Why Exactly Does Hamas Launch Rockets From Civilian Areas?

In the end Hamas rockets do more harm to Hamas than Israel. (Photo: Amir Farshad Ebrahimi / Flickr)

In the end Hamas rockets do more harm to Hamas than Israel. (Photo: Amir Farshad Ebrahimi / Flickr)

By nature I’m sympathetic to the Palestinians simply because they’re an occupied state. On the other hand, I’m leery of Hamas especially because they launch attacks from civilian areas. Of course, it’s a tactic long employed by guerilla groups. The logic is two-fold:

1. The presence of civilians, aka human shields, will give an enemy, especially one that claims to be reluctant to cause civilian casualties, pause before striking and thus act as a deterrent.

2. Even if it doesn’t deter, civilians killed will turn world sentiment against your enemy.

The first is obviously not working because the IDF (Israel Defense Force) attacks everything from houses where Hamas commanders live with their families to mosques, a center for the disabled, and charities. The IDF may claim to call before attacks, but, clinging to the outdated notion that their presence is a deterrent, some families stay. Meanwhile, the second has been effective in increasing — especially with the mosque attacks — Muslim animosity toward Israel (if that’s possible).

The IDF’s point of view, via Lebanon’s Daily Star:

“Hamas terrorists systematically exploit and choose to put Palestinians in Gaza in harm’s way and continue to locate their positions among civilian areas and mosques, proving once more their disregard for human life and holy sites,” said Lt. Col. Peter Lerner, an Israeli military spokesman.

But the second rationale is not working to the extent that it hasn’t induced the United States to stay Israel’s hand. The tired refrain “We support Israel’s right to defend itself” has lodged itself itself in our minds like a bad top-40 song.

In fact, Gaza may be too densely populated to launch missiles from anywhere but civilian neighborhoods. (Not, of course, that launching missiles is they’re only redress to Israel’s occupation and attacks; arguably, it’s the approach with the least prospect of success.) Furthermore, if the Qassam Brigades (the military wing of Hamas) launched rockets from open areas, its soldiers would be sitting ducks. If its fighters used hit-and-run strikes from mobile platforms, such as pick-up trucks, they could escape before retaliation, but the IDF would still likely attack commanders’ homes.

In any event, it doesn’t bode well for Gazans. From Reuters:

Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri sounded a defiant note, when asked about Yaalon’s remarks. “Our backs are to the wall and we have nothing to lose,” he said. “We are ready to battle until the end.”

Of course, the Associated Press reports, “Some quietly criticize Hamas.”

Abu Ali, a driver for his family business who identified himself only by his first names to avoid Hamas retribution, insisted that at least in his immediate neighborhood, the movement was widely reviled.

Though “they’re too afraid to say so publicly,” he said, “Everybody here hates Hamas.” Presumably, in part, because of the retaliation it invokes, but also because of its lack of effectiveness.

“Our food comes from Israel but what we give them in return is rockets — rockets that don’t even make little holes in the ground.”

  • http://auntieimperial.tumblr.com/ Razer Ray

    Why? Because they have NO NON-CIVILIAN AREAS. If any place in Palestine was designated military, the Israelis would immediately destroy it with or without any ‘war’ in progress.

    PS. I’m noting that FPIF has unfortunately sought the use of CloudFlare to prevent service disruptions.

    Their owner has admitted voluntarily, long before Edward Snowden’s revelations that he fully cooperates with the feds to spy on Americans and I do NOT allow his “services” to access my browser with javascript. I’ve noted irregularities in the formatting of FPIF pages due to that. including the use of the Disqus comment form and I would request FPIF finds another non-federally affiliated caching service to use.

    About Cloudflare’s spying on US citizens:

    Yasha Levine:

    “The people who founded CloudFlare were behind something called Project Honey Pot, a service that positions itself as some kind of a grassroot-y antispam registry, but in reality seems to be a pro-corporate law enforcement tool…

    …On top of that, CloudFlare’s CEO Matthew Prince made a weird, glib admission that he decided to start the company only after the Department of Homeland Security gave him a call in 2007 and suggested he take the technology behind Project Honey Pot one step further…

    And that makes CloudFlare a whole different story: People who sign up for the service are allowing CloudFlare to monitor, observe and scrutinize all of their site’s traffic, which makes it much easier for intel or law enforcement agencies to collect info on websites and without having to hack or request the logs from each hosting company separately.”


  • Rachel

    I’m confused by the opening in this article, as the author claims he is sympathetic to the Palestineans because they are an occupied state. Gaza is not occupied. It is a self governed strip of land, with a terrorist orgnization as it’s elected officials.

    • Joe

      Gaza IS occupied. Israel controls ALL entrances and exits…and it shoots rockets into Gaza at will.

      • Rachel

        Shoots rockets at will? I think you have Israel confused with Hamas…
        If Israel is occupying Gaza now, what was it doing pre-2005?
        Israel controls the enterance it uses to allow humanitarian aid to the people who are shooting rockets at them..
        Gaza also borders Egypt, but Egypt closed the Rafah crossing into Gaza after Hamas took over.

        Lets not forget who supplies Gaza with water and electricity! (it’s not Egypt or Hamas)

      • Kevin Dougherty

        Israel controls all entrances and exits to Israel, and have now closed the tunnels that were servicing the Hamas terrorists.

      • Uri

        Israel DOES NOT control Gaza’s border with Egypt.

  • stigberg1@netscape.net

    Wellen’s observation is spot-on. Gaza is effectively occupied. It is essentially a terrorized bantustan of Israel which maintains total control over what enters or leaves.

    Ed. note: “Not, of course, that launching missiles is they’re (their) only redress…”

  • Bob R
  • SB

    What is Hamas Doing to Schools & Hospitals in Gaza?
    you are invited to view this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H8bwiour-iM