Constrained by their media, liberal democracies prosecute wars in a humane manner, by singling out enemy soldiers instead of blasting them along with the crowds. Israel’s war in Gaza was perhaps the last such war, if the Arabs have the brains to learn the lessons it had to teach―and there is much evidence that they have done so. During that war, Hamas extensively employed “the untouchables”: Red Cross ambulances, UN buildings, and hospitals. The guerrillas also stepped up their use of minors.

In the next war, Hamas cannot be so stupid as to let Gazans evacuate their buildings after a “knock on the roof,” when IAF drops a dummy charge as a warning to tell the inhabitants to flee so that only a worthless building will be destroyed, perhaps along with some cheap arsenals. Instead, upon seeing the warning, Hamas will rush many more people into the buildings, expecting correctly that Jews won’t bomb a human shield.

The Goldstone report will be Hamas’ war manual; it will show the guerrillas what Israel will not do. Goldstone condemned the alleged use of human shields by IDF? Hamas will use such shields ever more extensively. After seeing that IDF never shells a civilian crowd, Gazans will flock to provide human shields for their guerrillas: a patriotic and completely safe action. Human shields will protect houses with arsenals and sniper positions. Even the mad Israeli policy of sending her soldiers into urban battles rather than risking the lives of Arab civilians won’t work: regular troops cannot storm houses full of civilian human shields. Fifty such houses with two snipers each would block the army’s advance. Jews might opt to stay in APCs, however humiliating that is for an allegedly victorious army, but that won’t help, either, as active defense does not protect well at so close distance.

Once a regular army accepts responsibility for enemy civilians, it is doomed. Palestinians send their children to Jewish soldiers with imitation guns and shahid belts. What if one child in a hundred gets a real gun or explosives?

A war is a life and death matter on the national level. There is no intermediate solution, only to kill or be killed. Until an enemy population surrenders, every one of its citizens is fair game unless he demonstrates his neutrality beyond doubt. War is prosecuted under the presumption of guilt: even small children are enemies unless proven otherwise.

All that changes with surrender: an occupying army acts as a police force, usually through its MPs, or relegates police matters to a collaborationist government. At that point, civilian rules become applicable again: locals are innocent until proven guilty. For such a situation to stand, the occupier must enjoy unhindered freedom of operation, consistent with surrender, and full cooperation by local authorities in investigating incidents and arresting the culprits―who are now regarded as criminals rather than POWs because they act against a party whom their elected government no longer recognizes as an enemy.

Dissidents exist. It is the collaborationist government’s responsibility to expel or arrest them, just as it is a government’s duty generally to extirpate local criminals. If, as is the case in the West Bank, the local authority cannot eliminate the dissidents who resist the occupier, then it ceases to be an authority, the surrender is nullified, and war resumes.