Ever since the recent air assaults and ground invasion of Gaza by the Israeli Army, there has been an international backlash against Israel. These criticisms come from people all across the world, most of whom do not see the battle lines and do not know anyone in the line of fire. However, it does not appear that Israel has acted inappropriately.
Many people like to go back and forth as to who “started” it. Unlike the Arab-Israeli conflict as a whole, it is not necessary to take this discussion back to biblical times to under stand the recent attacks. Since the dawn of the second millenium, Hamas has been firing rockets at Israelis. It began with Hamas firing rockets at Israeli settlers who were living within Gaza, but once these settlers were forcibly removed by the Israel government, Hamas proceeded to begin shooting rockets into Israel itself. Israel initially put up with it. Abbas and the Palestinian Authority have been calling for Hamas to put the rockets down and try to work out a peace accord with Israel; Hamas never listened. For just about a decade now, Israel has been subjected to random rocket fire from inside Gaza. The attacks culminated on the Christmas Day when 80 rockets slammed into southern Israel. Think of the
situation this way: if the Canadians were firing rockets into New York and the Canadian government had no attempts to crack down, would the United States not attack? If the Germans started shelling Paris, would the Parisians not have the right to respond? The Israeli government, as all governments, has a responsibility to protect its people; in fact it’s one of the few solid defined tasks that a government has.
People point to the uneven death counts as, at this moment, 480 Palestinanians have been killed and only a handful of Israeli’s have been killed by the rocket attacks. This paints a skewed picture. The news media does not report how many, out of those 480, were Hamas militants. The United Nations has reported that 25% of the victims are civilians. To do the math for you that would be 125 innocent civilians; assuming the U.N. figures are accurate. There also seems to be a lack of coverage on the strategy of Hamas. Hamas knows how the
game is played. Therefore, they set up bases in big population centers. In order for Israel to attack them, this ensures civilian casualities and an international outcry. Further, this discredits Israeli efforts to prevent innocent victims, by dropping leaflets in the streets of a desired bombing area, warning residents to leave immedately and are signed by the Israeli military commander. The Israeli government has also provided busing for the citizens of Palestine to leave the area until it is safe to return. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has stated “The people of Gaza are not our enemy”
In a recent interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour, Mark Regev, the Israeli government spokesperson was asked what the goal of the incursion was. His response was:
We want to create a situation where the civilian population in S. Israel is no longer on the recieving end of those deadly Hamas rockets. When quiet can be achieved this operation can finish.
When questioned what the difference was between the 2006 war with Hezbollah and now, Mr. Regev replied
I think we’ve learned some important lessons since 2006. I think those lessons you can already see in the way the Israeli military has acted in the last week. We are confident we can achieve a situation where the Hamas leadership understands clearly that it is not in their interest to continue shooting rockets at Israeli civilians….I’d remind you that the siutation in the North has been quiet for 2 and a half years and looking to the south we want a situation where the Sothern border will be quiet as well.
The United States has openly supported Israel. President Bush decleared:
“Since Hamas’ violent takeover in the summer of 2007, living conditions have worsened for Palestinians in Gaza, by spending its resources on rocket launchers instead of roads and schools, Hamas has demonstrated that it has no intention of serving the Palestinian people.”
President Bush has stated that he is in favor of an end to the violence, but not a cease-fire that just leaves Israel under attack one day later. The White House has called for a long term solution that allows Israelis and Palestinans to live in peace.
Israel is acting in a manner to defend their civilians, as any responsible government should.
For the entire CNN interview with Israeli spokesman Mark Regev please visit http://www.cnn.com/video/#/video/world/2009/01/03/amanpour.gaza.intv.regev.cnn?iref=videosearch
For details of the attacks on Israel since 2001 please visit http://www.mfa.gov.il/MFA/Terrorism-+Obstacle+to+Peace/Palestinian+terror+since+2000/Victims+of+Palestinian+Violence+and+Terrorism+sinc.htm