Translations of this item:

  • Hamas quickly produces photographs of dead babies to be shown around the world, while at the same time preventing the media from showing its rocket launchers in densely populated areas.

  • Unless Hamas's "dead baby strategy" is denounced and stopped -- by the international community, the media, the academy and all good people -- it will be coming soon "to a theater near you".

  • If Hamas's dead baby strategy works, why not repeat it every few years? And why shouldn't other terrorist groups, like ISIS and Boko Haram, adapt this strategy to their nefarious goals as Hezbollah has already done?

On June 13, 2014, the commander of the Gaza Division of the Israel Defense Forces took me into a Hamas tunnel that had recently been discovered by a Bedouin tracker who serves in the IDF. The tunnel was a concrete bunker that extended several miles from its entrance in the Gaza Strip to its exit near an Israeli kibbutz kindergarten.

The tunnel had one purpose: to allow Hamas death squads to kill and kidnap Israelis. The commander told me that Israeli intelligence had identified more than two dozen additional tunnel entrances in the Gaza Strip. They had been identified by the large amounts of earth being removed to dig them. Although Israeli intelligence knew where these entrances were, they could not order an attack from the air, because they were built into civilian structures such as mosques, schools, hospitals, and private homes. Nor could Israel identify their underground routes from Gaza into Israel, or their intended exit points in Israel. Israeli scientists and military experts had spent millions of dollars in an effort to develop technologies that could find the underground routes and intended exits for tunnels that were as deep as a hundred feet beneath the earth, but they had not succeeded in finding a complete solution to this problem. The planned exits from these tunnels in Israel were also a Hamas secret, hidden deep in the ground and incapable of being discovered by Israel until the Hamas fighters emerged. At that point it would be too late to prevent the death squads from doing their damage.

I was taken into the tunnel and saw the technological innovations: tracks on which small trains could transport kidnapped Israelis back to Gaza; telephone and electrical lines; crevices beneath schools and other civilian targets that could hold explosives; and smaller offshoot tunnels leading from the main tube to numerous exit points from which fighters could simultaneously emerge from different places.

As soon as I went down into the tunnel, I realized that Israel would have no choice but to take military action to destroy them. Israel had a technological response — though imperfect — to Hamas rockets. Its Iron Dome was capable of destroying approximately 85 percent of Hamas rockets fired at its population centers. Moreover, it could attack rocket launchers from the air with sophisticated GPS-guided bombs. But it had no complete technological answer to these terror tunnels. Subsequently, the media reported that Hamas may have been planning a Rosh Hashanah massacre during which hundreds of Hamas terrorists would simultaneously emerge from dozens of tunnels and slaughter hundreds, if not thousands, of Israeli civilians and soldiers. If this report were true, as many in Israel believed it was, the Rosh Hashanah massacre would have been the equivalent of a hundred 9/11s in the United States. Even if it was an exaggeration, the tunnels certainly provided Hamas with the capability of wreaking havoc on Israeli citizens. There were other reports as well of planned attacks through the tunnels. As one resident of Sderot put it: "We used to look up to the sky in fear, but now we are looking down at the ground."

To me, the only questions were when Israel would act, how it would act, whether it would be successful, and what the consequences would be. Could any nation tolerate this kind of threat to its citizens? Has any nation in history ever allowed tunnels to be dug under its border which would permit death squads to operate against its people?

I discussed these issues with Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu at a dinner in his home several days after my visit to the tunnel, and it became clear that the Israeli government had been concerned about the security threats posed by these terror tunnels ever since the tunnels were used to kidnap the young soldier Gilad Shalit and kill two of his compatriots.

Ironically, it was while we were in the tunnel that we learned that three Israeli high school students had been kidnapped. Their kidnapping, which Hamas subsequently acknowledged was done by its operatives, and their murder, was the beginning of what turned into Operation Protective Edge, which ended with the destruction of most of the tunnels. This book is about that operation and why Israel was justified — legally, morally, diplomatically and politically — in responding to the dangers posed by the tunnels and the rocket attacks that preceded and followed their discovery. It is also about why so many in the media, academia, the international community, and the general public seem to blind themselves to the dangers posed by Hamas and blame Israel for actions they would demand their own governments take, were they faced with comparable threats.

Indeed, the United States is now leading a coalition of nations in an effort to destroy ISIS, employing many of the same military tactics for which some of these nations blamed Israel.

I believe that the "blame Israel" reaction has serious consequences, not only for Israel but for the people of Gaza, and for the democratic world in general. Blaming Israel only encourages Hamas to repeat its "dead baby strategy," and other terrorist groups to emulate it. This strategy, which has worked effectively, operates as follows: Hamas attacks Israel either by rockets or through tunnels, thereby forcing Israel to respond, as any democracy would do, to protect its citizens. Because Hamas fires its rockets and digs its tunnels from densely populated civilian areas, rather than from the many open areas of the Gaza Strip, the inevitable result is that a significant number of Palestinian civilians are killed. Hamas encourages this result, because it knows the media will focus more on the photographs of dead babies than on the cause of their death: namely, the decision by Hamas to use these babies and other civilians as human shields. Hamas quickly produces the dead babies to be shown around the world, while at the same time preventing the media from showing its rocket launchers and tunnels in densely populated areas. The world is outraged at the dead civilians and blames Israel for killing them. This only encourages Hamas to repeat its dead baby strategy following short cease-fires, during which they rearm and regroup.

In 2009, I published a short book entitled The Case for Moral Clarity: Israel, Hamas and Gaza. Very little has changed since that time, except that Hamas has built many more tunnels, and that the reach and sophistication of its rockets has increased.

I am writing this book to warn the world that unless Hamas's dead baby strategy is denounced and stopped — by the international community, the media, the academy, and good people of all religions, ethnicities, and nationalities — it will be coming soon "to a theater near you." Hamas repeatedly employs this despicable and unlawful strategy because it works! It works because despite the material losses Hamas suffers in its repeated military encounters with Israel, it always wins the public relations war, the legal war, the academic war, and the war for the naïve hearts, if not the wise minds, of young people. And if it is indeed winning these wars — if its dead baby strategy is working — why not repeat it every few years? That's why cease-fires between Israel and Hamas always mean that Israel "ceases" and Hamas "fires" — perhaps not immediately, while it regroups and rearms, but inevitably. And if it works for Hamas, why shouldn't other terrorist groups, like ISIS[1] and Boko Haram, adapt this strategy to their nefarious goals, as Hezbollah has already done?

The only way to end this cycle of death is to expose the Hamas dead baby strategy for what it is — a double war crime whose ultimate victims are civilian children, women, and men.

I have only one weapon in this war: my words. During the course of Operation Protective Edge I have tried to make the case for Israel's just war against Hamas's double war crime strategy. I have written more than two dozen op-eds, participated in several debates and television interviews, and have spoken to numerous audiences. With this book, I seek to reach a larger audience and influence the most important tribunal in any democracy: the court of public opinion.

The book is divided into two parts. The first covers the run-up to the recent war in Gaza from the end of Operation Cast Lead (December 2008-January 2009) to just before the beginning of Operation Protective Edge (July-August 2014). The second deals with Operation Protective Edge and its aftermath.

My goal is to show that Israel's military actions in defense of its citizens have been just, and that they have been conducted in a just manner. They are no less just than the military actions being conducted by the United States and its allies against ISIS, al-Qaeda, and other terrorist groups. And they have been carried out at least as justly, with a lower percentage of civilian-to-combatant casualties.

Yet Israel has been unjustly condemned from too many corners, thus encouraging Hamas to continue its despicable and unlawful dead baby strategy. For the sake of justice and peace, the world must stop applying a double standard to the nation-state of the Jewish people.

[1] Different acronyms have been used to refer to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, including the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant [ISIL] and simply the Islamic State [IS].

This article is the introduction from Alan Dershowitz's new eBook "Terror Tunnels: The Case for Israel's Just War Against Hamas", published by Gatestone Institute, which is currently available from, iTunes and Kobo, and will be available soon for the Barnes & Noble Nook.


At a time when Israel is under persistent attack—on the battlefield, by international organizations, and in the court of public opinion—Alan Dershowitz presents a powerful case for Israel's just war against terrorism.

In the spirit of his international bestseller The Case for Israel, Dershowitz shows why Israel's struggle against Hamas is a fight not only to protect its own citizens, but for all democracies. The nation-state of the Jewish people is providing a model for all who are threatened by terrorist groups—such as ISIS, al-Qaeda and Boko Haram.

Having himself been in one of the Hamas terror tunnels, Dershowitz explains why Israel had no choice but to send in ground troops to protect its civilians against Hamas death squads.

Dershowitz wrote this book to warn the world that unless Hamas's strategy of building terror tunnels and firing rockets from behind human shields is denounced and stopped—by the international community, the media, the academy, and good people of all religions, ethnicities, and nationalities—it will be coming soon "to a theater near you."

Covering all the hot-button issues—from the BDS movement, to the rise of anti-Semitism, to the charge of war crimes, to the prospects of peace—Terror Tunnels: The Case for Israel's Just War Against Hamas is a must-read for all who care about Israel, peace in the Mideast, human rights, and fairness.


Professor Alan M. Dershowitz of Harvard Law School was described by Newsweek as "the nation's most peripatetic civil liberties lawyer and one of its most distinguished defenders of individual rights." Italian newspaper Oggi called him "the best-known criminal lawyer in the world," and The Forward named him "Israel's single most visible defender—the Jewish state's lead attorney in the court of public opinion."

Born in Brooklyn, he was appointed to the Harvard Law School faculty at age 25 and became a full professor at age 28, the youngest in the school's history. He has been a consultant to several presidential commissions, and has advised presidents, United Nations officials, prime ministers, governors, senators, and members of Congress. More than a million people have heard him lecture around the world. He is currently the Felix Frankfurter Professor of Law Emeritus at Harvard.

Dershowitz is the author of 30 non-fiction works and two novels. More than a million of his books have been sold worldwide, in more than a dozen different languages. His recent titles include the bestseller The Case For Israel, Rights From Wrong, The Case For Peace, The Case For Moral Clarity: Israel, Hamas and Gaza, and his autobiography Taking the Stand: My Life in the Law.

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Related Topics:  Israel, Palestinian Authority
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