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Israel and Palestine both claim that the other side kills “innocent civilians” (nobody speaks up for the “guilty civilians”, of course—but I suppose what they mean is “women and children, in particular”).

I think that all people aged between 16 and 65 are legitimate targets on both sides—so that most people killed in the conflict, by either side, are legitimate targets.

I say that because Israel works by mass conscription of both sexes and across roughly those age groups, with citizen soldiers often still armed at home. Israel just held a massive call-up in the recent crisis; and so, in effect, everyone of military age is implicated in warfare in some respect—except those ultra-religious Jews who refuse military service altogether, but who, in fact, hunker down in their schools in these circumstances.

As for the Palestinians, the guerrilla swims among the people like a fish in water—Hamas militants fight in striped Puma jogging trousers and, in those circumstances, everyone helps out where they can (provides a room in their house to have a tunnel entrance, carries ammunition in a private car). That’s just how it goes—hence, in effect, the population is the army.

What this means is that most people on either side are legitimate targets (in my view, perhaps international law differs—but this is just my common-sense view).

Hence, propaganda aside, you shouldn’t get too upset or angry if shown “the victims of Hamas” or “civilian houses destroyed by Israel”. Words like “victims”, “murder”, and “innocent civilians” are thrown about by both sides to create the impression that the enemy routinely violates moral-legal norms, but these generally don’t apply. Genuine “victims” are the elderly, children (under 16), and pregnant women (far from the majority of casualties, or even the casualties we are shown).


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