Caught the Mouse

Published at 14:11 on 30 November 2023

For about the past fortnight, there has been an unwanted house guest living on my first floor.

Late this morning, returning from an errand, I finally was greeted with the sight I have been hoping to see for all too long: a sprung mouse trap with a dead rodent in it. As luck would have it, part of the errand was procuring a live-catch trap (since I was having zero luck with the snap traps, and have read that the live-catch traps have a higher capture rate).

Regarding the latter point, this mouse evaded capture in a snap trap not once, not twice, not thrice, but a total of four times. I guess the critter finally let its guard down enough to let one of my traps catch it.

At least, I sure hope I caught the mouse. I.e., that there is not more than one furry little home invader to deal with. The new morning ritual of cleaning up the mouse poop has gotten very old. I am going to play it safe and hold off on returning the live-catch trap unused until at least a week passes with no sign of mouse activity.

On a related note, I have finally stopped getting nothing but the silent treatment out of the various job applications I have been sending out. Hopefully catching the mouse is a good sign that my luck has turned and I will catch a job as well. We shall see. It won’t ruin my life for this to be false optimism; I have enough saved up to be able to go without a job for a while, and the time off will be a good way to recharge.

At Last, Some Hamas Infrastructure

Published at 10:54 on 23 November 2023

I really can’t think of any other explanation for there being something like this underground.

Whether or not it qualifies as a command centre is a different matter, but again, it’s obviously there for military purposes. A civilian home would not be constructed so far underground (costly, no light, bad ventilation). A civilian bomb shelter for the hospital would be far larger.

Time’s Up; Attacks Were Unjustified

Published at 08:37 on 18 November 2023

No more evidence from al-Shifa Hospital has been presented. Domestic US media have now moved on to other subjects. Most tellingly, claims about hospital being misused for military purposes have now mysteriously vanished from the main IDF press release page about the war.

This is all precisely the behaviour one would expect when Israel is caught committing a war crime by attacking a hospital. As such, I feel safe concluding that this is what just happened.

What other war crimes are taking place? What other civilian targets are being attacked on false pretenses or inaccurate intelligence?


Independent reporters have now visited a tunnel entrance near (not in) the hospital. It is actually a hospital complex of multiple buildings, and the shaft was found near its edge. Tunnels in and of themselves are not unusual in multi-building complexes; they are often constructed for purposes of running utilities between the various buildings. So the mere existence of such a thing proves nothing. The shaft was uncovered as part of other military operations, and the IDF is not allowing reporters to enter it, claiming concerns about booby traps (which, given the overall situation, is plausible).

In other words, what may eventually turn out to be preliminary evidence of hospital misuse has finally emerged, but as of now what is known is far from constituting such evidence.

Tick-Tock… Still No Evidence

Published at 12:25 on 17 November 2023

Sorry, a few random small arms don’t cut it. The reason is rather simple: it’s a hospital in a war zone. Of course there are going to be combat casualties coming there for medical treatment. Of course those casualties will sometimes have weapons on them. What is the hospital to do, put the weapons into a magical teleportation pod to get rid of them instantly? Here on Planet Reality, such weapons will end up getting stored at the hospital until someone comes to collect them.

So what has been shown so far is precisely what one would expect to find at a hospital in a war zone that is not being used illegally for military purposes. No, providing care to wounded combatants is not considered a military purpose. Sorry.

Perhaps most tellingly, the traditionally pro-Israel US media are acting pretty much as one would expect them to, assuming these attacks were unjustified: for the most part dropping the matter and hoping people will forget it.

Maybe I’m all wet and some truly damning evidence is on its way out right now. If so:

  • I will of course revise my beliefs in light of the new evidence.
  • The time window in which to produce sufficient and credible evidence is rapidly closing.

I mean, the place was supposed to have a whole command centre below it. Surely, something that large would be difficult to hide. It’s already straining credibility that it might have so far escaped detection. Another 24 hours and I don’t think there will be much reason for doubt at all: it was just a hospital, not a command centre.

Israel Has Some ‘Splainin to Do

Published at 22:23 on 15 November 2023

They spent days targeting the al-Shifa Hospital, claiming that it was being used for military purposes in contravention of international law. Eventually, and recently, the hospital was invaded and occupied.

So far, nothing conclusive has come out in the way of evidence that it was, in fact, being used for military purposes. A few bags of captured Hamas materiel proves nothing: of course the IDF is in possession of captured Hamas materiel. They have been invading Gaza for weeks now! Was it there all along, or was it planted by the IDF? Per the latter, the first casualty in war is the truth. One would expect rather more than a few bags of stuff were the hospital actually being used militarily.

There have also been videos released. Alas, these have lots of cuts in them. Again, of course the IDF has videos of tunnels being occupied in Gaza. But are those tunnels under the hospital? A few videos with lots of cuts in them again show nothing. We need an uncut video showing the camera entering the hospital, walking down corridors, entering a tunnel, descending it, and coming upon an obvious command centre. So far, nothing like that has come out.

Maybe better evidence will be forthcoming. But it had better come out pretty darn quick. Else this whole story about hospitals being used for military purposes will sound more than a little bit fishy.

What to Do

Published at 21:35 on 10 November 2023

First, Some General Principles

  1. Two wrongs don’t make a right. This is a big one in any protracted conflict with complex causes, because in such a situation both sides will have done great wrongs to each other, and thus by the logic of retaliation always have reasons to attack.
  2. Like it or not, violence works. That’s not to say it’s nice or desirable, only that it often works. And sometimes (again, like it or not) it works when nonviolent tactics fail.
  3. Don’t idealize. It’s a long messy conflict and violence is often an effective tactic. Therefore both sides have no shortage of dirty laundry in their past.

You Didn’t Like No. 2, Did You?

Well, too bad. Why did I type this post? Why are you reading it? Why the sudden interest in the Israel/Palestine conflict? It’s been ongoing for decades, you know. There have been Palestinian initiatives to attract attention to their grievances by nonviolent means (diplomacy and protests) all along. Yet they’ve been ignored, in favour of focusing on (let me check my recent political posts here) the Russia/Ukraine war, US domestic politics, and Canadian domestic politics.

Face it: violence worked in ways that nonviolence failed to work. And such it has long been in the Israel/Palestine conflict. How many of you have heard of Bil’in? It’s a Palestinian village in the West Bank whose inhabitants attempted to use nonviolent tactics to draw attention to their grievances. But you’ve probably never heard of them, because the Western media preferred to cover those Palestinians who were employing violent tactics at the same time.

But Gandhi! But MLK!

Yes, let’s talk some about Gandhi and MLK:

  1. The Western news media paid attention to them. Since the creation of media spectacles is the whole point of most nonviolent tactics, this enabled them to work in this case.
  2. Gandhi was not the only leader in the struggle for Indian independence, and MLK was not the only leader in the struggle for Black civil rights. Some of those other leaders advocated violent tactics. Those that Gandhi and MLK were confronting knew that. Gandhi and MLK knew it, too, paid attention to what the violent groups were doing, and adjusted their strategies accordingly. Part of their message was, effectively: “You can either deal with us, now, or you can deal with groups like them, later. Your choice.”

Nonviolence can work… if the right preconditions for it to work exist. Ignoring the valid grievances of a people when they are not using violence is the exact opposite of those conditions.

But Hamas Were Such Vicious Brutes!

Yes, they were.

Then again, nothing that Hamas did on October 7th in southern Israel hadn’t already been done much earlier by Zionists in Deir Yassin.

And no, this doesn’t justify what happened last month. See General Principle No. 1 above. But it does help put recent events into more historical context (No. 3). And again, why am I typing this and why do you find it of enough interest to read (No. 2)?

To reiterate, in any protracted conflict, you will be able to find no end of great wrongs and moral outrages done by either side to the other.

What to Do about It All

Given the nasty, messy history of the region (particularly since the dawn of the 20th century), and given the mutual mistrust and hostility amongst the people living there, a prompt outbreak of peace and justice is probably too much to wish for.

Instead, the focus should be to de-escalate. Expect imperfection. Expect recurring outbreaks of violence. But at least try to organize the playing field so that the natural tendency is for there to be less, not more, retaliation and counter-retaliation over time.

Ukraine Policy Can Be a Model Here

Right now, the West is shovelling massive amounts of military aid at Ukraine, because Russia invaded and Ukraine is trying to repel the invaders. So far, so good: the invaders, by virtue of invading, demonstrated that they wanted a war. And now they have one.

But, Ukraine has been warned countless times by its benefactors not to ever use this war as an excuse for counter-invading and trying to expand its national territory at Russia’s expense (General Principle No. 1 again). Some attacks against Russian territory are to be expected, but these should be limited to degrading Russia’s ability to continue occupying parts of Ukraine. Attempts on Ukraine’s part to colonize parts of Russia are unacceptable.

So when Hamas invaded Israel, it was only to be expected that Israel would deploy its military to subdue and expel the invaders and re-secure its borders. Hamas, by virtue of invading, demonstrated they wanted a war — and now they have one.

But, that should not map into Israel having any right to colonize and control Palestinian territory. Right now, that is exactly want Israel is attempting to do.

Any realistic assessment of Israel’s history of invading and occupying chunks of its neighbours will indicate that Israel does not exactly have a good track record here. This is the case even when assessing the record solely by measuring Israeli national security. Israel occupied Gaza before, yet here we are again. Israel’s occupation of the West Bank continues to breed enmity. The enmity inspired by both occupations helped to create Hamas. Israel’s past occupations of Lebanon served to breed anti-Israel sentiment out of which Hezbollah arose. Then Israel attacked Lebanon in part to retaliate against Hezbollah, and when the dust settled Hezbollah emerged even stronger than before.

Anyhow, now that Hamas has been ejected from Israeli territory, the focus should be on restraining Israel.

But Why?

Published at 22:10 on 8 November 2023

Why did Hamas stage their attacks on the 7th of last month?

What first comes to mind are the standard reasons for any Palestinian attack on Israel. They lost their homeland, resent having lost it, and Israel is a huge part of the reason they lost it. Pretty much any people in their situation would contain at least a few individuals who feel motivated to launch attacks. But that’s unsatisfactory, as it fails to explain the exceptional viciousness of the attacks. So perhaps a better question would be: why did Hamas just take their attacks on Israel to an entirely new level?

Three main reasons come to mind:

  • Hatred. It’s the obvious one, and it’s hard to rule it out when all the best available evidence now indicates that they did in fact plan to butcher civilians.
  • Delusion, much of it faith-based. Not thinking through the likely consequences. Perhaps expecting divine intervention from a deity believed to be on their side. I would execute caution about this one, however. Hamas definitely was competent enough in planning and executing last month’s invasion. Such competence is not the hallmark of seriously deluded minds.
  • Emotion (which includes the aforementioned hatred, plus frustration, anger, etc.) They really wanted to do something big, to strike at the despised enemy, and this desire trumped a lot of rational thinking through about likely consequences. Probably a big one.

What’s interesting is that the final one applies to Israel as well. The October attacks have been called Israel’s 9/11, and Israel has invaded Gaza without much of a firm plan for what happens next, much like the USA charged into Afghanistan and Iraq in the wake of 9/11. Not much reason to expect things to go much better for Israel than they did for the USA, either. Or, for that matter, much better than they did when Israel pulverized Lebanon in July 2006. When the dust settled, Hezbollah, the enemy being retaliated against, was stronger than ever.

As to what to do about the current situation, that comes in the next post.

Was Hamas Put Up to It?

Published at 18:52 on 7 November 2023

Initially, I thought they had been, simply because the attacks make so little sense from a strategic point of view. (Israel is by far the most militarily powerful country in the region. Hamas is comparatively a military pipsqueak. As such, there was a pretty obvious foreseeable aftermath to the attack: basically what we are seeing now.)

Then I shifted to a model based on mutual misunderstanding coupled with a desire on Hamas’ part to acquire hostages to use as bargaining chips for negotiating prisoner releases. Basically, Israel misunderstood Hamas, was not expecting Hamas to attack and had scaled back border defences, while Hamas misunderstood Israel, was unaware of this, and believed they had to hit very hard in order to have any reasonable chance of scoring any hostages from their more powerful opponent. Hamas was not expecting to overwhelm Israeli defences, had no contingency plans for what to do if they did, and then latent hatred manifested in mostly unplanned attacks and violence against civilians.

The above has the advantage of helping to explain Israel’s intelligence failure. If it was Hamas’ idea all along, and had been planned solely inside Hamas, it becomes easier to conceal those plans. Plans hatched in, say, Iran and communicated to Hamas have many more chances to be discovered by Israeli spies than completely internal ones.

But recently, reports have been circulating in the media that Hamas was planning this sort of murderous mayhem all along. But what is curious about these is their provenance: they come from sources other than the Israeli military. This struck me as strange, because the Israeli military were ones who initially responded to repel the invaders, meaning they are the ones most likely to discover such documents on the bodies of their enemies.

Plus, if such documents are found, it is in Israel’s interest to publicize them. I will also note that faking such documents where none exist is not in Israel’s interest: any such lies will soon be detected by independent experts, causing them to serve the exact opposite purpose of the intended one. (What is known to have happened is bad enough, and there is no need to embellish on it. Instead of instilling sympathy for Israel, the result will be to expose Israel as a dishonest nation.) Tellingly, official IDF sources always refused to confirm the rumours (later shown to be false) of as many as 40 babies being beheaded en masse by Hamas.

Well, at least one official press release does mention such documents. It is surprising that more prominence has not been given to this on Israel’s part (it would make great propaganda), but it does really seem likely that at least some of the pogroms were planned in advance.

I do think that the overall scope of them was significantly larger than planned, because I find it hard to believe that Hamas expected border security to be as weak as it was. But, to reiterate, at least some deliberate butchering of civilians was probably always at least part of the intent.

Which, once again, raises the puzzle of whether or not any external power put Hamas up to it all. My guess is: probably not. The reason is, to reiterate, the intelligence failure leading up to the attacks. I find it highly implausible that, if this was being coordinated from abroad, all three of: Israeli intelligence, US intelligence, and the intelligence agencies of third parties such as the non-US Five Eyes countries all would have missed it. (On the latter part, anything that significant would have been shared with the USA, which would have in turn passed it on to Israel in some form.)

The next question then is: Why? Why would Hamas do that, particularly given that the expected response would be, to reiterate, something very much like what we are seeing right now? That is a subject for a future post.