Friday, January 02, 2009

Innocent victims?

The killing yesterday of Nizar Rayyan, a senior leader of Hamas, exemplifies the moral problem that Israel faces in attacking Gaza.

The Israeli Air Force on Thursday afternoon bombed the house of Nizar Rayyan, a senior Hamas leader, killing him along with his four wives and nine of his children, four of them under the age of 18, Palestinian hospital officials said. An Israeli military spokeswoman, Maj. Avital Leibovich, described Mr. Rayyan as one of the “most extreme” figures of Hamas, which controls Gaza. The military said he had helped plan a deadly suicide bombing in Israel in 2004, had sent his own son on a suicide mission against Jewish settlers in Gaza in 2001 and was advocating renewed suicide missions against Israel in retaliation for the current offensive.

Mr. Rayyan was known in Gaza as a highly influential figure with strong links to the military wing of Hamas, particularly in northern Gaza, where he lived, and as a popular Hamas preacher who openly extolled and championed the idea of martyrdom.

The Israeli military said in a statement that there were many secondary explosions after the air attack, “proving that the house was used for storing weaponry.” It was also used as a communications center, the statement said, and a tunnel that had been dug under the house was used by Hamas operatives.

Most Hamas leaders in Gaza have been in hiding since the Israeli operation began, but Mr. Rayyan was said to have refused to leave his home on ideological grounds. In the past, he had been known to gather supporters to stand on the rooftops of other houses in Gaza that Israel had threatened to strike.

When I first read this account and learned that Rayyan had sent his own son on a suicide mission, I was astonished and disgusted. He clearly cared nothing for the life of his own children. It seems that in this case also he deliberately ignored warnings that he was a target and left his own family open to the Israeli attack. It seems to me that he was a legitimate military target.

But the rest of his family? His wives and children? Did they deserve to die? Were they political figures in Hamas? The news reports don't say anything about the ages or activities of the children who were killed, so it's impossible to know if they were also part of Hamas. As for his wives - although there are some women who are political leaders in Hamas, and some have been suicide bombers - it's a fundamentalist political party that subordinates women to men.

So if we assume that his family was innocent - endangered only by the fact that they were related to him - is it ethical for Israel to target him, knowing that he was opposed to sending his family away to protect them?

Frankly, I have no idea.


  1. Of course he and his family are innocent victims.

    You are just another peace loving Jew who celebrate the death of other's children. as long as they don't have jewish blood.. and you don't know if they deserve to die or not???? are they really children like ours??

    Here is a picture of the children you are blogging in support of their murder.
    Picture 6, 8, 9 & 10 for Nizar Rayyan children..


  2. Do you think that I am celebrating either his death or that of his children? Read my post more carefully.

    His children were innocent, as were his wives. They certainly don't deserve to die. The question is whether Israel was justified in attacking him, knowing that his family would be killed alongside him.

    I've looked at the photos of the dead in Gaza. They are horrible.

    But Rayyan himself fought against Israel - as such, I think he was a legitimate military target. (As Israeli soldiers are also legitimate military targets for Hamas fighters). I'm talking here about the laws of war.

    The question for any army is what to do when the fighting is taking place among civilians, or is brought to civilian areas by the army. Civilians are not legitimate military targets.

  3. There is no war, open your eyes.
    Gaza is an occupied land, not a country Israel can attack and claim to be defending itself from ... etc... I'm talking in legal terms here.

    He is NOT a legitimate target, do you not know this is a violation of 4th Geneva convention which Israel has signed?

    If he did something illegal, send the police, arrest him and put him on trial, if you can't, .. he will be wanted until you can arrest him.

    Do you now know Israel is jailing 40 elected members of Hamas party? although it's wrong, but assassinating or or more of them is not legitimate...

    Even if he was in Egypt, which is a different country, and you have no jurisdictions to send the police. you still have to act proportionately, in other words, you can't kill 10 people in order to get one..

    It's a crime darling, anyway you look at it. it's a crime.

  4. I don't see how you can say there's no war - haven't you been watching the news for the last three weeks? A war does not have to occur between two separate countries - it can occur within a country (example: American Civil War). And what about Hamas? I think they would regard themselves as waging war against Israel, either by direct military means (rocketing southern Israeli towns or in other ways like suicide bombings). I understand that you oppose what Israel's doing, but your arguments strike me as very strange.

  5. I have no dobt you are a nice, kind hearted person,

    Zionist history is based on lies and propaganda, Read for avi Shalaim and Allan Pape if you wish to know.

    Have a good day. and sorry if I sounded strong.
    Seth, UK

  6. I'm well aware that the official Zionist narrative justifies the acts of the state of Israel, even if they are indefensible. I think that Benny Morris, Avi Shlaim, and Ilan Pappe and others have been vital to rewriting that history. But that doesn't mean that I think the Israeli government is the worst regime in history, which seems to be the emotional tone of your remarks.