Israel’s awaited ground invasion of Gaza appears to be in motion. The IDF announced the expansion of the war effort would begin late Friday, three weeks after Hamas infiltrated Israel and killed more than 1,400 people and took another 200-plus hostage. It was the worst attack on Israeli soil in its history and touched off a global campaign of violence against Jews. It was also carried out in the most gruesome manner possible. A meaningful Israeli response was necessary, and an IDF victory is vital to the restoration of not just Israeli morale and deterrence but that of the free West.
A ground war will put Gazan hospitals at the center of attention because, as Jonathan Schanzer explained in detail, Hamas uses some of them, such as Al Shifa, as major command centers. Media, NGOs, and politicians will call for Israel to resupply hospital compounds, especially with fuel. This essentially means there will be public pressure to pause hostilities in order to supply Hamas’s military command centers and bases while Israel is attempting to subdue them. These calls are disingenuous and the people making them often know that. It’s crucial to point this out as more Israeli troops head into Gaza.
The headline atop the New York Times’ Thursday edition of its “Morning Briefing” newsletter was: “Gaza Is Running Out of Fuel.” Similar headlines appeared this week in the BBC and ABC News and others.
But Gaza, in fact, isn’t running out of fuel. Gazans are.
But the New York Times already knows that. Today, it reports: “Hamas has hundreds of thousands of liters of fuel for vehicles and rockets; caches of ammunition, explosives and materials to make more; and stockpiles of food, water and medicine, the officials said. A senior Lebanese official said the militants, who are estimated to number between 35,000 and 40,0000, had enough stocked away to keep fighting for three to four months without resupply.”
These reports are valuable mostly for the purpose of estimating how much fuel Hamas has in its stocks, not whether it is hoarding fuel at all. While the headlines for over a week have warned of dwindling fuel supplies for hospitals, there has never been any indication that Hamas is running out of fuel for its weaponry. Ordinary Gazans may have ever-more limited access to electricity, but Hamas’s vast underground labyrinth of tunnels and command centers appears to have plenty. Hamas’s subterranean city does not run on fairy dust and willpower.
Hamas is well-stocked because it has lots of money. Some of that money comes from Qatari aid facilitated by Israel. Some of it, NBC News reports, comes from Hamas’s penchant for corruption and looting: “Hamas imposes unofficial fees on smuggled goods and other activity, for a combined income of up to $450 million per year.” And the remainder likely comes from “drug smuggling.”
Hamas’s fuel plundering is also responsible for the lack of drinking water. Gaza gets more of its electricity than its water from Israel and produces the rest with diesel-powered generators. That electricity is essential to desalination so Gazans can have drinkable water.
This is a recipe for a humanitarian crisis created by Hamas. And as that crisis deepens, Hamas will simply let its people die. And despite knowing all this, media and activists and politicians will blame Israel. In the same New York Times story in which reporters detail Hamas’s hoarding, readers will find one of the most astounding sentences in modern times: “Hamas’s stockpiles raise questions about what responsibility, if any, it has to the civilian population.”
I’m sorry, what? Hamas’s status as the elected government of Gaza may not mean we can assume broad support among the population for the worst of its excesses, but I’m pretty sure it does mean we can assume it is the elected government of Gaza. And that means it has at least some responsibility not to murder everyone in the strip.
Misinformation and disinformation are problems, and they will only grow larger as Israel’s counteroffensive ramps up. But there’s another, larger problem here: Many of the correctly informed will continue to brazenly disregard accurate information if it means they can blame the Jews. And that will be increasingly important to remember in the coming days.