Column: No Guilt or Apologies Over Arab Deaths in Hostage Rescue

Column: No Guilt or Apologies Over Arab Deaths in Hostage Rescue

Israeli hostages pictured after their rescue from Hamas captivity in Gaza on June 8, 2024. From left: Shlomi Ziv (IDF); Andrey Kozlov and Almog Meir Jan (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90); and Noa Argamani (Courtesy).

‘God bless the rescued hostages, and God bless…all the security forces for this heroic act!’

Reader’s reply in The Jerusalem Post

‘PHILADELPHIA, Pennsylvania – I suppose we should feel guilt when an unidentified Gazan declares, “My two cousins were killed…They did not commit any sin. They were sitting at home,” as the Associated Press reported.

Guilt? Four hostages are freed by Israeli forces who raided two apartment buildings in central Gaza Saturday and whisked them back to Israel.

I wonder how we should respond when United Nations spokesman Jeremy Laurence tells BBC that the raid “seriously calls into question whether the principles of distinction, proportionality and precaution…were respected” and could constitute war crimes.

How about: Stuff it.

No guilt, no apologies, no regrets, no questions, not even confusion. Rescuing four of our brethren was worth everything Israeli forces needed to do Saturday morning.

Of course, it was horrid that innocents died amid the act of liberating Noa Argamani, 25, Almog Meir, 21, Andrey Kozlov, 27, and Shlomi Ziv, 40, eight months after terrorists seized them in southern Israel and transported them to Gaza. Hamas left behind the bodies of 1,200 Israelis in Sderot and other Israeli communities.

These Palestinians were not Israel’s innocents. Were Israeli forces supposed to leave the foursome behind so they could spare Palestinian lives?

Israel’s military response since Hamas’ Oct. 7 invasion of Israel has been more than disturbing. It certainly left the appearance that Israel went further than necessary to protect Israel. Hamas claims that Israel’s attacks killed 36,000 Palestinians, both terrorists and civilians. Their figures could well be exaggerated, but many civilians have been killed during the last eight months and it looks excessive.

However, Israel’s rescue at the Nuseirat refugee camp on Saturday was fully justified. Saving one or all hostages is Israel’s reason for sending ground forces to Gaza.

Israel is responsible for protecting its citizens as Hamas is obligated to defend its subjects. Israel does what it can to retrieve hostages and prevent further attacks against Israel. It has no responsibility for people who are controlled by an adversary, namely Hamas. Israel should nonetheless try to prevent civilian deaths in Gaza whenever possible.

Hamas endangers its own people, treating Gazans as human shields during military confrontations. It is cruel and savage. Not even Uganda did that when it provided a haven for terrorists who held 100 Israeli hostages at Entebbe.

Israel must put its own citizens first. Israel had an opportunity to rescue four of its citizens and it took advantage of it. It was probably their only chance to bring them home.

Israel lost Chief Inspector Arnon Zamora of the Yamam, Israel’s police special forces unit, in combat with terrorists. He was seriously wounded and later died of his injuries, according to media reports. Rescuers retrieved Noa from one apartment building and the other three hostages from a second apartment building.

The Israel Defense Forces initially estimated the Palestinian death toll as 90 and the Hamas-controlled health ministry contends that 274 Palestinians were killed, including women and children, according to the BBC.

Saturday’s victory is a joyous milestone. Jews worldwide, especially in Israel, had occasion to celebrate. It was a let up from eight months of grief and anxiety.

We all understand that the Nuseirat rescue will not end the detention of possibly 100 other hostages, or fully resolve the current bout between Israel and Hamas. It may even worsen conditions for the remaining hostages.

The deaths of Palestinian civilians in the June 8 rescue was highlighted in media reports and even in letters to the editor, as with New York Times letter-writer Kathy O’Gara’s call for Israel to wait for diplomacy to free these four and “many more of the remaining hostages.”

“Many more,” she says? Does she mean that it is acceptable to leave some hostages in the hands of Hamas? Can we trust Hamas to even release “many more” hostages?

Then she adds: “Increasingly, Israel is presenting an image that it cares only about its own citizens and does not value the lives of Palestinians.”

When four Israelis are being held by terrorists, Israel is presenting no image. You can bet that “it cares only about its own citizens,” etc. to end their imprisonment. It is an act of war that cannot go unchallenged.

Rita C. Tobin, another Times letter-writer, is on target when she writes, “The message to Hamas and those Palestinian civilians who are hiding Israeli hostages is clear: Israel will act to free those hostages, regardless of the cost.”

About Bruce Ticker

Bruce S. Ticker, who writes from Philadelphia, also blogs for The San Diego Jewish World and Smirking Chimp and previously for the suspended Philadelphia Jewish Voice. He was previously a reporter and copy editor for daily newspapers in eastern Pennsylvania.

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