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Israel-Gaza Megathread #2

This is a refreshed megathread for any posts on the conflict between (so far, and so far as I know) Hamas and the Israeli government, as well as related geopolitics. Culture War thread rules apply.

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How much should I read into the fact that nations which have condemned Israel’s treatment of Gaza have not offered to accept any Palestinian refugees?

It strikes me as deeply cynical that the nation with the most obligation to do well by them is the one that a huge swath of the Islamic world considers the great evil.

How much of current homicidal anti-Semitic sentiment across the Islamic world is because Jews settled Palestine? I can understand if they think Israel has to atone for this, but I suspect Palestine is simply a wedge issue that the Islamic world considers useful ammunition against Jews.

How much should I read into the fact that nations which have condemned Israel’s treatment of Gaza have not offered to accept any Palestinian refugees?

There's the obvious self-interested explanations. But it's also worth remembering that they did take in refugees before and the seeming result is that they'll never go back.

This is not just a civil war or natural disaster. It's an ethnic struggle for land.

There's a real fear that taking them as refugees not only saddles you with a poor population infiltrated with troublesome radicals, but that it creates an incentive for certain people to seek a more permanent solution to the Palestinian issue.

I frequently see people in the West calling for Hamas to release the hostages or complaining that other people aren't calling on Hamas to release the hostages.

I don't see the point behind this. Hamas doesn't care what people in the west are calling for. Secondly, it's hard to imagine what Israel can be expected to give them in exchange for the hostages considering that Hamas already killed 1400, and they can't give those lives back. Furthermore, if Israel does make a ceasefire in exchange for the hostages, it rewards Hamas for taking hostages in the first place, which is not something anyone wants.

Ironically, I think that if people in the west are calling on Israel to make a ceasefire, but not on Hamas to release the hostages, it's a sign that they're more aligned with Israel than with Hamas because they seem to feel like they have agency over Israel's actions. Meanwhile, they feel no agency over Hamas's actions, which is why they don't call on Hamas to do anything. To them, Hamas might as well be an animal that you can't expect it to not attack because attacking is in it's nature.

Hamas doesn't care what people in the west are calling for.

Actually they do. I suppose they don’t particularly care what the student Union of OMG-Who-The-Hell-Cares State University is calling for, but they definitely care that The White House pressured Israel into allowing humanitarian aid shipments from Egypt.

You are right that calling for Hamas to release the hostages is more of a rhetorical strategy than a realizable demand. What it does is remind everyone that the continued existence of the Hamas government of the Gaza Strip is a massive net negative on the rest of the world, that they won’t even release innocent civilian hostages captured in a terrorist attack without major concessions, that their refusal to comply with the most basic standards of decency places them in the Hobbesian state of nature, where the clear best course of action is to let them die of cholera in their own filth without access to outside food, water, electricity, or fuel.

they won’t even release innocent civilian hostages captured in a terrorist attack without major concessions,

Sorry, but this is misinformation. Hamas did actually release two hostages without major concessions (at least publicly, maybe the IDF struck a deal behind the scenes).

Release 2 but keep hundreds? Is that really a counter or just something they did to make it look like they could be a reasonable party.

Aren’t they still holding innocent civilians? That’s like Madoff saying I’m not guilty I gave 2% back.

Is that really a counter

Yes, it is a counter to the claim that they won't release innocent civilian hostages without major concessions, because they observably did. It does nothing to address the claim that they never took hostages and are innocent of such an act, but nobody claimed that so it doesn't have to.

Not exactly. They won’t release the vast majority. It’s like taking 1002 hostages when you wanted a 1000 so now people like you do some technicality.

Yes, they didn't release the main bulk of their hostages without getting concessions - i.e. the same approach that Israel takes. You can't really condemn them for that without also condemning Israel, which is why the fact that they actually released two hostages without any concessions is notable and worth mentioning.

They were paid in propaganda and media coverage obviously. And got someone to be on tv begging for the release of I believe her husband whose still captivity.

I know they released the Americans (lol, could they get any more transparent?)

This is probably due to the SEAL teams and Delta Force units sitting off their coast. America has a long history of hostage rescue of American Citizens in war zones, so releasing US hostages is just self-preservation.

Strong "I am Roman citizen" energy.

They released the two Americans, and two elderly Israeli women. Only one of them gave an interview.

The point is signaling political affiliation to other Westerners.

right. may as well ask why people are putting up posters of the hostages in america/england/other not-gaza places, or why other people are tearing them down.

More on the hospital blast. NYTimes Visual Investigations is now issuing a debunk on the supposed “lynchpin evidence” in the American and Israeli intelligence finding. A thread from NYT’s Aric Toler (previously Bellingcat) —

Israeli and U.S. intelligence officials believe that a projectile captured on videos shortly before the Ahli Arab Hospital explosion was a Palestinian rocket. nytimes Visual Investigations found that this object was launched from Israel, and likely unrelated to the deadly blast.

An IDF spokesperson went on CNN and the BBC with a printed-out screenshot from an Al Jazeera livestream showing this projectile, claiming it was the rocket that hit the hospital. We also believe that American officials are incorrectly assessing this to be a Palestinian rocket

this projectile launch from the north, south, east and west. By drawing lines of perspective, three of which can be seen here, we assessed that this project was launched from near the Israeli city of Nahal Oz.

Three days before the blast, a 155mm illumination shell, commonly used by the Israeli military and not in use by Palestinian militias, was fired into the Al-Ahli Hospital. Hospital administrators said that they had received warnings from the IDF telling them to evacuate.

Our analysis does not answer what actually did cause the blast or who was responsible, but it does undercut one of the most-publicized pieces of evidence used by both American and Israeli officials.

The NYTimes article is archived here: https://archive.ph/ngGpq

I hope we will eventually find out what caused the blast. This NYTimes article might wind up confirming my bias that we shouldn’t trust the immediate Israeli/American intel.* Interestingly, the NYTimes conclusion is based on a relatively obscure twitter thread by some random researcher on the 19th. So a +1 for twitter, I guess.

[edit + wording change*] small update, Le Monde agrees with the NYT assessment of the projectile.

On an off-topic note, the mention of Visual Investigations brings back memories to me. I remember finding that series on the NYT's Youtube channel a couple of years ago, and later watching a bunch of parts. I thought they were generally good, and the responses on YT were also generally favorable. But whenever they released a video on subjects deeply triggering to the Blue Tribe audience, like the Capitol "insurrection" and the Rittenhouse incident, it always ended up being obviously biased, and the responses on YT were accordingly dismissive and negative in usual.

The last part I've seen was the one on the Bucha Massacre, and while it seemed convincing and high-quality overall, I found it strange that 1. they identified an airborne unit as the perpetrators even though the overall mainstream consensus had been for months that a completely different unit was responsible 2. the entire argument of the video hinged on using one piece of supposedly captured Russian army document as evidence, which seemed suspect 3. they presented drone and CCTV footage as newly available sensational evidence, even though it was obvious that all that footage have been available to the Ukrainian authorities for almost a year at that point.

The big picture here is that Hamas claimed a hospital was bombed by Israel and 500-800 people were killed. Mainstream outlets, including NYT, ran with that narrative. A hospital was not bombed and I don't think there is a credible estimate on deaths. The downstream effects of this misinformation included widespread anti-Israel demonstrations in the Middle East and cancelled meetings between Arab and Western countries. The NYT faced a lot of backlash over this and isn't exactly a disinterested party. Israel being responsible for the blast would help them save some face.

Let's say the NYT knew everything it knows now. Would "parking lot bombed, 30 people killed" have caused this much ruckus. Instead, ISRAEL BOMBS HOSPITAL is what is anchored in the minds of Middle Easterners.

I’d like to point out that this is just a media motte-and-bailey.

Bailey: Israel intentionally bombs hospital, hundreds dead!

Motte 1, new bailey: Israel accidentally bombs hospital parking lot, maybe some dead?

Motte 2, for when Motte 1 fails: The IDF showed a video that maybe isn’t from this incident. No mention of casualties.

There was a blast in the inner courtyard of the hospital where patients, families, children, and women were sleeping. You are free, I suppose, to not consider this “the hospital has been bombed”. But it’s just as morally significant. And, of course, on the 15th an Israeli artillery strike did hit the hospital.

It’s true that we don’t know the precise death toll. I’m hoping that the hospital workers come out with an authoritative statement on that. The Anglicans who oversee the hospital confirm hundreds of mostly women and children have died however. So perhaps 200, perhaps as high as 400? We don’t know for sure.

What makes you think "hospital workers" will be given the freedom to come up with an authoritative statement that is independent of Hamas' messaging on this? Did Hamas allow 3rd party investigators in to survey the blast, collect shrapnel fragments, etc? If this were an Israeli strike, isn't it in their interest to allow outsiders to investigate the site?

What I would like to know (and currently do not) is whether there were British Anglicans who visited and/or worked at the hospital at the time of the blast. The Anglicans have put out official statements per above, and they most likely have consulted with the hospital workers they employ. But if there are British Anglicans who can testify “yes I saw *x bodies” that’s the best evidence we will get IMHO. For the record, I don’t think anyone should trust either Hamas or Israel/US assessments on casualties given the obvious conflict of interest. The question of whether we can trust the Palestinians who work in the hospital as doctors is a separate but interesting question, too.

A hospital was not bombed and I don't think there is a credible estimate on deaths.

Come on, if a parking garage at a hospital was bombed, especially if there was a congregation of people seeking treatment or refuge, it would be considered a hospital bombing. It was part of the facility.

I think the point is “Israel bombs hospital, 500 dead” and “hospital parking lot fire causes 30 wounded” differ both in scale, blame, and incendiariness

This is the point. There is no way this becomes a major international story that dominates discourse if we knew what we know today about the location and size of the blast. But the misinformation got out and we're dealing with the fallout.

If it were 30 wounded and 0 dead then yeah that would be significant.

But my point is that there's a difference between the immediate reaction of the Press reporting breaking news out of Gaza, when they have no opportunity to have reporters on the ground, and the reports from the supposedly "independent investigations" which all concluded the same incorrect thing all based on the same error in interpretation of the same piece of evidence. I maintain it's more significant that the Press was systematically all wrong in the same direction in their "independent investigations" than it is that they reported the Hamas-claimed death toll with varying degrees of qualification.

yes agreed. To me, it brings all kinds of doubts to other Gaza death tolls too

This NYTimes article proves once again that we should not trust Israel’s assessments or American intelligence assessments on Israel.

This language falls on the wrong side of the "consensus building" line. Speculative analysis by an American news organization (or Twitter randos, or known terrorist sympathizers, or...) may or may not be more reliable than official reports from American or Israeli governments; you and others are free to make the argument either way. But this NYT article does not appear to prove anything, must less prove anything that has already been proven (i.e. "once again"). While you do not actually write the words "everyone knows," you do not present the matter as open to discussion, instead treating certain matters as clearly settled. Your engagement on the topic (which is rapidly approaching "single issue poster" status) does not communicate any willingness to entertain the possibility that you might be wrong. Rather, your rhetoric here looks like an attempt to build a consensus about what "we" should think on a question that is open (and may, given the circumstances, forever remain open). That is a way of waging the culture wars instead of discussing them, and is against the rules here.

Fair point, it is my assertion or opinion that America / Israel routinely lie about intelligence regarding strikes, misfires, etc. Next time I’ll link to scholars who agree with my assertion and preface it as such.

single issue poster

Hmm, would you say someone who exclusively posts about D Day in a WWII thread to be “single issue”? Or the bombing of Nagasaki in a WWII thread? The hospital strike is the second most important event in the whole conflict, the first being the actual Hamas invasion. It was front page news for about four days and a major point of discussion. It’s entirely possible that this is the wrong forum to be discussing one of the two most important topics of the conflict, but that wouldn’t be because it’s not worthy of discussion. It would probably be for less rigid and more human reasons.

I can’t help but remember what you replied to me in my last post on this issue:

This strikes me as complete FUD. Every claim I've seen suggesting this was anything other than Hamas weaponry (whether as a false flag or just incompetence, who knows) appears primarily based on "but I want it to have been Israel, so let's imagine the possibilities, shall we?"

This was accusing me, or at least my information, as intentionally false. Then you aimed to build consensus with a “claims suggesting anything other than Hamas are primarily based around fantasy”. You didn’t provide any source, of course. But some of that information I posted has been reinforced by a major NYTimes piece.

Hmm, would you say someone who exclusively posts about D Day in a WWII thread to be “single issue”?

At some point, sure. Depending on how often they posted about it, whether their posts ever really added interesting information or just flogged the same dead horse repeatedly while showing no interest in entertaining the possibility that they might be mistaken, etc.

This was accusing me, or at least my information, as intentionally false.

While it is possible that you or your sources are lying, that is neither what I said nor what I meant. I suggested that the people I see making these claims appear mostly to be wishcasting, and as far as I can tell that remains true. I don't know if you're a propagandist or just a useful tool to someone who is, but you have shown no interest I can see in discussing the hospital incident with anything approaching epistemic humility--only in spreading a particular slant on it. Either of us, or both of us, could be mistaken about what is actually happening--that's not the point. For purposes of the rules, your problem is that you're not writing in a way that is sufficiently open to that possibility.

Then you aimed to build consensus

No, you apparently don't know what "build consensus" means in this context. I never made any claims about what "we" believe (or should believe), or treated my interpretation of events as anything but my interpretation of events--hence phrases like "strikes me," "I've seen," and "appears primarily."

I definitely have a substantive view on these matters, which I expressed to you previously. But that is a separate thing from the way you have approached your rhetoric here.

It seems pretty clear it wasn't THAT rocket which caused the explosion at the hospital; that was a malfunctioning rocket that blew up in mid-air. I don't share the NYTs confidence that THAT rocket was Israeli; their analysis seems to have enough uncertainty to place it on either side of the border. Anyway, I'm sure if a Tamir had hit the hospital, Hamas would be parading the pieces through the streets by now.

Their "debunk" is nonsensical, however. They claim their analysis contradicts a US intelligence assessment that the video showed a Palestinian rocket undergoing catastrophic motor failure and then crashing onto hospital grounds. But if you follow the claim, not only is the US intelligence assessment just an anonymous source, but it fails to specify that it was these particular videos they analyzed.

Anyway, I'm sure if a Tamir had hit the hospital, Hamas would be parading the pieces through the streets by now.

This is really is the most important piece of evidence. Within minutes of the blast, this was international news. If it had been an Israeli missile, wouldn't Hamas be highly incentivized to allow Western investigators full access to the debris the next day? Have they done anything like this? If instead, they hastily scrubbed the area of any evidence, that points to them being responsible.

someone did clear the area of evidence. We can assume it’s not IDF since it’s in Gaza and ground invasion hasn’t started, who could possibly have a vested interest here….

Hamas is either covering up evidence or they're missing a golden PR opportunity.

Didn't CNN, the AP, and the WSJ, et al. all rely on this video as a "key piece of evidence" for their conclusion? And this video was cited by IDF spokesman in media interviews.

A key video in the analysis came shortly before 7 p.m. local time, when the Arabic-language news channel Al Jazeera was airing live coverage of the Gaza City skyline. As a correspondent speaks, the camera pans to zoom in on a volley of rockets being fired from the ground nearby.

Didn't CNN, the AP, and the WSJ, et al. all rely on this video as a "key piece of evidence" for their conclusion?

So one media company says one thing and others says another? So what? Some angles of the hospital explosion show two explosions; it seems likely one was this rocket and the other the hospital explosion, and they were probably unrelated (I can't rule out weird crap where a large piece of rocket and fuel managed to get as far as the hospital, but it seems unlikely). But there was a lot of ordnance in the air that night so showing me one rocket which wasn't involved doesn't move the needle much. It's like claiming a bite wasn't caused by a dog because you found one particular dog whose teeth don't match.

And this video was cited by IDF spokesman in media interviews.

As a correspondent speaks, the camera pans to zoom in on a volley of rockets being fired from the ground nearby.

This is clearly not the same launch; the rocket in the disputed video is singular, not part of a volley.

Is there a different video you would say provides the best evidence that the explosion was due to a rocket failure? From the beginning I found that story hard to believe, but I considered the now-debunked video the best evidence for it (like all the news orgs etc). Without that, the recording released by Israel seems to be the strongest evidence... And that's not saying much.

In any case, certain people here have absolutely jumped the gun by accusing the press of being "stenographers for terrorism." The situation is murkier than that, and if anything the Press has helped Israel's narrative by appealing to a now-debunked piece of evidence to all draw "high-confidence" conclusions...

Is there a different video you would say provides the best evidence that the explosion was due to a rocket failure?

The best evidence I've seen is the damage photos. It doesn't look like a large HE explosion (not enough damage), nor a small one (too much of the wrong sort of damage, especially fire). It looks like a fuel explosion; the bright fireball at the hospital site in some videos matches that also. I don't say this definitely indicates a rocket failure, but as far as I know there aren't any purpose-built munitions the Israelis are using that would create that sort of explosion.

Is there a different video you would say provides the best evidence that the explosion was due to a rocket failure?

IIRC this launch corresponded to PIJ announcing they were using one of their new longer-range (read: bigger) rockets, so the prior spontaneous failure rate probably should be estimated to be pretty high.

As someone who is reasonably familiar with high-power rocketry and has at least read the literature on making large solid motors (which is what these are), scaling up is hard: even small imperfections in the solid grain can cause explosive failures. Fail to get all the bubbles out when casting? Your burn rate (and thus chamber pressure, which can cause explosive failures) will vary drastically. Or maybe your grain cracks and pieces clog the nozzle: now you have a bomb.

Best results require starting with precisely-sized powders, high-grade chemicals, and some industrial equipment (mixing, vacuum casting) that scales with the size of motor you're trying to make. Most of that is something Hamas is having to make or smuggle in. And even for well-prepared amateurs it doesn't always succeed the first time.

IIRC this launch corresponded to PIJ announcing they were using one of their new longer-range (read: bigger) rockets, so the prior spontaneous failure rate probably should be estimated to be pretty high.

What's the distribution of mortality among these rocket failures? This would be a massive outlier, even assuming only 50 casualties. It hit the perfect spot, at some unspecified distance from where NYT reports that Israel was striking only two minutes before. My priors are just that it was an intentional strike, and "this launch corresponded to PIJ announcing they were using one of their new longer-range (read: bigger) rockets" is just weak evidence of a rocket failing in such a way and happening to strike that spot. It's another assumption of a new type of rocket other than the thousands others that have been launched from Hamas. So my priors are moving in the opposite direction if these are the sort of assumptions that need to be layered on to make the Israeli side of the story plausible.

Without the video which did show some sort of rocket failing at about the same time (and turned out to be an Israeli rocket !!), I don't know what evidence there actually is that this extremely unusual thing actually happened. Like I said, this video formulated previously what I thought was the strongest evidence for the Israeli side (but it didn't convince me then), so it's significant it's debunked.

The press (including the most 'reputable' outlets like the BBC) spent the first day after the hospital explosion credulously repeating "Israeli strike on hospital kills 550" (or even 800 in some cases).

It is now clear that even if Israel caused the explosion, which seems very much a debatable matter still, it didn't kill anywhere near the 500-800 people that Hamas' health ministry claimed.

There is no way this event would have been front page news, knowing what we know now. "Parking Lot bombed, 30 killed" doesn't have the same ring as "Hospital bombed, 500 killed".

I do wonder if these initial reports spooked the IDF into instituting a flat denial of what would have been an intentional strike that was less extraordinary than initially reported.

In any case, the press initially reported excessive death tolls (how excessive is TBD) but then in the subsequent days and weeks their narrative shifted to relying on a bad piece of evidence to draw conclusions with high confidence. The initial press reaction to the news that was coming out of Gaza (where reporters are not allowed) is less telling than the narrative the congealed in the days and weeks after, a narrative that appears to have been based on bad evidence that they all got wrong.

The Guardian would clearly prefer for Israel to stop further military interventions. I am used to the Guardian being somewhat partisan, but still surprised by this level of one-sidedness. The alternative to an invasion of Gaza is the status quo. Hamas stays in power while Israel forbids the import of anything which could be used to craft weapons, thus severely limiting the quality of life inside the strip. Hamas continues to fire rockets, Israel continues to respond with airstrikes.

I think an occupation of Gaza (while obviously the thing Hamas wants Israel to attempt) might be preferable in the long run for the surviving Gazans. Gaza is not Afghanistan, size-wise. Instead of having an open air prison run by the most homicidal inmates, turn it into an panopticon. For those who would rather die than live under occupation, grant them their wish when they try anything. Be culturally sensitive by limiting the freedom of speech to levels customary in Iran or Saudi Arabia: imprison anyone who advocates violence against Israel. Don't let people starve, don't kill civilians when you can avoid it. Invest. If, a generation down the road, a huge majority is in favor of peaceful relations with Israel, give them self-determination.

It is less clear how such an occupation might benefit the Interests of Israel (or any other state), though. Winning the war against Hamas will take a huge toll both in IDF lives and bad PR (pictures of dead kids), and the occupation will likely be a drain on resources for decades. And then there is a decent chance that the moment you retreat, Hamas is back in power. The alternative of just continuing low intensity air strikes indefinitely (even the Guardian can hardly run stories about innocent airstrike victims for years) and otherwise fortify your border.

The Grauniad's readers are considerably more psychotic than their staff:

But what if Israel had not met horror with horror? What if, with restraint and dignity, it had mourned its dead, leaving the depravity and hatred of the Hamas project for the world to behold? What if the international community had learned the lesson of Iraq, and insisted that Israelis and Palestinians find ways to live side by side, or even, as they surely eventually must, together?

It's really not possible to talk to someone who thinks you could shame the Arab street into compliance by turning the other cheek and ignoring a major terrorist attack.

Echoing @HalloweenSnarry, this isn't so much psychosis as it is a mix of naivete, delusion, wishcasting, and some typical-minding. I had a conversation earlier this week with someone who basically holds this kind of turn-the-other-cheek view about both the Hamas attacks and the 9/11 Al Qaeda attacks on the US. To him, quiet national stoicism and a call for peace would have had such a psychologically-resonant impact that terrorists would see the error of their ways, realize that Jews and Christians aren't the evil monsters the terrorists envision them to be, and just lay down their weapons. Maybe a round of Kumbaya while we're at it.

And honestly, I think it might work for some small margin of people, but to think Hamas is going be emotionally overcome by that kind of sentiment is foolhardy at best.

I don't think that's psychosis, that's just naivete.

It would, nevertheless, probably have been in Israel's long-term best interests to have "[left] the depravity and hatred of the Hamas project for the world to behold." Of course, it would not have been in the short-term interests of the current Israeli administration to do so, so it was not going to happen.

Nor is the only choice either 1) ignoring the attack or 2) responding in a manner which will inevitably kill large numbers of civilians. See, eg, Israel's response to the Munich Olympics attack.

What, specifically, do you think would have happened if Israel did not respond?

Please show me where I said that Israel should not respond. As I explicitly said, there are options other than not responding and responding in a manner which will inevitably kill large numbers of civilians.

What do you think would have been the best response for Israel here and why?

Such as? Again, be specific please.

More importantly, what do you think would have happened, that it would be in some way advantageous to Israel?

Such as? Again, be specific please.

I already mentioned the response to the Munich Olympics incident.

More importantly, what do you think would have happened, that it would be in some way advantageous to Israel?

Well, for one thing, this would have been more likely to come to fruition. As would various other arrangements between Israel and local governments which are not particularly enamored of Iran and its proxies. There are a lot of potential advantages to not giving your enemies credible grounds for accusing you of war crimes.

You expect Israelis to conduct covert assassinations of thousands of Hamasniks inside the Gaza strip, by foot? That’s not very realistic. Unless you meant assassinating Hamas leaders in Qatar, which I’m all for. It doesn’t solve the issue, though, so I don’t see the point.

How does a deal with Saudi help with removing Hamas monsters from Gaza? Or at all, in this context? This is just unrelated.

It doesn’t solve the issue, though, so I don’t see the point.

There is not going to be a perfect solution. The point is simply that there are choices other than the imperfect solution of doing nothing and the imperfect solution of using force in a manner that is guaranteed to kill large numbers of civilians. But making leaders pay for their decisions will certainly encourage the next leaders to make different decisions in the future.

How does a deal with Saudi help with removing Hamas monsters from Gaza?

I didn't say it did. You asked what would happen that "would be in some way advantageous to Israel."

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Of course, it would not have been in the short-term interests of the current Israeli administration to do so, so it was not going to happen.

I agree that this over-determined the Israeli response. "Hamas breaks out of Gaza and attacks Israeli citizens" is not exactly the type of black swan event as "Jihadists crash planes into the WTC". So Hamas did not only commit their atrocities, but they also showed up the Israeli administration (which has security as a big part of their platform, I think) and their intelligence services and military which failed to stop them.

Under these circumstances, the people involved in deciding whether to invade are unlikely to decide that it is in Israels best long term interests not to do so.

the people involved in deciding whether to invade are unlikely to decide that it is in Israels best long term interests not to do so.

I think it is rather that they might take actions despite believing that it is in Israels best long term interests not to do so. Or, more likely, without making a sufficient effort to determine whether it is in Israels best long term interests not to do so.

That seems incredibly naïve to me. If you're surrounded by people who would gladly see you dead, it would be a fatal mistake to broadcast to them that they can kill you without fear of retribution.

Israel's response to the Munich Olympics attack involved very different circumstances, since they were assassinating PLO members living in Lebanon and various parts of Europe. They obviously couldn't kill large numbers of civilians in sovereign states they weren't at war with. There are some Hamas leaders living in Turkey and Qatar, but the rank-and-file of Hamas live in Gaza, among the civilian population.

If you're surrounded by people who would gladly see you dead, it would be a fatal mistake to broadcast to them that they can kill you without fear of retribution.

It's interesting you don't seem to even think to apply this same mode of thought to Palestinians.

Also I strongly doubt the reason the Gaza attack happened was because Hamas was mistaken in believing they could GTA it and dodge any sort of counter attack. If one is to believe the conspiracy theory that this is related to closening Israeli-Saudi relations one might think they were even counting on it.

Who said anything about no retribution? As I explicitly said, there is a third choice, other than 1) No retribution; and 2) retribution which inevitability kills large numbers of civilians. Which was the purpose of mentioning the response to the Munich Olympics, which was obvious a case of retribution.

Ok, so what is the third choice here? There's nothing explicit about gesturing to "a better way" without spelling out exactly what that way is. That's just smugness masquerading as nuance. Is Israel supposed to follow the Munich strategy in a dense urban area filled with hostile civilians?

The Munich strategy was to send covert assassination teams, so why not? And, there is nothing to prevent Israel from pursuing non-military options, especially with backing from the US, EU, and local enemies of Iran. The leaders of Qatar might find it to be in their interests to arrest Hamas's leader, for example.

And, you are completely ignoring the key issue, which is that a different response might well be in the long-term best interests of Israel. It would certainly make Saudi recognition more likely, that's for sure.

The Guardian view on the power of forgiveness: a freed hostage’s gesture should not be forgotten

Just violently take hostages (where some die) and then you can have a gesture that shouldn't be forgotten. The only thing that can't be forgotten is that they are radical Islamists and will Jihad if given the opportunity. You can't reason with them or negotiate. Leftists are incapable of understanding radical Islam.

Has there been any discussion within Israel or within the broader Jewish diaspora about a change in approach to gun rights?

I can't be the only one who realizes that if the Israelis were armed in the same way that The Americans are, that 10/7 would have looked a lot different. Not the music festival, obviously, but the houses/villages for sure. But actually: maybe the music festival too[1]. Just looking out the window and considering the guns that I know for a fact that my neighbors have (I live in the downtown area of a major, liberal American city), there is absolutely 0 chance that Hamas would be going door to door executing anybody in my neighborhood.

It's pretty wild how much Americans are into guns. To the people who aren't aware: gun nerds have kindof moved past just being into guns at this point. Yeah they own AR-15s, but the are also really into training, physical fitness, radio skills, orienteering, and own some pretty fucking advanced sensing equipment. 15 years ago it was cool to have an Ar15, now dudes are (almost commonly) out here with full on panoramic thermal/nightvision, body armor, etc. It's insane.

[1]: Even the yogi far left borderline authleft people I go to music festivals with own guns. Americans really own a fucking shit load of guns.

It's pretty wild how much Americans are into guns.

I recently got into deer hunting. Game meat is really healthy, you know? Also it's more humane, I think? Anyway, It started with buying a bolt action rifle with a scope, my first firearm ever. Now that I have one, I need to go to the range to practice. This means I need glasses and also ear protection. Best to get the ear muffs that have loud noise cancellation so you can hear conversation. Oh, and there’s an aux input in case I hunt with other hunters and need a radio. Pretty cool. It even comes with two tone American flag velcro patch. Call of Duty vibe intensifies.

Obviously need a full assortment of camo to go with it. No no hunting camo, not like digital pattern camo don't be silly. Well, the military digital camo is cheaper actually, may as well.

Hey hunting deer is actually really challenging and the season is halfway over. Maybe I should branch out into wild turkey hunting. Oh, I need a shotgun for that? Well, why not. Should probably get slugs and buckshot, just for versatility.

While on some hunts I realized I was the only one without a sidearm. What’s the sidearm for? In case bears and cougars attack! Well shit, now I need to go shop for one of those. What will have enough stopping power? Let me head to the indoor range and rent a few and try them out. Hmm, yeah. I think the Glock 40 10mm should do, let me buy that.

Hey, since I have a handgun now, I may as well take a few extra steps to get it ready for home defense: add a silencer and light so I don't go blind and deaf shooting it indoors at night at an intruder.

Good good. Actually, why don’t I get a concealed carry license? May as well carry it with me just in case. It'd be super annoying to get mugged on the street when I have a perfectly good handgun at home. Probably I should take some classes on proper self defense though. Maybe also drill some tactics in case I end up in an active shooter situation. Again, it'd be pretty annoying to have a handgun with a concealed carry license but not know how to handle an active shooter...

Panoramic thermal/nightvision sounds like it'd be really handy for hunting, now that you mention it. Orienteering is probably a good skill to develop just in case I go too far off trails chasing wounded game...

I’m not sure how this gets to AR-15 ownership and drilling raids, but I’m guessing it’s only a matter of time.

Meal Team 6 is kinda wasting their time practicing with guns though. If you want to be ready for the war with the federal government you gotta be going all-in drone warfare.

There are a lot of up front costs with responsible gun ownership. Gun safe, range membership, knowledge of local firearms laws.

So the marginal cost of additional guns is relatively low. Plus if you're putting in range time then guns are officially one of your hobbies. Might as well get more guns.

I’m not sure how this gets to AR-15 ownership and drilling raids

Cheapest semi-automatic rifle firing the cheapest rifle cartridge (and only coincidentally, the best rifle ever made). Full-power rifles suck to actually shoot more than a few times be it on or off a bench, but you can shoot this literally all day.

Provided the deer in your area are small enough this can be an excellent (first) rifle for dealing with them.

Provided the deer in your area are small enough

They are not. The typical recommended deer caliber range for white tailed deer is from .243 to 30-06. .223 falls below this range.

add a silencer

Digital form 4s are currently sitting at 201 days estimated processing time for individuals, 236 days for trusts. Between the wait times, the fingerprinting, name and address on a federal registration and just the extra 200 dollars, getting into NFA items is something most people still pass on. eForms (that notionally promised faster processing times but 12% faster on a 270 day isn't much to brag about) silencershop kiosks/form filling software/trust services are changing that a bit but culturally still rare. There also used to be a lot of misinformation and mystery about the process.

That said once you get one stamp, most of the mental and bureaucratic hurdles are cleared and stamp collecting becomes much more likely. After waiting the better part of a year for a can, one to two months to "manufacture" an SBR you can more easily maneuver through a hallway without potential legal implications seems comparatively easy. (And practically speaking actual stocks are more comfortable and ergonomic than braces.)

Yes, it has. I’m a member of a few groups that advocate for gun rights in Israel - membership has gone up significantly.

There is an extra Israeli specific issue to consider, though: most Jewish Israelis don’t want Arab Israelis to have guns, with a few obvious exceptions like Abu Gosh residents and Druze outside the Golan heights. The way to filter out such “disloyal” populations from owning a gun is to require military service of some sort for a gun license.

In the more immediate term, license requirements have been relaxed slightly just last week - allowing a few hundred thousand more Israelis if the “right” sort to qualify, myself included.

Additionally, city watches are forming in more cities further away from the borders. These watches are normally armed with a rifle of some sort.

I’d just like to point out that Israel is currently kvetching over wether an obvious way to enhance their own protection, might be offensive to some of her citizens.

Think about the stark contrast there. Israel is making themselves objectively more unsafe because they don’t want to be mean to the Muslims. Incredible.

I’m sorry, maybe I wasn’t being clear. The point is to give guns only to Jews, because most Arabs can’t be trusted with them. It’s literally the opposite of trying to not be mean to them.

I think their point is instead of Israel saying straight out, “Arabs can’t have guns”, they prefer to make it harder for everyone to get guns.

Yes exactly that.

I see. But some Arabs should have guns - the ones that proved their loyalty by serving. Besides, I think there’s a difference of kind between straight-up racist legislation and offensiveness.

Israel is making themselves objectively more unsafe because they don’t want to be mean to the Muslims. Incredible.

Sounds like its on par with the rest of the "western" world.

Don’t want to be mean?

More like don’t trust them not to contribute to the problem, either by arming Gazans or by causing more sectarian violence on the Israel side of the barrier. If you live on the far side of Jerusalem, which feels more threatening—a once-in-a-decade paraglider raid, or all your Arab neighbors buying rifles?

I’m not saying this is the correct assessment, but it tracks with what I’d expect non-gun-owners to think about the value of increased gun rights.

No you miss my point. The obvious, rational move would be to say: Israeli Jews can own guns, but Muslims can’t. The test is literally: are you a Muslim? Then you can’t have a gun because you are a dangerous person in a suicide cult.

This is what Israel wants, but it doesn’t do this because of how mean it would be to the Muslims.

It's not because of how mean it would be to the Muslims, it's because of how it would provide fuel to the narrative that Israel is an aparteid state.

Among the diaspora, Randy Barnett has been hammering that argument at length, and has been arguing it for a while; the JPFO have unsurprisingly had a field day, for whatever they're worth now.

Even with the US armed to the teeth we unfortunately can’t seem to stop mass shooters. In fact the deadliest shooting in the US was one man firing into a music festival into the busiest tourist area in the country. Think this is a very hard problem to solve if the shooters are motivated enough.

we unfortunately can’t seem to stop mass shooters

You believe this because you have been told it - CCW holders and cops stop plenty of mass shootings. The stories are buried at best.

The main point has already been made by @roystgnr . One man army mass murder events are more impactful for the US, that's for sure, but eliminating them is an intractable problem.

Well just this morning I was “told” about 22 more people killed in a mass shooting. The police and CCW holders may have stopped “plenty”, but I think the idea that US gun owners could stop a Hamas attack to be a pure fantasy.

It is funny - I heard about the shooting last night and thought "the guy I responded to on the Motte is definitely going to hold it up as proof he's right"

I think being a firearms instructor and nailing people at a bowling alley may be different than Hamas' door to door executions and roaming through residential areas.

The deadliest mass shooting in the US was the Battle of Gettysburg, a Civil War battle with 7000 deaths.

The deadliest mass shooting of non-soldiers in the US was the Wounded Knee Massacre, a gun confiscation gone wrong with 200 civilian deaths.

The Vegas shooting was horrifyingly awful, but it's still a factor of three below the lesser of those.

(This does suggest that Israel think carefully before letting the genie out of that bottle too; the plurality anti-mass-shooting position in the USA is probably "do a million gun confiscations, and hope they don't go wrong or start a civil war", and it's not because nobody's looking for good ideas instead)

Think this is a very hard problem to solve if the shooters are motivated enough.

If mass murderers are motivated and competent enough it's an impossible problem to solve. A guy with dozens of powerful rifles and a hotel room full of ammo killed 61 people; a guy with a rental truck full of fertilizer and fuel killed 168. Your average one-man-army is a lesser potential terrorism threat than your average farmer, if the latter doesn't worry about getting caught.

In the US we track fertilizer sales more closely now (and farmers aren't generally the mass-murdering type), and many would-be bombers range from incompetent (the Columbine killers planted nearly a hundred bombs, which failed to work; guns were their backup plan) to anti-competent (one suspect in any bombing is the victim, because it's hilariously common for murderers and would-be murderers to blow themselves up by accident) ... but even with Gaza blockaded, Hamas manages to manufacture and employ working explosives and even mostly-working rockets readily enough. Not driving truck bombs through the breach this month was a tactical choice, not a tactical necessity.

On the other hand, even reducing a problem with a non-100%-solution is better than nothing. These hypothetical truck bombs might not have all made it to their targets before getting stopped by an airstrike, and likewise the non-hypothetical gunmen might not have all made it to their targets before getting stopped by a more-armed citizenry. A more-armed Israeli citizenry might lead to other unintended deaths, but so do Israeli airstrikes.

That…neither of those is a mass shooting.

I’m not sure I follow what you’re proposing. Or dismissing.

Not the parent but, to paraphrase, the mass shootings which the media focuses on have relatively small impact compared to state-sanctioned violence. They also have a small impact compared to the garden variety inner-city homicide which kills more than 1000 Columbines worth of people every year.

The media chooses to amplify the mass shooting events because it's great for ratings and it plays to their prejudices about red states.

Sadly, the media is literally™ killing people because the focus on these events makes them more likely to occur.

What’s the implication for the Israelis, then?

The OP thinks personal gun ownership might help defend against Hamas terror attacks. YouEssAy is skeptical because US gun ownership hasn’t defended against a different sort of attack. I lose the thread when royst says, uh, enough soldiers shooting back and forth is worse. What’s that got to do with the price of ammo in Jerusalem?

What’s that got to do with the price of ammo in Jerusalem?

The second half of my comment was less conclusive than the first. From the right perspective, is that really such a bad thing? The right way to reason is to start with raw facts and hope you can eventually accumulate enough of them to deduce conclusions. If you don't start reasoning until you have all the implications in hand then you're doing it exactly backwards. That's supposed to be an unconscious flaw in human reasoning, not a conscious goal!

Admittedly I might not have chimed in on such a grossly hard problem with a nuanced and inconclusive answer if vague points with varying consequences were all I had to add. But someone said the deadliest mass shooting in the US was Vegas, and it wasn't, and so I gave two counterexamples, but then tried to keep at least partly on-topic afterwards.

If someone says "2 + 2 = 5, therefore you shouldn't kick puppies and you should agree with my politics", then I'm the sort of person who'll point out "2 + 2 = 4" even if I don't have much to add to the rest of the sentence.

I do find it interesting to see the responses when I do that, though. Sometimes you get "Oh, so it is; but here are some unrelated good reasons for not puppy-kicking or disagreeing with my politics". Other times you get "those just aren't sufficiently large values of 2!" or "why should I listen to what an obvious puppy-kicker has to say!"

I’ve got nothing against your choice to include musings, but I mistook them for a single argument. Hence my confusion.

I do have to object to calling military actions mass shootings, though. Mainstream definitions don’t include warfare, and some of them don’t even include robberies and terrorism. There are assumptions of asymmetry in number and preparedness.

I understand that you think this is motivated reasoning. That doesn’t justify diluting the term. Personal violence and state-coordinated violence have different implications for culpability, capability, and potential countermeasures.

Mainstream definitions don’t include warfare

The first sentence of that link does: "A mass shooting is a violent crime in which an attacker kills or injures multiple individuals simultaneously using a firearm."

The second sentence says, "There is no widely-accepted definition of "mass shooting"".

We finally get past the part that agrees with me and the part that admits that reasonable people differ and reach, "Definitions of mass shootings exclude warfare", but at this point it seems like an arbitrary rather than a principled exception. If someone wants to make up a term, and they pick "Adjective Noun" but then whine about "but I didn't really mean all instances of Noun that satisfied Adjective!", wouldn't it be better just to make up a new term? Logically it's more coherent. Rhetorically it doesn't allow you to steal all the connotations that Adjective+Noun already have, but that's a feature, not a bug.

(Also, I personally would have called the Wounded Knee Massacre a "war crime" rather than "warfare", wouldn't you? I know we're way before the Geneva conventions at that point, but "don't kill all the women and children too" seems like it's not too much of an anachronism to ask for.)

Personal violence and state-coordinated violence have different implications for culpability, capability, and potential countermeasures.

That's a great argument for responding to different subcategories of mass shootings differently. It's not a good argument for caring about them differently ... and it's especially not an argument for excluding the deadliest of them, in the specific context of "which was deadliest"!

That doesn’t justify diluting the term.

The Wounded Knee Massacre is a dilution? Maybe at the time, when that sort of mass shooting got the murderers medals instead of prison, they'd have made that argument, but we should know better now. Nobody should ever look at the mass murder-via-shooting (am I at least allowed to call it that?) of hundreds of innocent people and say "gosh, these mass shootings aren't as bad as I thought!"

More comments

Well, admittedly it's only a Mass Shooting (PDO) if it comes from the Valley of Motivated Reasoning; otherwise it's merely a sparkling mass of people getting shot.

bases were overrun, neighborhood watch with former IDF were mostly overrun (some stories of successful Kibbutz defenses, mostly farther from Gaza so they had more time).

I think it would have helped if everyone there had an AR15 ready though. It seemed like those communities only had handguns, which ends up not being powerful in the face of a few dudes with rifles

The Kibbutzim that were attacked near the Gaza border typically had border posts, fencing, security that was monitored, and an armed neighborhood guard comprised of ex-IDF (soldiers rather than just conscripts) and led by a more senior former officer. Those were some of the first victims in these communities.

I really don’t think the modal heavily gun-owning Southern town would fare much better, unless they can spontaneously wake all the adult men, form into a trained town militia, and come up with and execute a strategic plan to counter a large number of trained, armed young men with maps and a plan who also didn’t wake up halfway through the attack.

unless they can spontaneously wake all the adult men, form into a trained town militia, and come up with and execute a strategic plan to counter a large number of trained, armed young men with maps and a plan who also didn’t wake up halfway through the attack

You could also train them to do this quickly and call the resulting militia something like hour-men or second-men, I am bad at naming things. I wonder if any countries have tried this in the past, perhaps the US could learn from their experience?

Sure, but that’s not the current situation in the US.

Ironically, this is one scenario where the local police showing up with ex-military MRAPs might actually be useful. Then again, a lot of that militarization started after the North Hollywood Shootout, where the police did find themselves under-prepared and had to borrow materiel from a local gun store.

I think you're right in that the element of surprise probably negates local armaments, but there are examples (Sutherland Springs comes to mind) of quick-thinking locals stopping spree killers. But no American town has faced more than a half-dozen armed opponents in probably the last century.

Does all this intense hobbyist stuff make them especially useful as combatants or an ad hoc militia, though?

Very high-variance. There's a lot of people who are 'mall ninjas', who buy a ton of tacticool crap without much serious training or skill with any of it, for whom guns and equipment are probably better modeled as a status or investment thing. On the other hand, there's also a lot of training-as-hobby that goes to pretty high extremes, ranging from cowboy action shooting at the LARPy end, multigun in the middle, and score-based SWAT training at the other end.

There's part of the latter groups who I would rather have than police or even some military people.

Some previous discussion: https://www.themotte.org/post/705/israelgaza-megathread-1/146562?context=8#context

What I think is that Israel can't allow American-style gun rights without either allowing Israeli Arabs to also heavily arm themselves, which would make it easier for pro-Palestinian militants to also obtain guns, or writing ethnicity-based gun laws that would make it clear that Israel is an apartheid ethnostate.

Imagine for example a law that allowed American whites to own guns, but not American blacks. I know that here at TheMotte probably a good number of people would support such a law, but out in the wider world of the West this is something that has been completely outside of the Overton window for probably like 60 years now.

but out in the wider world of the West this is something that has been completely outside of the Overton window for probably like 60 years now.

Israel is an apartheid ethnostate and they don't even bother trying to hide it. They don't give a shit about the Overton window, and this policy would be less objectionable than the "dna testing for citizenship" they already practice.

or writing ethnicity-based gun laws that would make it clear that Israel is an apartheid ethnostate

Well, it's easy: make gun ownership dependent on completing your military service. Israeli Arabs can't serve in the IDF with some exceptions.

Serving in a country's armed forces is about as far as one can go towards making oneself the direct tool of the country's government, so a law that restricts gun ownership to people who have served in the armed forces is very close to a law that makes it so that the only people who can own guns are either people who support the government or people who are willing to at least hold their noses and pretend to support it.

If the idea of such a law was raised in the US, I imagine that the right would be outraged despite its general love of the military. For example, such a law would essentially mean that if you were born at some point after 2004 or so, you would only be able to own guns if you had been vaccinated against COVID.

The US is not Israel. It's appropriate, I think, for a nation like Israel that is credibly threatened by their neighbours, to demand a higher standard of cooperation and assurances of loyalty from their citizens. I think if the US was at war, or engaged in conflict with a neighbour, it would be appropriate to control the ownership of firearms, including taking them away from anyone that can't demonstrate their loyalty. In times of peace, of course, such restrictions should be abandoned.

If there was a credible threat of US citizens rising up against government tyranny, which pro-gun-rights people seem to believe to be a central motivation for gun rights, I'm sure the US government could come up with some external threat that justifies requiring demonstrations of loyalty from gun owners. (Russia would probably do by twisting the knob on the election interference narrative just a little bit.) This is usually found somewhere on the first page of those "dictatorship playbook" writeups.

This isn't my experience with ex military in the US at least. It seems to be an even split between licking boots more fervently or realizing that any entity who has figured out how to pay $100 for a steel bolt used in helicopters is beyond saving or supporting.

Isn’t it rather that Israeli Arabs are permitted to serve, but are exempt from conscription, with some exceptions? That is what this IDF webpage says.

Right, thanks for the correction. Even so, an Arab that served in the IDF would be unlikely to be pro-Palestinian.

No, I wouldn't think so.

Here’s my take. Compliant with my own “50 year rule” that holds that any political injustice or status quo that’s persisted for more than 50ish years should be accepted automatically and we simply move on (since by that point most people originally involved are either dead or too old to matter, plus “sins of the father” rhetoric), I think a two state solution is just permanently dead.

What Palestinians, broadly speaking, need most is a return to open elections (new leadership - the PA has been useless for years and doesn’t actually seem to care about getting an actual solution) coupled with a sustained series of publicized Kumbiya moments of forgiveness and unity. Ideally with a charismatic leader on one or both sides. Then a sustained push for equal rights. Possibly combined with some mild economic and land reform/incentives. This will probably work fine for the West Bank and Gaza will probably remain slum-like, without a great near term solution. Focus on the equal treatment bits and learning to live as a multicultural society. I’m not saying Israeli government is like Apartheid, and we shouldn’t treat it the same, but if we are honest it certainly shares some attributes and Israeli doesn’t yet treat all Arabs the same.

I think this approach is completely plausible. It just will take work and a willingness from Palestinians and Israelis alike. For those who think a lifetime of war and conflict and oppression is inevitable, as well as those trapped in the recent news, I think it’s helpful to continue to consider what a medium term resolution can or could be like.

I believe Jim Crow segregation persisted for at least 50 years, depending on exactly how you define things. So you could almost certainly pick a number of years where this rule would define that as something we should just accept and move on from.

I suspect you didn't mean that, but then we have a much tricker problem about defining what constitutes ongoing oppressions versus historical grievances for the purpose of such a rule.

on the equal treatment bits and learning to live as a multicultural society

Sir, this situation is arguably harming multiculturalism in the West as a mere side effect

50 years seems to be too short to me.

I think this approach is completely plausible. It just will take work and a willingness from Palestinians and Israelis alike.

this is oxymoron :)

The figure has a directly relevant precedent backing it, however.

Wow ‘F*** Jews’: Antisemites Vandalize the Office of Bari Weiss’s Media Outlet

Weiss, who worked at the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times before launching her own media outlet, revealed Sunday on X that she had discovered the message “F*** Jews” scrawled on the wall outside of her office.

“This was scrawled outside of our offices this week,” she said. “If the antisemites who did this think it will intimidate me and the journalists of @TheFP, they don’t know me, they don’t know us, and they have no idea what we stand for.”

I am used to these being hoxes, but this looks legit. At least they spelled 'Israel' correct. Looking at the floor, it appears it was scribbled from inside a building:

https://twitter.com/bariweiss/status/1716196517613281517/photo/2

Id suggest it’s fake because white leftists probably wouldn’t say “fuck Jews”, while both rightists and Muslims have ‘more important’ targets than Bari Weiss, and the only faction ‘critical’ of this IDW stuff is the left.

No idea whether it’s credible, but I don’t agree with your reasoning here. Careful word choice and target selection are not all that likely.

while both rightists and Muslims have ‘more important’ targets than Bari Weiss

Having seen videos of people tearing down posters and harassing cars that try to get through their protests I think a lot of people just want to let loose and sow a little chaos and slake some bloodlust and they've been given an excuse.

These people aren't serious revolutionaries anymore than Meatball is, no matter the rhetoric. What do they give a shit if there're more important targets? By definition, those take more work!

I'm guessing an inside job. Lefties hire lefties even after they've been burned a few times.

The role of female soldiers in the IDF has always been somewhere between fascinating and horrifying to me. The below post by @CrashedPsychonaut mentions that the capture of an IDF garrison near the border fence involved a number of hapless young female soldiers, isolated at their posts and overrun. I imagine that some of these women were shot and killed, and I presume that others surrendered and were rounded up as hostages; the subsequent fate of these women is very distressing to imagine.

Some quick Googling indicates that approximately 40% of the IDF’s conscript soldiers were female as of 2021, comprising 25% of officers and 18% of combat soldiers. The latter two numbers, and especially the last one, are shockingly high to me. I had been under the impression that the IDF’s female conscripts were overwhelmingly shunted away into positions where a whole lot of things would need to go very unexpectedly wrong before there was any significant chance of them facing real combat. And, to be fair, it seems like in the case of that garrison, a whole lot of things did go very unexpectedly wrong. Still, it’s insane to me that a country with such overwhelmingly security concerns and so many threats surrounding it would put literally any important responsibility in the hands of female soldiers.

I’ve always been under the vague impression that the IDF’s inclusion of so many female soldiers was mostly a PR ploy; filling their ranks with photogenic young women makes people more likely to feel positively-inclined and prescribe towards it. It also allows them to circulate photos of busty women in camo wielding large guns, an archetype which seems to have significant (and, to me, inexplicable) appeal to a certain segment of the American mainstream right. The thought that these smiling young women could actually be sent to the front lines to do hand-to-hand urban combat against battle-hardened men is both inconceivable and appalling to me. I would expect most of them to surrender almost immediately if confronted with life-threatening combat situations. The impact on IDF morale of having a substantial number of its female soldiers captured or killed seems like it would be catastrophic, to say nothing of its practical strategic effects.

Can anyone offer more insight into the role of women in the IDF, and specifically their role in actual combat operations? Both historically and in terms of what we can expect to see in whatever upcoming operations are going to take place as a result of the current crisis?

The IDF uses female soldiers to great effect as trainers and instructors. From what I understand, male soldiers have been shown to be much more attentive and learn better when the instructor is an attractive female. This is what Gal Gadot did in her military service.

Most of the female soldiers in bases that were overrun during the initial attack were "lookouts" (tatspitaniot). Their job is to monitor the surveillance technology that tracks the Gaza border and alert about anything that seems suspicious. I don't think there's any reason to think that they would be at a disadvantage in a job like that compared to a male soldier, and it frees up the male soldier for a combat role which requires his physical abilities.

There are some border patrol units that are now mixed gender, but the traditional infantry and armor units are still male only. There was a famous Supreme Court case a few decades ago that required the IDF to allow women to enter the pilots course, but as I understand it only a handful of women have passed since then.

I’m not going to call modern combat the same thing as hunting, but a surprisingly large number of women post their big game hunting pics on Facebook groups. Yesterday one posted a picture of a cougar, and she had its dead bloody carcass slung over both shoulders. Another posted a pic of a deer she shot at 400 yards.

Women seem like they can be trained to kill with guns just fine. Are they as good as men? Perhaps not. But are they worse than not having them at all? Definitely not.

The funny thing's that if you really want to go nuts HBD-wise, there's a reasonable argument women have an advantage for some shooting sports and styles, famously including a couple Olympic-level matters.

Whether that extrapolates to combat is a separate matter -- not just for aggression reasons, but because combined small-arms armor and ammo is a lot of weight, which has to be fairly high on the body -- and there are some obvious issues with additional war crimes risks, but it's a funny aspect.