07/18/2014 12:54 pm ET Updated Sep 17, 2014

The Tragedy in Gaza

What we're really seeing is a proxy war by Iran against the West. The nation which sent young boys across minefields to make up for their lack of military equipment, using children as human mine-detectors with plastic keys to heaven and a false promise of "martyrdom," now supports Hamas in their bid to use "human shields" and dead civilians to achieve their political ends.

We saw this "involuntary martyrdom" in Afghanistan, where actions were taken to provoke civilian casualties, whose deaths were then exploited for political purposes. In one case - significantly in Western Afghanistan where terrorists were more influenced by Iran than Pakistan - terrorists told Afghan civilians to huddle in their homes, where they would be "protected." These de facto "suicide" attackers then got on the roof of the home, where they engaged US Aircraft, knowing that our "rules of engagement" would cause us to attack the home. Which we did. The evidence of "pre-planning" was how quickly the pictures of dead civilians hit the media - less than 24 hours after the attack, despite it's remote location.

We are seeing a variant of this in Gaza today. Hamas stores arms in mosques and hospitals, and civilian neighborhoods. Making the people who live there witting or unwitting "human shields." As we saw in Iraq, the "fighters" go into the homes of civilians to engage. Knowing this makes the home and the civilians there "targets." We first saw evidence of this in attacks against US Marines in Iraq. How quickly we saw pictures of dead civilians in the media was evidence of this tactic.

At least the Israelis fire a "warning shot" a few minutes before they destroy civilian buildings that are being used to launch or store missiles, to allow the civilians inside to escape. As they have warned civilians to evacuate areas to be attacked. We did the same before we attacked terrorists in Marjah in Afghanistan in 2010, allowing non-combatant civilians to leave.

Westerners must understand that the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli children was not a "random" event but was executed with pre-planned intelligence and deliberate timing. Terrorists in Pakistan and Syria are now competing for fighters and "new recruits" who will be inspired or inflamed to join the fight based on pictures of dead civilians and the perception of "Islam" under attack.

Sadly, some Israelis seem to have supported this strategy. The murder of a Palestinian boy by right-wing Israeli extremists fit the script perfectly. Part of the extremist strategy is to show that Western religion can be just as intolerant as their extremism. That the values of liberal democracies are not superior to their theocracy, and that if provoked liberal democracies will engage in barbarous acts just like religious extremists. I pray we prove them wrong.

Ideally, if Palestinians had treated the kidnapping and murders as a criminal act, and the Palestinian murders brought to justice (as Israelis have arrested the murderers of the Palestinian boy), this tragic fight could have been avoided. But the Iranian hand behind the Hamas and Hezballah terrorists in Palestine and Syria understand human nature and the culture of the region. Like political extremists in the US on both the left and the right, they understand they need to focus on the near-term, and seek to enrage and motivate their "base."

The Iranian advisors to Hamas and Hezballah understand they need to control the debate and message in the media, and keep it focused on dead civilians, not on the months and years of actions taken to set the conditions for this tailor-made event to support their annual summer cycle of provoked violence that supports their annual summer-cycle of fund-raising and recruiting. Not unlike Benghazi did two years ago...

The one story we do not see - and that the Iranians and their proxies do not want us to hear - is where the missiles are coming from. Many American Soldiers who were in Iraq know that the EFP (explosively formed projectiles) came from parts milled and machined in Iran, or with technical expertise and support provided by Iranians. This "proxy war" is not new...

The author is a veteran intelligence officer who supported US operations in Afghanistan from 2008-2010.