Wednesday, July 30, 2014

How the Media Is Helping Hamas

by Bassam TawilJuly 27, 2014
"We know that Hamas uses human shields. But why would you report this when you are sitting in the middle of the Gaza Strip, surrounded by Hamas gunmen?" — Reporter covering the war, who asked not to be identified.

Besides the human shields story there is another item that the international media choose to ignore: the extrajudicial execution of Palestinian "collaborators" during the last two weeks. The executions were reportedly carried out in the most brutal manner. Hamas has also been shooting suspected "collaborators" in the legs to prevent them from moving around.

It is the media that is helping Hamas get away with war crimes.
Hamas and its Palestinian and Western propagandists continue to insist that the Islamist movement does not use civilians in the Gaza Strip as human shields during war. But the truth is that Hamas itself has admitted that it does use innocent civilians as human shields, to increase the number of casualties and defame Israel in the eyes of the international community.

This admission, however, has, of course, gone unnoticed by most Western journalists and analysts reporting on the war in the Gaza Strip. Many Western journalists in the Gaza Strip choose to ignore the fact that Hamas is forcing civilians to serve as human shields. They also seem to ignore the fact that senior Hamas officials and militiamen have found shelter among civilians and in hospitals, especially Gaza City's Shifa Hospital. Is it really a coincidence that Hamas spokesmen gave interviews to the Arab and Western media from the premises of Shifa Hospital? Why hasn't anyone even noted it as odd?

Of course, the Hamas spokesmen, to attract the attention of the media, pretend that they are visiting the wounded in the hospital, but in reality, these Hamas spokesmen have been staying inside the hospital, bearing in mind -- even certain -- that Israel would not target such a sensitive site.

What is disturbing is that foreign journalists did not bother (or dare) to ask any of the Hamas leaders and self-proclaimed spokesmen whether they were hiding inside the hospital, regardless of what the answer would doubtless be. They apparently did not even ask themselves this question. 

One foreign journalist explained that asking such a question would have "endangered my life." Another admitted over coffee that he and his colleagues were too scared to report news that would anger Hamas and other radical groups.

"We know that Hamas uses Palestinians as human shields," the reporter, who asked not to be identified, said. "But why would you report this when you are sitting in the middle of the Gaza Strip, surrounded by Hamas gunmen?"

On July 22, Hamas and Palestinian "resistance" groups issued a warning to residents of the Gaza Strip to remain indoors after 11pm. The warning, which was also ignored by most journalists, was published on several Hamas-affiliated web sites.

So here is Hamas, literally imposing a curfew on the residents of the Gaza Strip, in the hope that they will be killed or wounded by Israel. But this, as far as the international media is concerned, is a story that is obviously not worth reporting.

More evidence of Hamas's use of civilians as human shields surfaced on July 10. The Hamas-run Ministry of Interior published a statement on its Arabic web site asking residents not to heed Israeli calls to leave their homes so they would not be harmed by the IDF.

This warning, of course, did not appear on the ministry's English language website. It seems, unsurprisingly, that Hamas does not want the world to know its leaders, from luxury hotel suites in Qatar and elsewhere, are using civilians as human shields.

Although almost all the foreign journalists covering the conflict in the Gaza Strip have Arabic-speaking "fixers," none of these "fixers" deemed it necessary to alert their foreign colleagues to the Hamas warning. Some Western reporters who later learned about the warning preferred to look the other way. After all, who wants to get into trouble with Hamas, particularly when its leaders and fighters are extremely nervous and busy moving from one hiding place to another?

Besides the human shields story, there is another item that the international media also choose to ignore: the extrajudicial execution of Palestinian "collaborators" during the past two weeks.

Palestinian sources have confirmed that Hamas has executed at least 13 Palestinians on suspicion of "collaboration" with Israel. None of the suspects was brought to trial, and the executions were reportedly carried out in the most brutal manner, with torture that included severe beating and breaking arms and legs.

This photo from October 2013 shows a gallows constructed by Hamas in Gaza,
prepared for an execution. (Image source: Gaza Interior Ministry)

According to the sources, Hamas has also been shooting suspected "collaborators" in the legs to prevent them from moving around. Many others, including Fatah activists, have been placed under house arrest by Hamas.

This is not a story that Hamas wants the international media to report about. Not even one of the foreign journalists in the Gaza Strip mentioned the brutal killings in their dispatches. Maybe they feared they would lose "access" and be reassigned to Nowhereville.

Hamas has also been successful in stopping the international media from reporting on Hamas casualties. The only victims the journalists are allowed to report about from the Gaza Strip are the civilians. Have you seen any photos or reports in the international media about any Hamas gunmen? Of course not, no one has. The official story is that they do not exist.

Foreign journalists working in the Gaza Strip have complied with Hamas's demands and continue to avoid stories or photos that expose the Islamist movement's cynical exploitation of innocent civilians during the war. The media has once again taken sides in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In this one, it is the media that is helping Hamas get away with war crimes.
Bassam Tawil is a journalist based in the Middle East.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Some Concrete Facts About Hamas

A young IDF soldier's experience in Gaza!

We went into Shuja’iya, to discover and destroy the Hamas’ terrorist tunnels. We discovered there an entire underground city, with multi-shaft, wide tunnels, with Wi-Fi & air-conditioning systems, concrete walls, and stocked to the ceiling with weapons and explosives. Some of the tunnels are so wide, that they can ride back and forwards on Vespa-type scooters.

 And then came the worst! The Hamas “fighters” started sending towards us 13- and 14-year-old Palestinian children, running at us, wearing explosive-laden suicide-bomber belts!! Those children were death-trapped, and became human bombs, by the community’s adults!! We were trained to fight adult soldiers or any other skilled adults, enabling us to defend our families and countrymen. But this?? We had no other option but, in self-defense, to shoot them at as far a range from us as we could, before the “responsible adult” that sent them used his mobile phone to detonate the belts, and kill us.” 

One of the injured soldiers ended up by saying, “I do not know if I’ll ever be able to sleep again; the pictures of those poor children, killed by my gun, will probably never leave me!”

Some Concrete Facts About Hamas
Guess how many skyscrapers the terror organization could’ve built instead of tunnels
By Liel Leibovitz|July 23, 2014

The entrance of a tunnel reportedly dug by Palestinians beneath the border between
 the Gaza Strip and Israel and uncovered by Israeli troops in October 2013.
(David Buimovitch/AFP/Getty Images)
Israeli troops entering Gaza last week have so far uncovered 18 tunnels used by Hamas to send armed terrorists into Israel and built using an estimated 800,000 tons of concrete.

What else might that much concrete build? Erecting Dubai’s Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest tower, required 110,000 tons of concrete. Hamas, then, could’ve treated itself to seven such monstrosities and still had a few tens of thousands of tons to spare. If it wanted to build kindergartens equipped with bomb shelters, like Israel has built for the besieged citizens of Sderot, for example—after all, noted military strategists like Jon Stewart have spent last week proclaiming that Gaza’s citizens had nowhere to hide from Israel’s artillery—Hamas could have used its leftovers to whip up about two that were each as big as Giants Stadium. And that’s just 18 tunnels. Egypt, on its end, recently claimed to have destroyed an additional 1,370. That’s a lot of concrete.

You may find such calculations callous. They certainly pale in comparison to heart-wrenching photos of dead children on the beach. But they matter a whole lot: If you’ve ever read Robert Caro’s The Power Broker, or played Sim City, or just looked out your window and paid attention to your city’s changing skyline, you know that  urban leaders are measured not by what they say but what they build. And Hamas, almost exclusively, chose to build tunnels, bunkers, and launching pads for missiles.
Now, from purely military point of view, there is something brilliant about transforming a strip of coastal farmland into a giant concrete aircraft carrier that’s impossible for your enemy to sink. But the idea that Hamas’ tunnels are intended to promote the welfare of Gaza’s 1.8 million civilians, who are forced to live on deck as rockets are fired, is bunk. If the tunnels were truly lifelines for Gazans, as Western apologists occasionally argue, one might expect any reasonably responsible leadership to avoid firing barrages of rockets at civilians inside Israel.
The intention behind Hamas’ tunnels is clear from where the exits are located: inside Israel. The terror organization packed its subterranean networks of tunnels and bunkers with explosives, weapons, and murderers, some disguised as IDF soldiers. Their gallant plan was to send the killers through the tunnels, so they could emerge from the ground in the middle of Israeli kibbutzim and start throwing grenades and shooting indiscriminately, with the goal of killing as many Israelis as possible. That’s not very neighborly.
So, where did Hamas get all that concrete? Most of it came from you and your government. Hamas got its hands on the supplies it needed to build the tunnels after it pleaded with the international community last year to help redeem Gaza from the throes of a humanitarian crisis, caused by the fact that both Israel and Egypt closed their borders to Gaza, because both countries grew tired of having their soldiers and citizens murdered by terrorists. Needless to say, Israel’s concerns about how the concrete would be used were universally derided in the West as inflicting cruel and needless suffering on the people of Gaza—who, needless to say, didn’t receive any of the concrete for their own use. The priorities of Ismail Haniyeh’s government were crystal clear—to use all resources at their disposal to launch another war with Israel.
And if you are among the tens of thousands who spent last weekend demonstrating in support of Hamas, it may also be useful for you to know that while Gazans languish in in poverty, Hamas’ bosses are living large; Haniyeh, for example, bought 27,000 square feet of beach-side property a few years ago for $4 million, pays for his children to study in Europe, and sends his family members to hospitals inside Israel—all good choices, which he ensures are not available to anyone in Gaza who isn’t a high-level member of his fundamentalist political cult.
What all this adds up to is that Hamas is not seriously interested in governing Gaza, which is why all the honorable attempts at resolving this current round of bloodletting will fall flat. New elections won’t help. Giving Hamas more concrete won’t help either.
We are left with a harsh realization that makes so many of us, good liberal Jews reared on the principle that nothing stands outside the realm of reason, deeply uncomfortable: There’s no negotiating with Hamas. Not because of some lofty and abstract principle—we don’t negotiate with terrorists!—but because Hamas isn’t here to talk or build or heal the wounded people of Gaza. The organization’s raison d’etre is killing people.

Anyone with a genuine commitment to human rights—not to mention sympathy for the Palestinian cause—should join Israel in its efforts to rid the world of such sheer evil and topple Hamas. To leave Hamas in power is not a moderate solution to anything. It is to become complicit in the agenda and the actions of a terrorist organization in inflicting terrible and continuing pain not only on its neighbors but also on its own people.

Thursday, July 24, 2014


s Attack Tunnels: Analysis and Initial Implications
Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs

Ismail Haniyeh, the Hamas prime minister, delivered a revealing speech on March 23, 2014, in which he stressed the strategic importance of the Hamas attack tunnels, which, he argued, have changed the balance of power with Israel, when taken together with his organization’s military build-up. In the meantime, the IDF’s war against the tunnels continues. On Monday IDF forces thwarted another terror attack after two groups of Hamas operatives (numbering about ten) infiltrated from Gaza to Israel through a tunnel, apparently on their way to carry out a mass casualty attack at Kibbutz Erez and/or Kibbutz Nir Am.
Since Operation Protective Edge began, IDF forces have foiled several other attempted attacks by Hamas near Kibbutz Sufa and Kibbutz Nirim that also made use of attack tunnels, while uncovering and blowing up dozens of tunnels in Gaza along its border with Israel. These tunnels penetrate deep into Israeli territory, sometimes reaching a length of 2.4 kilometers (1.5 miles).
Hamas has accumulated a great deal of experience in using the tunnels for operational purposes. Since 2000, hundreds of tunnels have been dug along Gaza’s border with Egypt, providing a lifeline for Hamas’s military buildup. The tunnels have been a main conduit for Palestinian imports from Egypt on a scale of millions of dollars annually, and for smuggling military supplies (from ammunition to missiles) and the construction materials needed to build the network of attack tunnels in Gaza.
Importation through the tunnels (it was in Egypt’s political interest that this be referred to as “smuggling”) was fully controlled by the Hamas government, which levied a tax on the items and used its huge profits to accelerate its military buildup and preparation for hostilities with Israel.
During the Second Intifada, which began in September 2000, Hamas made use of attack tunnels that were dug opposite IDF positions along the Philadelphi Route. These tunnels enabled Hamas to lay powerful explosive charges beside the IDF positions in an effort to destroy them. On June 25, 2006, a joint Hamas/Jaish al-Islam (an al-Qaeda affiliate) unit infiltrated from Gaza to Israel through a tunnel whose opening was about a hundred meters from the border in Israeli territory, near the Kerem Shalom crossing. In that attack, an officer and a soldier were killed and the soldier Gilad Shalit was abducted.

Hamas built tunnels to smuggle weapons under the Philadelphi Route from Egypt to the Gaza Strip. In recent years it has also dug attack tunnels from Gaza into Israel.

Hamas, Hizbullah and even North Korean Tunnels
Based on Hizbullah’s experience in the Second Lebanon War, and with the assistance and guidance of Iran, Hamas has also made use of the tunnels to build an underground network of missile launchers. During the Second Lebanon War, Hizbullah greatly expanded its underground fortifications in Southern Lebanon with the aid of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRCG) and even North Korean engineers, who also provided guidance in how to incorporate the tunnels into Hizbullah’s military doctrine.1

Tunnel warfare provided armies facing a technologically superior adversary with an effective means for countering its air superiority. For example, a tunnel is opened only briefly to launch rockets and then immediately closed to prevent detection of the launchers’ location by the IDF. The concealment of these launchers in tunnels, in the heart of the civilian population, makes it very difficult to detect them in real time and attack them.
The rule of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt during 2012-2013 was a golden age for Hamas, the Palestinian branch of the Brotherhood.  During the tenure of President Mohamed Morsi and his foreign policy adviser Khaled al-Kazaz (a resident of Canada), missiles and a great deal of ammunition moved through the tunnels to Gaza, along with the materials needed to construct plants and manufacture missiles.
In addition to receiving close to half the budget of the Palestinian Authority, the economic aid the Hamas government received from international actors, including European countries, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates, has helped it channel significant resources to its military buildup and the construction of the attack tunnels.
Also of help to Hamas were Israeli and international human rights organizations, which constantly pressured Israel to allow the entry of cement and iron into Gaza for purposes of civilian construction. In reality, these materials mainly went into building the attack-tunnel network, instead of houses for the Palestinians.
The attack tunnels create a new equation in the power balance between Israel and Hamas. They give Hamas an ability to infiltrate Israel and carry out strategic attacks involving mass killing, along with an ability to launch missiles from locations concealed within civilian population centers that serve, in effect, as human shields. Should Hamas retain in the future 20 tunnels, and dispatch 50 operatives in each, they could deploy 1,000 men behind Israeli lines. The tunnels would allow Hamas to wreak havoc if they are left in place.
Hizbullah’s tactics, learned from Iran, have been replicated in Gaza, particularly the use of the tunnels to provide “breathing space” in waging the military campaign. The Hamas-Hizbullah-Iranian aim is to cause as much harm as possible to the civilian population and weaken Israel by damaging its economy. Like Hizbullah, Hamas in the current round has tried to strike strategic targets in Israel and inflict mass casualties, including
the nuclear reactor in Dimona, the chemical plants in Haifa, and Ben-Gurion International Airport.
Despite the reconciliation agreement with Fatah and the establishment of the unity government, one of Hamas’s objectives in the war is to ignite another intifada on the West Bank aimed ultimately at the toppling of Palestinian Authority rule and instituting a Hamas takeover of the Palestinian national movement. This current round of fighting highlights the importance of continued Israeli security control of key areas of the West Bank to prevent a Hamas takeover of the Palestinian Authority, and the maintenance of minimal defensible borders should a Palestinian state be established.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014


The General Security Service interrogated several senior Hamas terrorists and it became clear that all 45 tunnels they had dug reached populated areas.

Pictures were released and were shown on the Israeli news how these tunnels pass underneath people’s homes.
See the link for pictures of the “underground city of Gaza”.

Hamas planned on Erev Rosh Hashana (the Jewish New Year) to use the tunnels and enter directly into dining rooms of all populated areas in the south. Each tunnel would accommodate 200 terrorists who were to kill all the Jews.

This was the plan for a Mega attack in order to achieve control over all these areas in the Gaza perimeter.

Below is a cartoon but it is too close to the truth.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Is the BBC really pro-Israel?

By Tom Gross, July 19, 2014
The National Post

Some 5,000 rowdy demonstrators chanting anti-Israeli (and, in some cases, blatantly anti-Semitic) slogans brought traffic to a virtual standstill outside the BBC’s central London headquarters in Portland Place last week. They were protesting what they claim to be the BBC’s “pro-Israel” bias.

The next day, the BBC flagship Today radio news program (a program which is near compulsory listening for the British political elite, including the prime minister), ran an item on the demonstration, examining the absurd proposition that the BBC – which for decades has been at the forefront of providing a worldwide platform for Palestinian extremists (one correspondent, Barbara Plett, even admitted on air that she cried in sorrow when Yasser Arafat died) – was in fact “pro-Israel.”

“Are the protesters right? Have we been biased at the BBC in favor of Israel?” BBC anchor Mishal Husain asked her guest Greg Philo, professor of Communications and Social Change at Glasgow University.
Philo responded: “I’ve had many senior journalists at the BBC saying they simply can’t get the Palestinian viewpoint across… the Palestinian perspective is just not there.”
Leaving aside Husain’s own bias against Israel, which was well documented by watchdog organizations at the time of the last major Hamas-Israel flare-up in November 2012, the claim by Philo, and the choice to use him as the studio guest, is bizarre.
Indeed, Gaza seems to dominate BBC foreign coverage — so much so that thousands of people killed last week in Yemen, Syria, Iraq, Libya and various African conflicts have barely been mentioned.
“The BBC has had way more people in Gaza just this week than they had in Baghdad at the height of the Iraq war, more than they ever had in Basra and more than they have had in Afghanistan,” a friend of mine, a seasoned British war correspondent who has extensively covered the Afghan and Iraq wars, wrote to me this week. The British, American and other militaries have killed far more people in both Afghanistan and Iraq than Israel has ever killed in Gaza. And of course Afghans and Iraqis haven’t fired thousands of rockets indiscriminately into British and American cities.
Those BBC correspondents in Gaza (Jeremy Bowen, Lyse Doucet, Paul Adams, Yolande Knell, Quentin Sommerville, Rushdi Abualouf, Shahdi al Kashif, and several others reporting on Gaza from elsewhere including James Reynolds, Kevin Connolly and Jonathan Marcus) have this week, as they have for years, presented Palestinian claims against Israel in the most graphic detail.
And many of those Palestinian claims are misleading at best. On Friday, for example, a BBC reporter in Gaza, replying to the question about how ordinary Palestinians were coping “with Israeli actions,” informed us that “no one has any electricity.”
What he didn’t say, and what the BBC anchor didn’t point out, is that the reason that 70,000 Gazans (not “all Gazans”) have been left without electricity is because Hamas – not Israel – fired a rocket that hit a Gaza power line. (By contrast, NATO did “bomb Serbia into darkness” in 1999, and the U.S. did so in Iraq both in the Gulf War and in 2003.)
Indeed the BBC, along with most of the international media, have failed to tell us that quite a number of Palestinian deaths in Gaza were the result of misfired Palestinian rockets. Last week alone, at least 100 Hamas rockets accidently hit targets within Gaza.
The BBC (and other media) barely mentioned that on Friday – under pressure from Israel and the U.S. – the UN agency UNRWA (United Nations Relief and Works Agency) admitted that 20 Hamas rockets have been stored at an UNRWA school in Gaza. This is, of course, not news to people who follow the region closely; Hamas has for years stored and fired its arsenals at Israel from or near hospitals, schools, ambulances and mosques, in multiple breaches of international law.
A report by BBC world affairs correspondent Paul Adams was one of several on the network in recent days to make use of a Nazi analogy. Israel, we were told, had made “a concentration camp of 1.8 million people.” Other BBC reports made the ridiculous claim that Palestinians were “starving for the past 8 years” (Click here to see photos of food of “Gazans preparing for Ramadan” last month)
To its credit, “BBC Trending” – one small part of the vast network of TV, radio and online channels that comprises the BBC – ran an item this month admitting that pictures of alleged victims of Israeli airstrikes on Gaza were inaccurate, some for example, actually showing scenes from Syria and Iraq. One photo circulated by Hamas last week purported to show a teenager in Gaza killed by an Israeli airstrike. It was, in fact, a still image from the Hollywood horror film Final Destination 4.
But what the “BBC Trending” item didn’t point out is that some of the most senior BBC correspondents in the Middle East, such as former Gaza correspondent Jon Donnison, have been responsible for sending out inaccurate photos on their BBC Twitter feeds.
Of course it is not only the BBC who are allowing their prejudices to get in the way of balanced reporting. On Friday, for example, one of CNN’s Gaza correspondents, Diana Magnay, sent out a tweet calling Israelis “scum” (CNN has since apologized and reassigned Magnay to Russia.) But can you imagine the outcry if she had called Palestinians, or Muslims, “scum”?
Jon Stewart, on the Daily Show, called Hamas “Freedom Fighters.” That’s not very funny for the five million Israelis – 80% of the population – who have had to cower in bomb shelters this past week. And it’s not funny for the Gazans who live under Hamas’s highly oppressive rule and risk their lives if they dare to criticize the regime. Also unfunny was the Washington Post’s Wednesday cartoon, which depicted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu repeatedly punching a Palestinian baby.
Peter Beaumont, the correspondent for the influential British paper The Guardian has (as of July 17) run 20 articles on the current Gaza conflict, comprising 18,886 words butnot one report of his has properly explained Hamas’ use of human shields – even though this is crucial to understanding the situation and Hamas itself has repeatedly boasted of this policy as an effective way to deter Israel from attacking its rocket launchers. By contrast, the Arab media has been full of reports on the use of human shields (which is a war crime under international law).
Indeed people in the West might not realize it, but many Arab media are far more honest about the ills of Hamas than we might find in the West.

“Thank you Netanyahu and may God give us more [people] like you to destroy Hamas!” wrote Azza Sami in the leading Egyptian newspaper Al-Ahram. On Egyptian TV, several commentators said they were “sick and tired” of Hamas. There have been similar sentiments in Saudi Arabia, Lebanon and even in the Fatah-controlled West Bank. So the next time 5,000 rowdy demonstrators take to the street to protest Western media’s supposed “pro-Israel” bias, they might want to keep in mind the history, the facts and what Arab media are saying about Hamas.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

My Letter of Apology to the world media

Rolene Marks July 16th 2014 THE TIMES OF ISRAEL

Please allow me to apologise on behalf of all the citizens of the State of Israel.

 I humbly apologise to you and your readers and to the world for our leaders defending our right to live. Here in Israel, we consider living a basic human right.

The indignation of journalists, commentators and your readership has prompted them to spew forth some of the most vile invective we have seen other than that of Der Sturmer circa 1940’s and the letters and op-eds posted in your publication have educated me in a new level of hatred.

I apologise that it is left up to our army to make sure that the citizens of Gaza are evacuated from dangerous zones safely through pamphlets, text messages and roof knocking. I guess my text message and pamphlet were lost due to Hamas being on strike. Literally. 

I apologise that we have not racked up those large numbers of Israeli casualties you were hoping for. I apologise for a government who values my life and those of my fellow citizens so much they do anything in their power to protect it. Whatever internal squabbles we may have or policies we agree or don’t agree on, life is valuable.

 I am sorry for our defense forces, made up of representatives of all sectors of Israeli society, who both prepare us and defend us with their lives.

I am sorry for our Iron Dome batteries that intercept the rockets aiming for our death and destruction. For those of you calling Israel an Apartheid state, Iron Dome makes no distinction between Jew, Christian or Arab. We are all targets.

I apologise that our government has made sure that we are equipped with bomb shelters and know how much time we need to take cover.

 I am sorry that Hamas prefer to build weapons smuggling tunnels instead of protecting their citizens but the “death industry” (their words not mine – google it yourself) has proven more lucrative than saving lives.

Most of all, I am sorry that this upsets you so much that in countries across the world you choose to take out your frustration on members of the Jewish community, attacking people physically, in the media and in barely disguised hateful press releases.

Please accept my humble apologies for any inconvenience we may have caused you.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014


When the clear strategy of Hamas is to locate itself within the civilian population, it is agonising to resolve

DANIEL TAUB 15th July 2014 “The Independent”

There are two Gazas. The first is the Gaza of the Palestinian people; of men, women and children who wish to work, play and live in peace; the Gaza we see on our TV screens; today a place of genuine pain and suffering.

But there is a second Gaza, subterranean Gaza. It is a web of hundreds of fortified tunnels, constructed for smuggling weapons and cross border attacks. It is a massive complex of thousands of storage basements and bunkers, below schools and mosques, filled with tens of thousands of launchers and missiles, whether short-range rockets constructed in Gaza, with electricity provided by Israel's power plant in Ashkelon, or long-range weapons shipped in from Iran on boats, like the KLOS-C intercepted by Israel earlier this year. It is a network of terrorist leaders, many trained alongside Hezbollah and other terrorists in Iran, now returned, taking up their cowardly positions in command centres within and below the heart of civilian areas, and most cynically of all in the basement of Shifa, Gaza's central hospital.

It is from this second Gaza, this Gaza of below, that over 1000 rockets have been fired on Israel in the past week, over 11,000 since Israel pulled out of Gaza in 2005. As the number of missiles has risen, so has their range, so that today more than 3.5 million Israelis are within reach, and must live their lives within seconds of bomb shelters.

The dilemma that Israel has faced this past week is simply put. How to confront that Gaza of below, without causing unnecessary anguish to the Gaza of above? Simple to put but agonising to resolve, particularly when the clear strategy of Hamas has been not only to locate itself within the civilian population, but also to force that population to serve as human shields. As Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri told Al Aqsa TV, the official Hamas television channel, last week: “The people oppose the Israeli fighter planes with their bodies alone... We, the [Hamas] movement, call on our people to adopt this method in order to protect the Palestinian homes.”

Israel's response to Hamas provocation has been twofold. First, it sought to avoid confrontation altogether. For years residents of Israel's south have lived with the threat of terrorist attacks, while Israel has limited its response to building shelters and developing Iron Dome, a passive missile defence system which shoots down rockets after they leave the Gaza Strip. Even over the past three weeks of continued escalation, Israel's repeated message to Hamas was to step back from the brink. Quiet would be met with quiet. Yet Hamas was bent on escalation. In the seven days before Israel reluctantly decided to launch Operation Protective Edge, Hamas fired an average of seventeen rockets per day.

Second, when it could fail to respond no longer, Israel made strenuous efforts to focus its attacks on the terrorist infrastructure, successfully targeting 3000 rockets and 800 missile launchers. At the same time it took extraordinary measures to limit the damage to the civilians above and around these targets. One is hard-pressed to find an example of another conflict in which a military used phone calls, text messages, leaflets, and warning shots to alert residents to impending strikes. Where civilians remained in spite of these measures—often under instructions from Hamas—attacks were frequently aborted.

Notwithstanding these efforts, there has been a heavy civilian toll on the Palestinian side. Since Israel uses its arms to protect its civilians, whereas Hamas uses its civilians to protect its weapons, there has been a predictable asymmetry of casualties. But proportionality is not a tit-for-tat numbers game. Only perverse logic would deem Israel's actions more proportionate if Israel allowed more of its civilians to be killed. Proportionality is measured with regard to the threat one faces. In Israel's case this threat is a stockpile of thousands of rockets and missiles, threatening the bulk of Israel's population, in the hands of a terrorist regime committed to Israel's destruction.

Two Gazas. The Gaza of above is held tragically hostage to Gaza of below. But there is a third Gaza: the Gaza that could have been. In 2005 Israel uprooted more than 8000 Israelis and more than twenty settlements from Gaza, in the hope that Gazans would build a prosperous society, with tourists flocking to its beautiful beaches and agriculture flourishing in the greenhouses Israel left behind. Since then the greenhouses have been smashed and Gazan society brutalised by the Hamas regime.

When this terrorist regime is finally disarmed and dismantled, this third Gaza may yet become a reality.

Daniel Taub is Israel's Ambassador to the United Kingdom