Hamas Clearly Understands Israel’s Commitment to Human Life and Worked Out Its Strategy Accordingly 

There was a time when America faced a similar predicament.

AP/Adel Hana
The head of Hamas in Gaza, Yehya Sinwar, April 30, 2022. AP/Adel Hana

War is not just a strategic and political struggle between nations. It ultimately comes down to numbers, and it takes determined men (and sometimes women) to understand that equation and prosecute accordingly. That can be especially difficult when one side places a great value on human life and the other side does not.

It is not impossible, though, for democracies that value life to be, at crucial moments, just as indifferent in order to succeed. America  proved this in World War II. Today, Israel faces the same difficult decisions with Hamas. 

The Israeli government now appears to be hamstrung between pursuing its original objective of soundly destroying the Jihadist terror organization and Iranian proxy or succumbing to the pressure for a possible return of the remaining hostages. Hamas clearly understands Israel’s strong commitment to human life and orchestrated this by abducting over 300 men, women, and babies on October 7. 

In 2011, the Israelis gave up over 1,000 Palestinian terrorists for one kidnapped Israeli soldier, Gilad Shalit. A majority of Israelis approved this one-sided deal and celebrated Shalit’s return. Among the released Palestinian terrorists were many who would commit horrible crimes on October 7. They included the architect of the entire invasion, Yehya Sinwar. 

Democracies must answer to their citizens, totalitarian governments couldn’t care less what their citizens think. In Israel, the hostage families have gone beyond Jerusalem and met with world leaders to put pressure on Prime Minister Netanyahu. Hamas uses Palestinian lives for propaganda. 

Most people don’t remember, but there was a time when America evaluated an existential threat and made the difficult decision to lose vast numbers of its own citizens in order to save many more. In 1942, just months after Pearl Harbor, the American Army Air Forces began to establish bomber bases in England for the purpose of giving back to Germany, what England had been receiving since 1940.

Curtis LeMay, who had been a lieutenant just months before, was now an untried colonel in charge of 35 B-17 bombers. Barely trained, they were so green that LeMay wasn’t even sure they would all make it across the Atlantic. Worse, they would be going up against the world’s best and most experienced air force at that time, the Luftwaffe.

In Washington, military planners and the political leadership made a calculated decision to use these early crews as cannon fodder in order to whittle down the German Air Force. They understood the hard truth that America could build bombers and train replacement crews faster than the Germans. The gamble paid off. By the Normandy invasion, two years later, the Allies ruled the skies over Europe. 

But this victory in the air came at a terrific cost. More than 26,000 Yank airmen were killed over Europe alone. The Eighth Air Force, the umbrella arm of American forces, had a higher casualty rate than the Marines in the Pacific. Of the original 35 crews that LeMay brought across, fewer than five survived the war.

Three months after becoming president in 1945, Harry Truman had to make a different calculation. Truman decided it was worth the severe cost of killing more than 100,000 Japanese civilians in two atomic flashes, as opposed to a costly invasion and prolonged ground war in Japan.

Casualty rates were projected to be as many as 1 million Americans and 2 million Japanese civilians in a ground war, and those estimates may have been low. Making a decision to kill 100,000 human beings to save millions seems obvious, especially when you are not the one making it.

One factor no country had to contend with in World War II is the 24-hour news cycle and instant photographs that the press jumps on before fact-checking. Recall the “bombing” of the Gaza hospital this past October that was immediately blamed, incorrectly, on Israel. Or claiming Israel intentionally killed the seven aid workers when it was clearly a mistake, which happens constantly in war. 

This is a revolutionary change in 21st century warfare, putting democracies at a distinct disadvantage with a religious supremacist death cult and, in Israel’s case, a mainstream press quick to criticize the Jewish State. Hamas and its supporters use this constantly to their advantage.

There is one common link between Israel today and America back then.  Our leaders in World War II led a population that understood whom they were fighting and what was at stake, and Americans were willing to back up those costly decisions with their sons. There were more than 400,000 Gold Star families in World War II. That is, ultimately, the number that won the war.

The New York Sun

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