The myth of Gaza’s ‘innocent’ majority


The myth of Gaza’s ‘innocent’ majority

So far, not a single civilian in the terrorist enclave has opted to be categorized as a member of the “Righteous Among the Nations.”

It’s time to dispel the myth that Gaza is filled with innocent civilians. In the first place, the residents of the enclave are responsible for Hamas’s takeover in 2007.

Second, their brethren in the Palestinian Authority are hungry to copy the move in Judea and Samaria (the West Bank), despite years of ample evidence of what life is like under Hamas’s reign of terror.

Third, no disgruntlement on the part of either populace has replaced antisemitism. On the contrary, the worse their plight, the more they cling to the lie that the Jewish state, from its inception in 1948, is to blame.

In fairness, it’s tough for people who imbibe jihadist ideology with their mothers’ milk to engage in critical thinking when they come of age. In this respect, they’re victims—of their upbringing, not Israel’s existence. Certainly not of its policies, which have been nothing but magnanimous over the decades. Suicidally so.

Indeed, concern for the welfare of noncombatant human shields has not only led to the death of far too many Israel Defense Forces soldiers, it’s been preventing the IDF from defeating Hamas.

Palestinians shopping at a market next to destroyed buildings in Deir al-Balah, in the central Gaza Strip, May 31, 2024. Photo by Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90.
(source: JNS)

Ironically, much of the hesitance emanates from the military itself. Having the most stringent rules of engagement—to the point of referring to the phenomenon as “purity of arms”—does tend to make it more difficult to conduct warfare, particularly on such an asymmetric battlefield as Gaza.

Nor are such directives conducive to deterring the country’s numerous other enemies. This is the Middle East, after all, where strength is revered and weakness scorned. Just ask any Gazan.

Speaking of which, stories emerging from freed hostages and survivors of the Oct. 7 massacre illustrate just how “innocent” the “civilians” in the Strip actually are. Take 75-year-old Ada Sagi, for instance.

Abducted from Kibbutz Nir Oz on that Black Sabbath eight months ago—and released on Nov. 28 as part of a deal to exchange hostages for Palestinian terrorists in Israeli jails—she was held for 53 days by a Gazan family with children. Sagi told Channel 12 News on Sunday that money was their motive.

According to Sagi, Hamas is paying Gazan civilians a daily wage to guard hostages—up to 70 shekels ($19) per capita. She gleaned this from witnessing Israeli cash being delivered to her captor and by verifying it with him.

Ada Sagi from Kibbutz Nir Oz in southern Israel. Photo: Courtesy. (source: JNS)

He explained that he “wants a better future” for his children and wife. “I want to buy visas and not stay here; I want to go to Europe,” he said, adding, “I am uninvolved.”

She asked him how he could call himself “uninvolved” while keeping her prisoner. For this, the poor “noncombatant” had no answer.

Then there’s 21-year-old Mia Shem, who was kidnapped from the Nova music festival and released on Nov. 30, after 55 days in captivity.

“Everyone in Gaza is a terrorist,” she recounted in TV interviews, with a cast on her arm. Upon her return to Israel, she underwent corrective surgery to repair the damage that had been done by a crude operation performed by a terrorist—without anesthesia.

She described being shot on Oct. 7 and, while bleeding profusely, sexually assaulted. Then she was dragged by her hair into a car headed for Gaza. There, after having her arm basically butchered, she was placed with a family.

The man of the house stayed in a room with her, while his jealous wife denied her food. The couple’s young son entered occasionally to taunt her with sweets he wouldn’t let her eat.

“It’s important for me to reveal the truth about the people who live in Gaza,” she stressed, “about who they really are.”

Itai Shabi also scoffed at the idea that most Gazans are “uninvolved.”

The married father of four-year-old twins miraculously survived the assault on Kibbutz Be’eri by hiding with his wife and children for five hours under the branches of a tree in his yard, and another six in the crevice of a nearby bush. This was after spending four hours in the house’s bomb shelter, before escaping through a window when the perpetrators threw a burning tire into the room’s air vent.

It wasn’t until 8 p.m. that IDF soldiers came to the family’s rescue. According to Shabi, all the other troops were taken out by Nukhba terrorists while making their way to the area.

Still, he told Channel 14 last week, Gazan civilians were the ones committing the real atrocities that day. The Nukhba commanders in Hamas garb were overseeing the carnage.

“The ones not in uniform murdered my neighbors, killed my dog and did other unmentionables,” he said, noting that among the many Israelis slaughtered that day by “noncombatants” were his wife’s parents.

The above tales are anecdotal. Yet it’s a fact that only terrorists captured and interrogated by the Israel Security Agency have provided information on the whereabouts of hostages. No Gazan “civilians” have come forward to do so voluntarily.

The argument that they fear Hamas repercussions simply doesn’t cut it anymore, however. Even in Nazi Germany there were citizens who risked their lives to do the conscionable thing. Yad Vashem created a special title for such gentiles—The Righteous Among the Nations—who protected Jews at great peril to themselves.

So far, not a single Gazan fits that bill, despite encouragement in Israel and abroad. On Jan. 27 this year, in honor of International Holocaust Remembrance Day, video appeals to the people of Gaza from family members of Righteous Among the Nations were screened at a “Never Again is Now” rally at “Hostages Square” in Tel Aviv.

“Just as our parents, against all odds, saved Jews and risked their lives in the face of the Nazis, so too you, residents of Gaza, can save the lives of the hostages and be written in the history books as having chosen the right side,” they urged.

It was a worthy effort, but it didn’t work, because the residents of Gaza have chosen otherwise.

** This article was originally published on JNS.org **

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