no”, but I salute those who have the nerve and the patience who keep on trying. I suggest, however, that there is even less than little chance of success so long as we seek to pin the blame on one side or the other, or refuse to acknowledge the wrong done even by the more wronged-against. I understand why so many of those at the very sharp end of survival in Israel/Palestine are wedded to a single-blame, single-truth narrative. There is no good excuse for those of us at a distance from it to do the same.

  • Malcolm Todd 31st Jul '14 - 11:50am

    Charlie
    “How does Israel destroy rockets when they are fired from near habitation? If Israel does nothing, then HAMAS has used civilians to shield rockets. Would people please provide answers. ”

    How about they develop a missile defence system that effectively protects their citizens against these rocket attacks, rendering them largely ineffective, and work on developing the economy and infrastructure of Gaza so that people there can think of better things to do with their time than fight? I believe it’s been working fairly well in the West Bank of late — at least until Israel decided that the PLA were going rogue by trying to bring Hamas into the political process without demanding their unconditional surrender first.

    The thing about using civilians or hostages as human shields is this: it’s a bad thing to do. Civilised people don’t do it, of course. Civilised people also don’t respond to it by saying, “Oh well, it’s not my fault you decided to do that” and shooting through the “shields” anyway. That’s why police forces have hostage negotiators. Because shrugging and going in guns blazing to deal with the hostage-takers and treating the hostages — the “human shields” — as collateral damage isn’t acceptable.

  • Anyway, to the various people responding to my most thank you for your time, but we’ll have to agree to disagree, I will only add that hAMAS is part of the Palestine’s government so again the analogy with the IRA is simply wrong. The point is HAMAS is not really a terrorist group. But hey I have some Jewish ancestry as well as some Romany ancestry and I find it very difficult to see why Israel should put up with attacks by a bunch of people who just want to kill Jews and say so in there manifesto and on their children’s TV programs,

  • Malcom Todd
    What you are saying is that Israel should
    1. Rely on “Iron Dome ” only and ignore the stress firing rockets at Israel causes. If the rockets land they are just as capable of killing Arabs as well as Jews.
    2. Ignore the tunnels which have been constructed into Israel , including those which exit underneath settlements.
    3. Rely on Israel asking HAMAS to stop firing missiles.

    Obviously you have the solution to the problem so I suggest you let every one know it.

    The actions of Arab Regimes and the way they interact with The Palestinians is part of the complexity of the situation. Regimes such as Ghadafi’s and Baathist Syria supporting the more extremist Palestinians and attempts to overthrow the Jordanian Monarchy, made it more difficult for Arafat to negotiate. Arafat and the Fatah have always had the problem that any agreement with Israel would result in them being accused of being traitors- similar to the situation Michael Collins found himself in the 1920s. It was Sadat’s negotiation of a Peace Treaty with Israel which was major reason why he was Murdered by the Muslim Brotherhood.Many in Egypt , including the Armed Forces are even more sever and angry with HAMAS than Israel.

    If the Palestinians had been able to unite Syria, Jordan,Egypt and Saudi Arabia and the GCC countries behind them and Arafat had agreed to the 2000 Camp David Accord under Clinton , they would be in a much stronger position today.

  • nvelope2003 31st Jul '14 - 3:05pm

    The Palestinian Arabs had their land taken in 1948 and despite UN resolutions and International law Israel continues to occupy land allocated to a Palestinian state and continues to both permit and build illegal Jewish settlements on the occupied Territories. How many people would go to live there with all the problems that exist if it were not for the subsidies given to the illegal settlers and what Act of the Knesset, other Statutory Instrument or decree provides the money for these illegal activities.

    As long as these things continue and Israel is allowed to flout international law there will never be peace in Palestine and Arab terrorist will continue to operate with the tacit consent of the people. Of course they should not use violence but I guess you could say the same about the Resistance Movements in Occupied countries throughout the history of the World. As someone said – what would you do ?

  • David Allen 31st Jul '14 - 3:34pm

    Joe Otten

    “The question is why Hamas prefer to shoot from next door to schools and hospitals if not to maximise Palestinian civilian casualties for the world news.”

    There is a simple answer to those who believe Hamas is cynically maximising casualties amongst the Palestinian population for their own base poitical ends. It is – If so, why does the Palestinian population put up with it?

    Hamas won an election. They could not possibly afford to alienate their own people. Do we hear any voices from Palestinian civilians protesting that Hamas is culpable for civilian deaths? Do we even hear voices from the Palestinian side putting the more moderate argument that Hamas should stop firing the rockets and sue for peace? We do not.

    Joe, why, in your opinion, is this the case?

    In my opinion, it is because the Gazan Palestinians know that they have their backs to the wall, and they believe – virtually all of them, not just Hamas – that they have no option but to fight. They know that there are risks, but they cannot possibly believe for one minute that Hamas are deliberately sacrificing their own lives. If they believed that, then they would turn against Hamas and turn to others to organise their resistance to Israel.

  • David Allen 31st Jul '14 - 3:44pm

    Matthew Huntbach,

    “David Allen

    ‘Secondly, Matthew above talks of the Palestinian stance as “obviously just about macho pride”. Yes, but is this the macho pride of a Mike Tyson, proud to dominate? Or is it the macho pride of a Solomon Northup, desperate to maintain his pride in the face of the degradations of slavery, knowing that if his pride and self-respect are taken from him, he will lose heart, succumb, and die?’

    Whatever, I don’t care. It does not gain them my sympathy, it loses them it.”

    Sorry Matthew, “I don’t care” won’t do. My argument is that if Gaza gave up the resistance, they would be lost, demoralised, defeated, done for. They would have lost the will to live. Many would just stop working, stay in bed, or seek to surrender, or even walk in front of tanks. Resistance, and the hope that one day they will not be worse than slaves, is all that keeps them alive.

    Now, you may say that you think I am factually wrong, or you may wish to suggest a different way forward, but you can’t contribute to debate by just saying that you don’t care.

  • Simon McGrath 31st Jul '14 - 4:12pm

    David

    Have you seen Amnesty’s comments on Hamas : “Meanwhile some 40 other prisoners are under sentence of death in Gaza, where torture and other ill-treatment of detainees in the custody of Hamas security agencies are widespread and systematic”
    http://www.amnesty.org.uk/press-releases/gaza-hamas-threat-publicly-execute-prisoners-after-eid-deeply-disturbing

  • Steve Coltman 31st Jul '14 - 4:18pm

    It was not my intention to imply that HAMAS would cynically site its rocket-launchers next to a school in the hope that the Israelis would bomb that particular school. Rather my point was that the only sort of war HAMAS can fight, ‘War among the People’, inevitably exposes the civilian population to heavy casualties. If HAMAS sited its rockets in open countryside they would quickly be destroyed, located by drones, attacked by air strikes, and subject to artillery strikes once radars have determined the rocket’s launch position.
    My other point was political – HAMAS cannot win militarily but I suspect they are winning politically. I think Israel has over-played it’s hand and the damage it is doing in Gaza is further damaging it’s standing on the world stage. They are making for themselves even more enemies. That, for HAMAS, is a kind of victory.

  • Peter Hayes 31st Jul '14 - 5:55pm

    Joe I lived in Manchester and my parents lived near Warrington. The local view was not 100s of eyes for one unlike Israel currently does.

  • nvelope2003 1st Aug '14 - 9:36am

    The people who run Israel, like those who run Britain, the USA and every other country are not really interested in what the world thinks about their actions in the final analysis. They do what they have to do to protect what they consider important, namely the state and its boundaries as at present constituted, whether lawfully or not. That is what we did between 1939 and 1945 when the allies mercilessly bombed innocent German and Japanese civilians and the Governments of those countries did equally wicked things. Israel will do whatever they believe is necessary to build their nation in what they consider to be the promised land and will say whatever they think is desirable to achieve that goal. Mr Putin is doing the same in Eastern Ukraine where the ordinary people are being slaughtered to achieve his ambition of rebuilding the Russian Empire or USSR which was built up by equally cruel and wicked means.
    That is the real world. The US has done the same when its very wide interests (making money for its businesses) were threatened but now it has its own fuel supplies it is not so bothered about the Middle East except in regard to Israel where it fears to lose the Jewish vote if it does not support that state’s ambitions.

  • Matthew Huntbach 1st Aug '14 - 9:43am

    David Allen

    Sorry Matthew, “I don’t care” won’t do. My argument is that if Gaza gave up the resistance, they would be lost, demoralised, defeated, done for. They would have lost the will to live.

    Well, I believe there are ways to protest about injustice other than lobbing rockets. You, David, clearly do not. I am disgusted at the attitude you display here.

  • Matthew Huntbach 1st Aug '14 - 9:46am

    Kerry Hutchinson

    What is an occupied people forced off land and out of houses they had owned since Ottoman times supposed to do? Submit like lambs to the continuing slaughter?

    Take a lesson about how to protest about injustice from Mahatma Gandhi?

  • Matthew Huntbach 1st Aug '14 - 10:18am

    David Allen

    Hamas won an election. They could not possibly afford to alienate their own people. Do we hear any voices from Palestinian civilians protesting that Hamas is culpable for civilian deaths? Do we even hear voices from the Palestinian side putting the more moderate argument that Hamas should stop firing the rockets and sue for peace?

    The fate of such people would quite likely be to be condemned as traitors to the cause and their lives would be at risk. Quite possibly they would be accused of collaboration with the Israelis in calling for the rejection of violence, and killed for that. So if there are Palestinians who think that way, it is hardly surprising that we don’t hear their voices.

    This is what we generally see when protestors turn to violence to make their point. The use of violence leads to a fundamentally illiberal mindset which cannot be escaped from. The macho culture in which violent thoughts are whipped up, with all this imagery of brave soldiers and martyrs, is used to drive out moderate opinions. We know that Hamas is very much about exerting cultural domination and pushing its pro-violence rhetoric to the point where most people who live under it can’t even think in any other way.

    Violence should ALWAYS only be used in actual self-defence, and the random lobbing of rockets from Gaza is not self-defence. Whatever the cause, violence should never, ever, be used like that. The use of violence in this way is a poison. the weasel words defending it as some sort of brave resistance are all part of the whipping it up and poisoning of minds.

    Where violence is successful and the side that used it wins, the poisoning of minds and the illiberal attitude it leads to remains. That is why revolutions which use it so often, in fact in the vast majority of cases, result in regimes that are worse than those they deposed.

    I mention the case of Northern Ireland because the people who used terrorist violence there are my co-religionists, although unlike Hamas they never claimed that their violence was motivated by their religion, in fact SF/IRA always meticulously never mentioned religion, it just happened to be the case that 99% of their supporters were Catholics. I feel that as they are my co-religionists and are sometimes (wrongly) seen as the “Catholic” side I have a particular duty to denounce them, and I do. One can very much see how the whipping up of feelings using macho rhetoric and the argument that terrorism was brave resistance was used to drive out the more moderate groups that once obtained the majority of Catholic support in Northern Ireland, and those who continued to put the case for moderation and opposition to violence from the position of living in those places where the pro-violence people dominated often were literally driven from their homes. Now those who used and defended violence, and those on the other who though not giving actual support to violence used abusive illiberal rhetoric to force out the moderates, sit grinning at the top, presiding over exactly the same power-sharing agreement which they rejected several decades earlier, in the meanwhile having deepened the hatred and division in their society.

    The cause of moderation is the bravest cause, and those who give their lives to that cause, who oppose violence even at that risk, who stand against the crowds being whipped up to support violence, are the true martyrs. Given that we solemnly read a story about that every year on “Good Friday”, I would have thought anyone who is truly my co-religionist would get that point.

  • David Allen

    HAMAS used violence to take over Gaza from Fatah: 118 killed , 500 wounded. HAMAS have used violence against Fatah supporters. I suggest you speak in Fatah supporters in Gaza to see how free and fair were the elections.

    It is the violence from groups such as HAMAS and other Palestinian Groups which has made it impossible for Arafat/ Fatah/PLO to negotiate peace treaties with Israel: hence failure of 2000 Camp David Talks under Clinton.

    Various Arab Governments such as Syria, Algeria and Libya hosted Palestinian splinter groups which pursued more violent policies than Fatah/PLO which in effect helped Israel. Libya in particular was used groups Palestinian splinter groups against Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia which only weakened Fatah/PLO. HAMAS is connected with the Muslim Brotherhood and obtains support from Iran which will weaken the support from Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia . The Head of Saudi Intelligence has criticised HAMAS for causing suffering.

  • Green Voter 1st Aug '14 - 1:22pm

    The camp david talks failed because of the Israeli position

  • Steve Coltman 1st Aug '14 - 2:41pm

    Geoff Crocker: Any student of military history can point to any number of examples of political leaders continuing a war long after any hope of winning has gone, throwing away the lives of their citizens needlessly. HAMAS has started a military conflict it stands no chance of winning, at least, not in a military sense. So, it is quite reasonable for me to wonder what they hope to gain from this.
    What would I do in their position? It’s a meaningless question because if I had been born and brought up in Palestine, my opinions and beliefs would have been shaped by different events and experiences, I would not be the same person I am now. I would like to think that, if it were in my power, I would recognise reality and try and get the best deal I could for the people of Gaza, to get the blockade lifted, to win back the right to travel freely, to trade freely, to live some kind of normal life, and that would involve recognising the State of Israel as a fact (however unwelcome).

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