Israel’s Extraordinary Efforts to Avoid Civilian Casualties Endanger Its Own Soldiers – Mort Klein Op-Ed in Israel Hayom, Israel’s Largest Newspaper
News Press Release
June 5, 2024

John Spencer, chair of urban warfare studies at West Point’s Modern War Institute, personally observed and wrote that, in order to prevent harm to Gazan civilians, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) “has telegraphed almost every move ahead of time so civilians can relocate, nearly always ceding the element of surprise.” Of course, Israel’s advance warnings to protect civilians also enable Hamas to reposition its senior leaders and Israeli hostages through its tunnels, and plan attacks that endanger Israel’s soldiers.

By Morton A. Klein

(June 5, 2024 / Israel Hayom) Sun Tzu, in The Art of War, wrote that surprise tactics are a major key to victory. The famed Chinese general and strategist advised: “Attack him where he is unprepared, appear where you are not expected”; “The spot where we intend to fight must not be made known; for then the enemy will have to [be able to] prepare against a possible attack at several different points”; “All warfare is based on deception”; “military devices, leading to victory, must not be divulged beforehand”; and “Begin by seizing something which your opponent holds dear; then he will be amenable to your will.”

On October 7, Hamas deployed these tactics: torturing and slaughtering 1,200 Israelis, wounding another 5,000 Israelis, and taking 250 hostages in Hamas’ brutal surprise attack. Similar to Sun Tzu’s tactics, surprise combined with overwhelming force and speed is the predominant method Western governments use to execute wars. But, Israel’s military offensive has been forgoing these vital elements of surprise, overwhelming force and speed in order to protect Gazan enemy civilians while endangering Israel’s own soldiers. (And Gaza’s enemy Arab civilians are not so innocent; 80% support Hamas, 90% support 10/7)

John Spencer, chair of urban warfare studies at West Point’s Modern War Institute personally observed and wrote that, in order to prevent harm to Gazan civilians, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) “has telegraphed almost every move ahead of time so civilians can relocate, nearly always ceding the element of surprise.” Of course, Israel’s advance warnings to protect civilians also enable Hamas to reposition its senior leaders and Israeli hostages through its tunnels, and plan attacks that endanger Israel’s soldiers.

Spencer recounted that Israel gave warnings, sometimes for weeks, for civilians to evacuate major northern Gazan areas before Israel launched its ground campaign; dropped over 7 million flyers, made over 70,000 direct phones calls, sent over 13 million text messages; left over 15 million voicemails; dropped speakers that broadcasted evacuation instructions; provided daily pauses and even provided daily military maps of upcoming combat areas to evacuate. Israel also uses drone and satellite imagery, cell phone presence and building damage assessments to avoid hitting civilians. These unprecedented measures have effectively kept the overwhelming majority of Gazan civilians out of harm’s way. No army in history has done more to protect enemy civilians.

Spencer also noted the IDF’s unique precautions to avoid civilian harm while rooting out Hamas terrorists illegally embedded in Al-Shifa hospital. The IDF brought along doctors, food, water and medical supplies for the civilians inside. Unheard of! The IDF also has “civilian harm mitigation units” who constantly work to prevent civilian harm. What other nation’s army has such a thing? And as the IDF confirms, “Very often, we give up some targets, despite our interests, simply because we are committed to minimizing the suffering of Gazan civilians.”

And in addition to facilitating deliveries of hundreds of truckloads of humanitarian aid every day; massive amounts of shelter equipment (tents, mattresses, blankets and hygiene products), the IDF also established an extensive medical aid infrastructure to treat Gazan enemy civilians . This includes eight large field hospitals; two medical ships docked at the Al-Arish port to support the field hospitals and enable staff rotation; and facilitating medical teams’ movement and evacuation of patients needing specialized care. Again, what other nation has done anything like this to protect enemy civilians?

Remarkably, Israel engages in all these enormous efforts to prevent civilian Gazan harm even though thousands of Gazan civilians joined in perpetrating atrocities against innocent Jews on October 7; many Gazan families are hiding Hamas’ weapons in their homes; and Hamas has been paying Gazan families to imprison Israeli hostages in their homes.

Judge Aharon Barak also detailed some of Israel’s extraordinary measures to protect civilians in his May 24, 2024 dissenting opinion in the baseless ICJ case that South Africa brought against Israel. Judge Barak noted that Israel “has taken measures to establish humanitarian zones where the civilian population may safely evacuate. The Al-Mawasi area has been designated as the principal, but not the only safe zone for the persons fleeing from Rafah. Israel provided evidence that the Al-Mawasi area is connected to the two main humanitarian routes in Gaza and to the new temporary pier (JLOTS). The Al-Mawasi area is not just “barren sand dunes.” According to Israel, it is connected to the Bani Suhueila water line, which Israel has helped to repair, and has water tanks, water pumps and desalination plants. It has also been reinforced with additional supplies of shelter, food and medicine, inter alia, and the construction of two field hospitals. On 12 May 2024, Israel announced another new field hospital in the Al-Mawasi area. This constitutes the eighth field hospital facilitated by Israel in Gaza since the beginning of the war. . .

Israel did not act in February. Instead, as Israel explained, it planned a military operation that would minimize the harm to enemy Arab civilians as much as possible.” West Point’s John Spencer concluded: “In my long career studying and advising on urban warfare for the U.S. military, I’ve never known an army to take such measures to attend to the enemy’s civilian population, especially while simultaneously combating the enemy in the very same buildings. In fact, by my analysis, Israel has implemented more precautions to prevent civilian harm than any military in history—above and beyond what international law requires and more than the U.S. did in its wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.”

Similarly, the former Commander of Britain’s forces in Afghanistan, Colonel Richard Kemp, observed Israel’s extraordinary measures to protect enemy Gaza civilians, explained that Israel is the world’s most moral army, and noted “Never in the history of warfare has an army phoned its enemy and told them where they are going to drop their bombs. Many IDF missions that could have taken out Hamas military capabilities were aborted to prevent civilian casualties, increasing the risk to Israeli citizens and soldiers. . . . No army takes such risks in order to protect civilians as the Israeli army does. I say this as a professional soldier. I say it because it’s true. And people who care about truth should know it.”

Yet the world gives Israel no credit for this unbelievable protection of enemy Gaza Arab civilians. More shocking is that the world, the UN, the media, universities, students, even America falsely and brazenly condemn Israel for genocide and for causing too many enemy civilian deaths. Will this breathtaking, undeserved propaganda blood libel against the Jewish state ever stop?

Morton A. Klein is the national president of the Zionist Organization of America.
This op-ed was originally published in Israel Hayom and can be viewed

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