The Big Story Podcast Castigates Israel For Rescuing Hostages In Gaza

June 19, 2024

The June 11 episode of The Big Story podcast entitled: “How does the war in Gaza end,” tackled the topic of the ongoing Israeli war against Hamas, with a particular focus on the recent rescue of four Israeli hostages which were being held in civilian homes. Asking the question of whether there is “still a way to end the bloodshed?,” the host, Robyn Simon, invited guest Khaled Elgindy, senior fellow at the Middle East Institute, to weigh in with his thoughts.

Simon began by relaying the now well-known casualty figures claimed by Hamas: that more than 200 Gazans were killed in a recent Israeli operation which rescued four hostages, with more than 400 claimed injured Palestinians.

Leaving aside the fact that these numbers were published almost immediately, and the reliability of those figures should be obviously suspect, there are bigger problems with the presentation of the topic. Of course, they don’t bother to mention how these Gazans were killed: because of the gun and artillery battle started by Hamas terrorists intended to prevent the rescue operation from taking place. A rescue operation that was – by necessity – located in the heart of a “refugee” camp, because that’s where the Israeli hostages were being held. They also don’t mention how many of those supposedly killed were Hamas fighters, and how many were civilians, a pertinent point given that the hostages were kept in a civilian apartment.

But therein lies the biggest question that those like our host never seem to take up – where is the line drawn between civilian and combatant when it comes to Gaza (and ultimately, in other urban theatres of war)? Can one really be considered a civilian if they are hiding Israeli hostages in their homes? Are they civilians if they take up arms to prevent the hostage rescue? And if we want to suggest that they are, and deserve the full protection usually afforded to civilians in times of war, how then can Israel ever defend itself? What is the point of drawing such meaningless distinctions to begin with, if no one is ever to be considered an enemy combatant?

The host did, however, ask one relevant question: how has nothing, in the past 8 months, led to a workable ceasefire? How exactly does this all eventually end? Predictably, if still disappointingly, Khaled characterized the breakdown of ceasefire talks as the fault of the Israelis, saying that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu prefers “for his own political reasons to continue the war.” Given that Israel has agreed to multiple ceasefire offers, while Hamas has ultimately rejected them, (and indeed were the ones to break the last temporary ceasefire back in November) this seems like a bafflingly dishonest take.

Indeed, in mid-June, it was reported that Hamas chief Yahya Sinwar said that negotiations were not to the Palestinian interest, claiming that the rising civilian casualties played into the narrative that the terror group is trying to construct, and that “we have the Israelis right where we want them.” Indeed, as reported by the Wall Street Journal, Sinwar has repeatedly said that there is no interest in stopping the war on the part of Hamas, regardless of the human cost to Palestinians.

That hardly sounds like the fault of the Israelis, and how one can come to that conclusion honestly is mind-boggling. The suggestion that the war will be “ended by diplomacy” is ludicrous given that one party is a terrorist group. The suggestion that any diplomatic negotiation can, or should, be undertaken with a group whose chief demand is the total extermination of Jews worldwide, is outrageous.

Khaled continued on, making the accusation more than once that while the Israelis are not ‘rejecting in words’ the ceasefire offers, they really have no intention of following through with them and so that’s why Hamas isn’t agreeing. Why Khaled would argue that it is Israel who has no intention of keeping to a ceasefire agreement, when again, it was Hamas who broke the last one by firing rockets at Israeli civilian populations within 15 minutes of the ceasefire coming into effect, is unclear. Perhaps Khaled is referring to the fact that Israel does not, in fact, intend to allow Hamas to achieve their stated goal of Jewish genocide? On that he would be correct, if not ghoulish for critiquing it.

Elgindy was the subject of a previous HRC alert back in 2015, where he characterized a wave of violence against Israeli civilians at the time as ‘fortunate’ because they were stabbings and not “using firearms we’ve seen that in the past.” Apparently, the type of delusion that sees Israel as the barrier to peace in the current situation also sees being stabbed to death as preferable to being shot to death.

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