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Terrorism Is Not War

Killing civilians is not a wartime objective.

Recent events in Israel and the response by Israel to the Hamas killing of innocent civilians has made me think about the term "war in the Middle East."

In war there are unfortunately sometimes many civilian deaths that are sometimes called collateral damage in today's parlance. Innocent civilians or infrastructure that happens to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. The objective was not to kill them, but to impact the war-fighting capability of the enemy.

What we have seen in Israel is not war on the part of Hamas. It is clearly terrorism, plain and simple. The murder of innocent civilians is not war. The goal of terrorists is to achieve some political gain by their actions. It has nothing to do with war and they look to inflict the maximum damage and terror on the people and organizations they are opposing.

While Israel may say they are "Going to war with Hamas," that is not what they are doing. They will be trying to destroy the organization and take vengeance on the perpetrators of the killings, and the political leaders behind the planning that led to all the killings of innocents.

To be clear, terrorism is not war! Punishing terrorists is not war either. It is an attempt to serve up justice.
Eric Holdeman is a contributing writer for Emergency Management magazine and is the former director of the King County, Wash., Office of Emergency Management.