Imagine, if you will, tens of thousands of Houthi rebels amassed on the border of Saudi Arabia and trying to cross over from Yemen. What would be the Saudi response? Better yet, consider the Kurdish population of northern Iraq marching on the Turkish border. Do you think President Erdogan would be greeting them with sweets and flowers?
In both cases, the ensuing firepower would be devastating and the carnage incomprehensible. It would not be the 18 dead at Israel’s fence with Gaza as thousands of Palestinians rioted, including some who attempted to break through Israel’s border.
So, why should Israel have any less right to defend its people from those who have sworn to destroy it? Hamas is a terrorist organization. By luring civilians, peppered with an assortment of militants burning tires, throwing petrol bombs and shooting assault weapons, it has cynically organized the march on Israel’s border to destroy the fence that separates Israel from Gaza.
Hamas traffics in the death of civilians, preferably women and children, sometimes real, sometimes staged, always to pull the heart strings of Westerners. Of the 16 initially killed, ten were identified as members of Hamas’ military wing. At a location some distance from the main riots, two Hamas operatives attacked an IDF position with assault rifles.
At the border, Hamas used a tactic known as directed resistance. The tactic grew out of the American protest movements of the ‘60s. As American law enforcement became more sophisticated, they were able to remove non-violent demonstrators without the violence that would provide the visuals that make police violence part of the demonstrators’ narrative. Non-violence evolved into directed resistance.
The idea behind directed resistance was to have the demonstrators escalate their behavior, even to the point of violence, to provoke a violent reaction from law enforcement.
It’s difficult to argue that the system is repressive when the police are carefully and systematically removing demonstrators from their limp positions. Non-violence loses its moral authority when the police are equally non-violent.
The anti-war and campus protest movements of the ‘60s used directed resistance effectively to transform issues about civil rights and the Vietnam War into issues of police brutality. The immediate and shocking visuals of police brutality often galvanized people to support a movement in a way that even the substantive issues could not.
At the Gaza border fence, the idea was to provoke the Israelis into a lethal response. At various points, the demonstrators tore through the border fence, only to be repelled by gunfire. At others, they threw rocks or firebombs.
A seven-year-old girl was sent to charge the fence. Hamas cynically sought the image of a dead child to manipulate public opinion. The Israelis safely returned her.
Still, Hamas was not to be deterred from sending both the guilty and the innocent into harm’s way to generate heart-wrenching visuals. All were expendable.
In an authoritarian movement such as Hamas, individuals are insignificant. They are simply props to be sacrificed for a larger purpose.
Lacking sufficient actual visuals, there is always the staging of casualties for the cameras, as when one Israeli rifle shot results in five simultaneous casualties or when an old picture of actress Katherine Heigl is depicted as a compassionate French nurse coming to Gaza to minister to the wounded Palestinians. Ms. Heigl portrays a doctor on Grey’s Anatomy, from which the Palestinians lifted a publicity picture. She is also not French.
Then there is the cynical manipulation of the UN, where the Organization of Islamic Cooperation can get enough votes to pass a resolution that the Israelis have forced the Sun to rise in the west and set in the east. The Arab states depicted the demonstrators as peaceful and the Israeli response as unnecessarily lethal as they sought a resolution condemning Israel. Of course, there is overwhelming evidence that the depiction is pure fiction. The US vetoed the resolution.
At the same time, the tactics of directed resistance and Pallywood’s staging of events are well known. Among knowledgeable observers, the entire demonstration is meaningless. No one expects the Israelis to permit 30,000 incited Palestinians to ravage through their country. The only function of the entire exercise was to momentarily deflect Palestinians from the day-to-day misery of their lives — misery that is the direct result of their occupation by the terrorist group Hamas.