Four Hostages Freed; 274 Palestinians Killed

A Brutal Calculus

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Reprinted from Bracing Views with the author’s permission.

If you have to kill 274 people to free four others being held hostage, is that a “successful” military operation? According to the Israeli and U.S. governments, it is.

Israel, apparently with some U.S. help, attacked the Nuseirat Camp in Gaza and freed four hostages seized by Hamas. In doing so, however, Israeli forces killed and wounded hundreds of unarmed men, women, and children.

It’s a brutal calculus that sees Palestinians as being “in the way” and essentially worthless and therefore expendable. Put differently, Israel sees all Palestinians in Gaza as “guilty,” as “terrorists,” therefore there are no innocent Palestinians and Israel can kill as many as they need to, without guilt or remorse, to achieve a desired end.

Coverage by the mainstream media in the West generally has been glowing, praising Israel for rescuing four hostages while downplaying the Palestinian dead as collateral damage that’s hardly worth noticing.

Here’s an example from the BBC:

You see a happy young woman freed by Israeli forces, but you don’t see any images of the more than 200 Palestinians killed by Israel in this “special military operation.” And note how the Palestinian dead are consigned to a sub-heading and a smaller font, using the passive voice (“were killed”), as if it’s unclear who killed them and why.

Yes, it’s good to see four hostages freed. But if hundreds of other innocent people must die or suffer grievous wounds in the process, that’s not a “successful” operation. It’s a massacre.

William J. Astore is a retired lieutenant colonel (USAF). He taught history for fifteen years at military and civilian schools. He writes at Bracing Views.