Student protestors should heed history


To the Editor:

To those students on Martha’s Vineyard who call Israel genocidal and accuse it of indiscriminate killing of so-called Palestinians, I would say the following: There is no modern comparison to Israel’s war against Hamas. This is not an ordinary battle. It is fighting a war involving organized, major urban battles. No military in modern history has faced more than 30,000 urban terrorists in more than seven cities using human shields and hiding in hundreds of miles of underground networks purposely built under civilian sites, while holding hundreds of hostages. Israel is fighting an embedded enemy in dense city terrain in an area barely twice the size of Philadelphia. Israel has taken more measures to avoid needless civilian harm than any other nation that has fought an urban war. It is a war of precision.

This includes dive-bombing, as well as gathering pre-strike intelligence on the presence of civilians from satellite imagery, scans of cell phone presence, and other observation techniques. Choice of munitions applying proportionality required by the laws of armed conflict, and weighing collateral damage viz. the choice of bomb used. Warning and evacuation of urban areas before the full combined air and ground attack commences, even though this provides Hamas the military advantage to prepare for the attack. Calling and texting ahead of an air strike, and where they drop small munitions on the roof of a building, notifying everyone to evacuate the building before a strike. Warnings, as well as time for civilians to evacuate multiple cities in Gaza before starting the main air-ground attack of urban areas. 

All of this is to do more pinpoint targeting to avoid civilian deaths. It doesn’t crush a peanut with a hammer.

Air-dropping flyers to give civilians instructions on when and how to evacuate, and showing safe corridors. Dropping over half a million pamphlets, and broadcasts over radio and through social media messages to provide instruction for civilians to leave combat areas. Millions of phone calls and texts to civilians in combat areas, to provide instructions on evacuations. Maps and urban warfare graphics to assist civilians with evacuations, and alerting them to where the IDF will be operating —- long pauses over multiple consecutive days of the war to allow civilians to leave active combat areas. Even now as I write this on May 7, as Israel enters Rafah for a ground assault, it is doing all the above.

Direct your concern at Hamas. Hamas spent decades and billions of dollars building tunnels under civilian homes and protected areas for the singular purpose of using Palestinian civilians as human shields. The only reason for civilian deaths in Gaza is Hamas. Also, as students ostensibly with an inquiring mind, please don’t jump at casualty numbers from Hamas or Al Jazeera. We have no way of knowing how many civilians have been killed, and how many combatants. For Israel, it has taken more care to prevent than any other army in history. I would also encourage you to research the history of Jews in the current Israel; the origin of Palestinians, and where they are from; and a history of the various empires occupying what is now Israel. Whether you go on to university or not, it is useful for you to thoroughly study Jewish persecution, anti-Semitism, and Israel’s history since 1948.


Andrew Engelman
Stuart, Fla.