One of Israel’s most reliable talking points in describing the dilemma it faces in dealing with terrorist attacks — whether from Gaza, Lebanon or the West Bank — is this: Terrorists have no regard for civilian life, neither Israeli nor of their own people, and the proof is their cynical strategic calculus. If Israeli civilians die from their attacks, great. And if Israel responds with force and Palestinian civilians die, also great. Either way, terrorists score a victory — tactical in the first case, politically in the second.
I have well-intentioned friends who doubt this could possibly be true. No one is that evil, they say. They ought to read this short dispatch from a hosptal in Gaza that appeared in today’s New York Times.
A girl who looked about 18 screamed as a surgeon removed shrapnel from her leg. An elderly man was soaked in blood. A baby a few weeks old and slightly wounded looked around helplessly. A man lay with parts of his brain coming out. His family wailed at his side.
“Don’t you see that these people are hurting?” the militant was asked.
“But I am from the people, too,” he said, his smile incandescent. “They lost their loved ones as martyrs. They should be happy. I want to be a martyr, too.”