Levant's Shakdam: Israel's 'Guns' Target Civilians With 'Arrows'

Wednesday, 16 Jul 2014 04:21 PM

By Sean Piccoli

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Two Middle East experts clashed Wednesday on Newsmax TV over why the latest violence between Israel and Hamas is killing far more Palestinians than Israelis.

Catherine Shakdam, associate director at the Beirut Center of Middle East studies, told "MidPoint" host Ed Berliner that the disparity — more than 200 Palestinians reported killed in nine days of fighting, compared with one reported Israeli death — comes down to firepower:

"You have people with arrows and bows faced with people with cannons and guns."

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Joshua Muravchik, a fellow at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies, countered that the reasons "go way beyond" military might.

Muravchik said Israel has spent billions of dollars on territorial defense, from its "Iron Dome" technology for intercepting rockets launched by Hamas to its system of air-raid shelters and evacuation procedures.

Hamas, he said, "does nothing — or does plenty to protect its top leadership, who hide in fortified bunkers deep beneath the ground. But they do nothing to protect their citizens."

"In fact," said Muravchik, "they've issued orders to the people to stay in their buildings that are going to be bombed — even when Israel has warned them in advance to get out — because Hamas wants to create martyrs for its political agenda of building pressure on Israel . . . They're deliberately trying to increase the amount of deaths on both sides."

Shakdam, also editor-in-chief of the Middle East news website The Levant, disputed that Palestinian civilians in the Hamas stronghold of Gaza are acting as human shields against Israeli air strikes.

She said the claim is a false one pushed by Israeli media in order to "dehumanize the Palestinian people."

Muravchik called that accusation "cheap demagoguery."

"I didn't say this was what the Palestinians per se are doing. I said it's what the Hamas leadership is doing, and that's clearly documented," said Muravchik, citing a document reportedly issued by a Hamas interior minister urging Gazans to remain inside Israeli-targeted buildings.

Shakdam said she wants both sides to stop shooting. But she said that defending the current Israeli campaign, which has killed far more civilians than combatants in Gaza, is tantamout to "saying that it's OK to target civilians."

Muravchik said it was Hamas, not Israel, that refused to observe a cease-fire proposed by Egypt.

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