LUBBOCK, Texas — Linsey Davis has experienced the pain in Israel firsthand, after her 12 and 16-year-old sons, were abducted Saturday by Hamas militants.
Her two sons were in the safe room at their father’s home when the militants burst in. Davis said has been unable to sleep or eat, haunted by the last words she heard before a phone call from her children was cut off.
“They’re holding innocent civilians, I want the world to know that war has rules even war has rules,” Davis said.
Geoffrey Corn serves as the George R. Killam, Jr. chair of Criminal law and Director of the Center for Military Law and Policy at Texas Tech’s School of Law. Corn has studied the rules Davis mentioned for years. He admits Israel has not had the perfect policies or government, not to mention a long-standing conflict with Palestine.
Corn said the stand against Israel’s treatment of Palestine is no excuse for what is going on in Israel, telling us Hamas is violating the rules of war.
“None of that justifies violating the most basic rules of war, you don’t attack civilians,” Corn said. “You care for the wounded and sick, you treat the people you capture humanely and you try your best to minimize the risk to civilians when you’re conducting operations. “
Hamas has been operating in the Gaza Strip since 2007, carrying out its military operation in response to atrocities that Palestinians say they have faced over decades.
Corn warned viewers that as news continues coverage, the number of people hurt on both sides will rise and be on full display.
“Be careful about deciding who’s acting legally or illegally just by the effects of combat,” Corn said. “If the state is the victim of an actual or imminent unlawful attack, the state is entitled to use proportional military force to defend itself.”
Corn also said the location of this warzone is a part of the strategic plan. With millions living in densely populated areas, it makes it harder to ensure civilians are not caught in the crossfire.
“It complicates the battle, It endangers civilians and endangers your forces, and Hamas knows this,” Corn said. “So Hamas has embedded its most vital assets among the civilian population.”
Corn mentions that it is not uncommon for civilians to be sacrificed for the potential of eliminating a threat that can kill many more.
“The way international law works is that commanders who decide on launching attacks are prohibited from intending to attack civilians,” Corn said. “The law does not prohibit causing civilian casualties, so long as you’re attacking a legitimate target and you make an assessment that the value of destroying that target outweighs the risk to the civilian population, this is a sad reality of combat.”
Corn said that based on the rules of war, Israel currently has the right to respond.
“That’s what the Israeli Defense Force is facing now, but let me simplify this as much as I can, Israel has a right to eliminate the threat to its population,” Corn said. “If that means it has to go into Gaza to root out Hamas and destroy its capability, International law recognizes that.”
Corn argues that although it may have started as a stand for justice, it turned into something tragic.
“From my experience working with the Israeli Defense Force and their legal experts, they take these obligations seriously,” Corn said. “Don’t fall into the trap of false moral equivalence… You have one side of this conflict that is adopting barbaric tactics, kidnaping civilians, summarily executing people, kidnaping children, hunting civilians and you have another side of the conflict that’s going to do its level best to defeat the enemy in a way that minimizes the risk to the civilian population.”
Corn said as we watch this unfold on our screens and from afar, sympathy can go both ways, but not for those deliberately out to kill bystanders.
“As frustrating as it may seem that you have people who cheer when an Israeli soldier was killed, you can’t allow that to take you down that road that every civilian deserves to suffer,” Corn said.
“We should be empathetic to the plight of the Palestinians in Gaza, We should be empathetic to the plight of the Israeli civilians in Israel, The group that deserves no sympathy is Hamas and their Iranian sponsors.”
For Linsey, she hopes sympathy can be felt for not just her sons, who were taken hostage, but for everyone who wants the same thing.
“I’m begging for one mother to other mothers in every country in the world, but think what it would be like if it was their child, even mothers in Gaza want a normal life, I’m sure,” Davis said.