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Hamas’ philosophy: All civilians, all children are tools of war

By By Douglas Murray, New York Post December 28, 2023.

Much of the world continues to condemn Israel for waging its war against Hamas.

As the casualty figures on both sides grow, Israel is facing the usual calls for a ceasefire.

A call which this country has rightly not joined in.

But as well as the Hamas supporters and antisemites who hurl accusations against Israel whatever it does, there are also well-meaning people who genuinely do not seem to understand the war that Israel is fighting.

Every time a home is destroyed in Gaza, or a civilian building is targeted much of the world seems bewildered and outraged.

In the process the worst libels against the Jewish state get repeated.

Claims that the Israelis deliberately target civilians.

Claims that Israel is committing war crimes, and more.

Take the case the other week when photos emerged of Hamas terrorists in Gaza stripped to their underwear by the IDF.

People who had no desire to speak up when Israeli women were raped suddenly seemed furious that suspected terrorists might have been stripped down to their underwear.

Of course these online, armchair warriors seem to presume that they themselves are experts in counter-terror techniques.

They seem to assume that there either are no Hamas militants in the Gaza, or that no member of Hamas would ever wear a suicide bomb under their clothes.

Which is the sort of thing that means that IDF soldiers have to get them to strip down.

But worse is when people make claims that the IDF somehow deliberately target civilians.

Even children.

Hamas war decorations

Earlier this week The Post published a story about Hamas hiding explosives in toy boxes.

That is absolutely true and the tip of the iceberg.

To get a better sense of what the IDF is actually facing on the ground in Gaza I spoke this week with a man I can only identify as “Major Y.”

He is an American who went to Israel to fight in the immediate aftermath of October 7th.

He has been fighting in Gaza constantly since then in a special forces unit.

These are some of the things he told me about his experiences there.

The first thing that the outside world does not seem to know is that Hamas routinely uses civilian houses as weapon stores.

This is a complete flouting of the laws of war, including the Geneva conventions which mandate that armies must not use civilian sites for military use.

Major Y and other people on the ground I have spoken with say that they estimate about one in every two or three homes in Gaza they go into has military weaponry, including AK47s, grenades and rocket launchers.

And they routinely find entrances to Hamas’s terror tunnels inside civilian houses.

And not just anywhere, but most often in the children’s bedrooms and even under cots.

Indeed one member of the IDF I spoke with this week says that this is such a pattern that when they search a house they now go straight to the children’s bedrooms to uncover weapons caches and entrances to the tunnels.

They recently found an RPG underneath a baby’s crib.

Furthermore, Major Y says that every single mosque they go into has a Hamas weapons store.

As has every UN school that they go into. Again this violates every rule of war.

Hamas use places of worship — while pretending to be such “devout” Muslims — because they know the Israelis will not target their places of worship.

They use schools as arms dumps because they know that if Israel targets an empty school the world will go berserk.

It is a cynical tactic, that of course puts at risk the very Palestinians who Hamas pretend to be representing.

According to the Major, “every school and kindergarten we go into we find guns in the basement. In each one we found more than ten AK47s, machine guns and grenades.”

And that’s when Hamas terrorists are not there.

On the ground, amid the intense fighting in the south of Gaza, the major tells me the sort of things he has encountered.

On one occasion recently his unit spotted an old lady in a wheelchair alone on a street corner in the south of Gaza.

They approached the elderly lady “who looked like my grandmother” according to the major.

And as they approached her they were suddenly fired on by a Hamas terrorist.

He had placed himself under her wheelchair in order to fire on the Israeli soldiers.

This is the Hamas that pretends to care for Palestinians but would even use an elderly disabled Palestinian woman as a human shield.

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On another occasion recently the major says that his unit was beside an UNWRA school.

The soldiers saw a 13-year old boy running with a bag near one of the schools.

He put it down and ran away.

A few minutes later it detonated, badly wounding one of the Israeli soldiers nearby.

When people ask how Israel could treat even some children as potential terrorists, this is why.

As the major said, Hamas didn’t think for a moment “about the Palestinian civilians” who were nearby when the bomb went off.

I ask about the claims that Israeli troops have to treat even people coming towards them with white flags with suspicion.

I have seen this myself in the Gaza — where the IDF ask people to step forward very slowly even when are waving white flags.

The major says that on many occasions in recent weeks he has seen Hamas use precisely these people to carry out attacks.

Recently he says “a group of old women and old men” came out of a building waving a white flag.

Then someone came out from within their ranks and started shooting at the soldiers.

Because of the civilians the Israelis did not shoot back at the terrorist.

In other words, the Israelis expressed more care for the Palestinian civilians than this Palestinian terrorist. Situations like this happen “every day” says the major.

Add to this the rockets and grenades they routinely uncover in UNWRA and other UN bags.

And the tunnel entrances and weapons stores are everywhere.

One tunnel entrance was just found in a school’s playing fields.

This, then, is the Hamas way of war.

And the Israeli way of war.

One side uses civilians as human shields.

The other tries to locate terrorists.

So how strange it is that so many Americans — especially young Americans — condemn the Israelis.

It is Hamas that started this.

And Hamas that is the real enemy not just of Israel but of the Palestinian people.

Douglas Murray is a Senior Fellow at National Review Institute.