One of the recurring themes in the complex discussion over the Israeli Palestine conflict, which resumed this week after some peace talks in Egypt, is the issue of whether Hamas is deliberately placing it’s rockets near to civilians in order to protect the launch crew and win a propaganda war by deliberately endangering civilians.
This is very serious claim from Israel, if true then it justifies the use of weapons to destroy the rockets, equipment and soldiers they say are in these areas. If false, then it suggests that Israel is in fact conducting deliberate attacks on civilians.
There are perhaps other possible truths but this is how the debate seems to go, and frankly I do not know better than the pundits on TV. The Israeli conflict is not something I could claim to have detailed knowledge of. Recognising I am not alone in having only a very rudimentary understanding of the situation I have even asked Paul Marks to come back to the meetup and explain some of the earlier history. Yet returning to today, it does seem as if the claims can be verified, if perhaps at great effort, by diligent and brave journalism or by UN investigations, or some action of that kind. I am, however, not the UN and I do not blog for a newspaper. I’m just me, and what fact checking can I do?
Well, some. In particular I keep hearing, from people apparently sympathetic to Palestinians, if not to Hamas, that the Gaza strip is so dense that it is inevitable that rockets must be launched from near civilians. Well it seems that might be true, but it depends what you mean by “near”. You might never be far from a dwelling or farm building in Gaza but looking at Google satellite images it is very obvious that Gaza has fields. Actually it has lots of fields, and orchards, and glass houses for crops, and they appear all around the country.
Take a look:
This seems to be a problem for the argument that Hamas has no choice but to launch from near to civilians. There are fields, so the option to launch from a field exists.