Israel at War: A Primer

Israel has launched a major military operation against Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip. Over the coming days and beyond, Israel will come under intense pressure both in the mainstream media and in online forums and the blogosphere. HonestReporting presents a guide to the important talking points to enable you to answer the questions and issues that will appear.

Defending Israeli citizens from terrorist fire

  • A quarter of a million Israeli citizens have been living under incessant terror attacks from the Gaza Strip with thousands of missiles fired over the past eight years.
  • These missiles have been described as “home made” by the media. They are, in fact, deadly. Hamas has in its possession longer range Katyushas and Grad-type missiles which can cause devastation such as that on Monday 29 December as one Israeli was killed and 14 injured in a Grad attack on Ashkelon.

  • Israel left Gaza in 2005, giving Palestinians the chance to run their own lives. Despite this, more than 6300 rockets and mortars have been fired into Israel since then.
  • During the past year alone, more than 3000 rockets and mortars have been launched into Israel.
  • Since the end of a formal ceasefire (during which terror attacks continued) with Hamas came to an end on Dec. 19, more than 170 rockets and mortars have been fired at Israeli civilians including a barrage of some 80 missiles on Dec. 24 alone.
  • As US President-elect Obama stated during a visit to Sderot five months ago, “If somebody was sending rockets into my house where my two daughters sleep at night, I would do everything to stop that, and would expect Israel to do the same thing.”
  • No other country in the world would have exercised the amount of restraint that Israel has shown for the past several years without responding.

Hamas bears responsibility


  • The deterioration in the situation is the direct result of Hamas policy. It violated the calm, is firing against and attacking Israeli citizens, and is investing all its resources in arming itself and gathering power.
  • If Hamas would renounce the path of terror, there would be no need for the Israeli action. Quiet will be answered with quiet, but terror will elicit a response.
  • “We strongly condemn the repeated rocket and mortar attacks against Israel and hold Hamas responsible for breaking the ceasefire and for the renewal of violence there.” – US Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice
  • “We talked to them [Hamas] and we told them ‘please, we ask you, do not end the truce. Let the truce continue and not stop’ so that we could have avoided what happened.” – Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas
  • “For quite some time, Egypt has been warning. Whoever tried to confuse the understand of [ignore] this warning, must bear the responsibility. The Prime Minister of Israel warned the Hamas and said: “You must stop, otherwise we will take measures in response.” In response to what? To not renewing the calm, to the rocket fire. Just before the arrival of [Israeli Foreign Minister] Livni to Egypt, 60 rockets were fired from Gaza!” –  Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit

Israel targets Hamas and the terrorist infrastructure


  • The goal of the Israeli military action is to strike the growing infrastructure of terror and ability of Hamas and its allied organizations to launch missiles and mortars at Israeli citizens and carry out terror attacks.
  • Hamas has used the ceasefire to massively arm itself with increasingly sophisticated weapons to expand the range of the threat against Israeli civilians.
  • Hamas has demonstrated its increased threat as the Ashdod area was hit by rockets, marking the northernmost point where Hamas rockets have reached, more than 40km north of Gaza.

Israel does not target Palestinian civilians


  • The terrorist organizations work out of the Palestinian population centers and cynically exploit them, so the responsibility for Palestinian civilians getting hurt rests on their shoulders. Israel, for its part directs its activity at terrorist elements and does its utmost to refrain from harming the innocent.
  • Those homes and buildings which are used for storing weapons caches and manufacturing weaponry are legitimate military targets.
  • The high casualty figures being fed to the media from (unreliable) Palestinian medical sources do not differentiate between terrorists and civilians. The vast majority of those killed in IDF actions have been terrorists. Hamas terrorists do not always wear uniforms to distinguish themselves from the general population.
  • As The Times of London reports: “Radio stations ordered all members of the security forces, who have borne the brunt of the attack, to slip into civilian clothes, stay away from their bases and avoid congregating in groups to escape death from above.”
  • At the time of writing, even the United Nations is citing some 50 civilian deaths out of more than 300 Palestinian casualties.
  • Hamas TV has acknowledged this morning that the vast majority of those killed are from the Hamas military. A news ticker running repeatedly from 10:00 AM announced:

“More than 180 Palestinian policemen were killed including the [Police] Commander, General Tawfik Jaber.”

In the background Hamas TV is repeatedly broadcasting the same scenes of dozens of bodies of the uniformed Hamas soldiers who were killed in Israel’s first attack Saturday when Israel hit a Hamas officer’s course graduation ceremony. (Source: Palestinian Media Watch)

  • In stark contrast to Israel, Hamas actively celebrates targeting Israeli civilians. A video on Hamas TV Sunday morning blended pictures of Hamas fighters shooting at Israel with pictures of injured Israelis and medical evacuation scenes. In addition, the visuals include pictures of skulls dripping with blood, captioned: “Let them taste violent death”. Other narrations and texts include:
    “Send them to Hell! Tear them to pieces!”
    “Send them to Hell, Qassam missile!” (Source: Palestinian Media Watch)

  • Israel has collected intelligence on specific targets for the past year and has not indiscriminately attacked the Gaza Strip. For example, during the Hamas takeover of the Gaza Strip in 2007, Hamas took control over many facilities in Gaza, including this building and the “Palestinian Prisoner Tower” located in southern Gaza City. The facility was being used as a central operational facility for Hamas security operations and as a weapons arsenal. Hamas offices were also located inside this building and and additionally, large amounts of weapons are also stored inside. The building was used only by Hamas and was not a residential building by any means.

Preventing a humanitarian crisis


  • Israel has continued to allow humanitarian aid to pass through Gaza’s border crossings despite Hamas’s rocket and mortar attacks, including upon the crossings themselves.
  • 23 trucks bearing medical supplies, basic food commodities and other humanitarian goods passed through the Kerem Shalom crossing into Gaza beginning at 10.30am on Sunday morning (28 Dec).
  • “As the prime minister said yesterday, we are not at war with the Palestinian people, but with the Hamas terrorists, and therefore we are bringing in the goods for the Palestinian people,” said IDF Major Peter Lerner, Defense Ministry Coordinator for Government Activities in the Territories.
  • Three humanitarian aid agencies are sending goods into the Gaza Strip: UNWRA (United Nations Relief and Works Agency), WFA (World Food Agency) and the ICRC (International Committee of the Red Cross). All three agencies were notified Saturday evening that they would be allowed to send as many truckloads of supplies into the region as they could muster. “We didn’t place any limit on the number of trucks,” Lerner said. “There are only 30 truckloads because that was what they were able to get ready for today.”

  • Israel also plans to allow some Palestinians wounded in Saturday’s offensive on Hamas to enter Israel to receive medical treatment. Meanwhile, Hamas is preventing wounded Palestinians from crossing into Egypt to receive treatment.

Further sources


What can you do?


  • Please use the above to counter some of the misreporting and disinformation that is already appearing in both the mainstream media and online.
  • Download our free Internet Activism Guide to help you respond to media bias online. As the Internet grows as a battleground for Israels legitimacy, we bring you the tools you need to join the fight. Our 24-page booklet covers the fundamental principles of online activism.

  • Keep updated on the latest events through Israeli news sites such as The Jerusalem Post, YNet News and Ha’aretz as well as Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
  • Forward this communique and encourage your friends and family to subscribe to HonestReporting to receive regular updates on media bias and where and how to respond, particularly during this crisis period.

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