PJ Media

Hamas Turns Schools into Battlegrounds—Israel Gets the Rap

It’s been somewhat quieter here these last few days in my town of Beersheva in southern Israel, with fewer rocket alarms. Hamas keeps getting pounded by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), and an Israeli official says that “Hamas’s rocket stockpiles have dwindled and Hamas has ‘only a few dozen’ rockets remaining with a range longer than 45 kilometers (28 miles).”

Another kind of noise, though, continues full-blast. Scanning the news, I read, “At least 19 die as Gaza school is shelled.” Those brutal Israelis—what have they done now? Further down the page, one finds:

“According to the IDF initial inquiry, it suggests that militants fired mortars at IDF soldiers from the vicinity of the UNRWA school in Jabalya,” a spokeswoman told the Financial Times. “The soldiers responded by firing toward the origins of the fire.”

That would make sense; mortars are lethal, and if someone was firing them at you, you would have to fire back. If the soldiers were those of any country in the world, their countrymen would want them to do just that, not to mention their parents, mates, children and so on.

The headline “At least 19 die as Gaza school is shelled” gives, of course, a different impression—some sort of deliberate targeting of a school, of all things. It is not the kind of wording Israel would want, but it is definitely the kind of wording Hamas wants, since it makes Israel look bad and serves Hamas’s cause.

But there’s another issue lurking here: what were “militants” doing “in the vicinity” of a school in the first place?

In fact, there has already been a similar incident earlier in this war. In that one 16 people were killed in the courtyard of an UNRWA school, but an IDF inquiry concluded that “a single errant mortar,” fired by IDF soldiers who were being bombarded by antitank missiles, “landed in the school courtyard, injuring no one.”

As for how the people were killed, the IDF spokesman said they “could have been caught in the crossfire and brought into the courtyard, perhaps for treatment, or may have been hit by rockets or mortars fired by the militants themselves.”

For these “militants,” rockets and UNRWA schools go together—to the point that even UNRWA is getting fed up with it.

UNRWA, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, is devoted to keeping descendants of Palestinian refugees in a permanent refugee status, so it’s hard to call this outfit pro-Palestinian. But it is definitely known to take the Palestinians’ side in disputes with Israel. So it’s notable that on Wednesday, when Hamas rockets were found stockpiled in an UNRWA school in Gaza for the third time since this war began, UNRWA spokesmen Chris Guinness

condemned those who put civilian lives at risk by placing the rockets in a school run by the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian refugees whose facilities are neutral places that are not involved in the fighting.

“Condemned those who…”—without, of course, mentioning Hamas.

Last week UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon—also not known as a partisan of Israel—said

he expresses his outrage and regret at the placing of weapons in a UN-administered school…. By doing so, those responsible are turning schools into potential military targets, and endangering the lives of innocent children, UN employees working in such facilities and anyone using the UN schools as shelter.

Fair enough, but Ban, too, could not get himself to utter that little word—Hamas.

What it boils down to is that, despite having existed for 66 years, the modern state of Israel cannot seem to convey the most basic facts about itself to much of the Western world. Those facts include that it is a democracy with—dare I say it—a life-affirming Jewish ethos, and takes extraordinary measures to avoid inflicting civilian casualties even though locked into conflicts with depraved terrorist organizations that use every possible strategy to get it to inflict them.

And in using those strategies Hamas and the other terrorist organizations have, of course, a lockstep ally in most of the Western media, which, even as it virtually ignores actual atrocities on a much vaster scale in Iraq and Syria, cannot get enough of transmitting “Israel kills children” images and messages to the world.

This even though, according to the values that media people profess, they should not like Hamas and should be much more inclined toward Israel. Here, for instance, is a report on Hamas “execut[ing] over 30 alleged collaborators with Israel in the past few days,” in some cases on the basis that they had “telephones with SIM cards from an Israeli cell phone provider.” Here’s a Hamas cleric saying on Friday that “our doctrine in fighting you [the Jews] is that we will totally exterminate you. We will not leave a single one of you alive….” And here are Hamas members brutally beating Palestinian civilians trying to leave their homes after an IDF warning.

No matter; nothing beats that “Jews slaughter babies” meme. Israel, in winning this war, will be scoring a big win for the West against terrorist barbarism. Much of the West doesn’t deserve it, but we’ll do it anyway.