The Spectator offered readers interesting insights into urban warfare Saturday when it published the views of a British soldier with experience in intelligence in both Iraq and Afghanistan.
Writing under the pseudonym Daniel Yates, the soldier explained that routine military practices have triggered shock and outrage in Gaza:
"Urban warfare is complicated, disorientating and utterly confusing even in conventional operations. When an enemy, such as Hamas, is willing to dress in civilian clothing, attack from legally protected sites and use civilians as human shields it becomes fiendishly difficult."
Israel's use of white phosphorous is among the most criticized practices in the three-week Gaza battle. Yates wrote that reflexive cries of war crimes are misguided, and that British forces use white phosphorous "almost daily" in Afghanistan:
"White phosphorous is used because it provides an instant smokescreen, other munitions can provide a smokescreen but the effect is not instant. Faced with overwhelming enemy fire and wounded comrades, every commander would choose to screen his men instantly, to do otherwise would be negligent."
Similarly, the outcry that Israel attacked ambulances may be missing significant context. The British Army repeatedly encountered ambulances moving fighters and weaponry around Basra, Yates wrote.
Yates wasn't in Gaza, but he has been in war against jihadis who know few will speak up when they hide behind civilians or otherwise violate all of the rules of war their adversaries follow.