“But… Hamas keep firing rockets!” Ladies, gentlemen, here is ye Elephant-in-the-Room

May 12, 2021

by Martin Odoni

As I type, Israel is embarking on yet another cruelly heavy-handed war against its tiny ‘off-shoot’ territory, the Gaza Strip. Missiles are tumbling out of the sky above Gaza as abundantly as rain tumbles on Glasgow. Buildings are being shattered to the ground, and reported by news outlets in the most cynically passive voice imaginable, to the point where the airstrikes sound like they are only indirectly related to the devastation. At least thirty-five Palestinians, including ten children, have died at the time of writing. UPDATE AT NOON UK TIME: Now forty-eight Palestinians, including fourteen children.

This latest set of savage atrocities is seen as a ‘proportional response’ by Western media and Governments, because the Palestinian Authority, controlled by Hamas, are supposedly firing rockets aplenty in the other direction. It is high time that the West started thinking about this claim, because the more you think about it, the less sense it makes.

Now, let me be clear, I am not denying that rockets are fired into Israel from the Gaza Strip – they certainly are – and, yes, in all probability it is Hamas ordering them. But there is a certain reality that is not conveyed in the commonly-upheld “fault-on-both-sides” narrative.

The missiles launched from Israel into Gaza are in plentiful supply. They are built to high industry standards, using modern, up-to-date technology, with the best materials that the USA, the European Union and the UK arms manufacturers can obtain. They are sleek, fast-moving, and have precision guidance systems and powerful explosive warheads.

The rockets launched from Gaza into Israel are in intermittent supply, and are home-made junk. They are built with whatever materials are available, which are low-quality and scantily available. They are overly-heavy, with under-powered propulsion systems, which means they are slow-moving. They have no guidance systems whatsoever, and because real explosives are extremely difficult to obtain, the “warheads” tend to be canisters loaded with petrol or engine oil. A victim would have to stand more or less at ground zero to suffer serious injury.

There is fault on both sides. But very, very far from equal fault on both sides

Some of the Gazan rockets do not even explode on impact. Even when they do, nine times out of ten, due to the enormous difficulty involved in aiming the rockets, it is something of a small miracle when they manage actually to hit a city. And I do not mean the target city, I mean any city at all. A comically high proportion of these contraptions will land several miles outside any settlements, making the panicky over-reactions of Israelis look, frankly, a little weedy.

Even when rockets do hit the target and explode, which is rare indeed, the slowness of the impact and the modesty of the ‘explosive’ payload means the effects do not exactly replicate Hiroshima. Far from it. They tend to leave a crater in the ground roughly the size of a wheel that has fallen off a Morris Minor, and the actual explosion rather less resembles the destruction of Dresden, than it resembles an unusually lively Guy Fawkes’ Night in Eastbourne. The rockets are not mere fireworks, but they are in the same ballpark.

The rockets Hamas launch, in short, are near-as-damn-it useless in modern warfare. In fact, they would only have been slightly effective back in the days of the Third Reich.

This should be obvious and easy to deduce, because of the current circumstances of Gaza. The territory is largely cut off from the outside world, with most of its population sealed in behind large walls and fences on the boundary with Israel. The boundary is patrolled by heavily-armed Israeli Defence Force soldiers. The boundary walls in particular are a major obstacle to the occupants of Gaza just from living a dignified life, as it prevents them from accessing various resources that they need to enter Israel to purchase.

Unfortunately, logic and Zionism have very little overlap

So, here is the question that the “What-about-the-rockets-Hamas-fire-at-Israel?!?!” crowd never pause to ponder. If the rocket-launching capability Hamas possesses is even one-tenth as dangerous as the Israelis always insist it is, why do the Palestinians never use it against the boundary walls and fences sealing them in Gaza? A couple of years back we heard about large numbers of Palestinian protesters approaching the boundary fences on ‘Land Day,’ but why do we never hear stories of the IDF patrols getting showered in super-powerful guided missiles from the heart of Gaza? Why, given what a huge obstruction it is to the life of Gaza, does the boundary wall never get a liberal bombardment of heavy-explosive rocket-fire to bring it down?

It is not because Hamas are trying not to provoke Israel – that suggestion makes no sense at all. If Hamas are not prepared to risk Israel’s wrath by firing at the boundary itself, why would they risk Israel’s wrath by firing at (and usually missing) Jerusalem, Tel Aviv or Haifa? Destroying the wall and the boundary sentries would be strategically far, far more useful than knocking a hole in the pavement next to a Judaica market stall in Eilat.

No, it is because that capability is not there. If it were, the boundary walls and other so-called ‘defences’ on the Israel-Gaza boundary would not be there today, while destruction done to Israeli cities by Palestinian attacks would be far more extensive than anything seen in Israel since the 1940s.

The people of Jerusalem are likelier to get hit by a deadly projectile when they play darts

Time to brain up a bit, people of the West. You are being lied to about the degree of threat Palestinians pose to Israel, and have been for generations.

3 Responses to ““But… Hamas keep firing rockets!” Ladies, gentlemen, here is ye Elephant-in-the-Room”

  1. no longer used Says:

    Not a criticism of your piece at all, but it would be helpful to know the actual casualty figures – deaths and serious injuries on both sides. The usual pattern seems to be about 10 to 1 ie 10 dead Gazans to 1 slightly injured israeli

    • Martin Odoni Says:

      That would take a long time to calculate, and depend on whether you want figures for the whole conflict, or only for parts of it. Overall, I would expect the ratios to be a deal more lopsided than 10 : 1.

      For instance, we have figures for 2014’s 51-Day War. 73 Israelis were killed, including just six civilians – one of whom was a Thai, and therefore technically not even Israeli. The Palestinians lost between 2,125 (Israeli estimate) and 2,310 (Hamas estimate), with 70% of the losses being civilians.

      We’ll go with the lower figure just out of fairness, although I would have thought that Hamas would be likelier to know the true total.

      The ratio comes out at over 29 : 1.


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