No one can watch the daily dose of TV images of suffering civilians caught in crossfire and not sympathize. But is the reaction against Israel driven by emotion or rational thought?
No one can dispute that Israel, like every other country, has a right to defend itself when under rocket or missile attack. Hamas started this war with rockets (now 3,000) launched on Israeli civilians from highly concentrated civilian centers in Gaza.
Israel responded resulting in 1,800 deaths, first trying to warn civilians via leaflets and telephone calls, while Hamas told its people to stay put and that Israel was using psychological warfare.
On July 15, Israel accepted an Egyptian-proposed cease fire, supported by the U.S. and the Arab League. Hamas rejected it and six subsequent cease fires until Aug. 4. Had Hamas accepted these cease fires, the death of most Israelis and Palestinians could have been avoided. Yet the world media and the U.N. blame Israel for reacting "excessively."
This judgment is harsh if not hypocritical when you consider:
Hamas' Charter and current speeches in Arabic are committed to Israel's destruction and a return of Israel, Gaza and the West Bank to Jihadist Islamic rule. They have demonstrated their intent by launching 3,000 rockets on Israeli citizens. That there were fewer casualties is not for lack of intent. Israeli Jews and Arabs have described the terror of running into bomb shelters with 15 seconds notice. Jews learned from World War II that when someone says they intend to destroy you, take them seriously.
No one has pointed to any historical precedent in which a country reacted differently from Israel when fired upon. In every war since World War I, the civilian casualties have far outnumbered the military ones. But this did not make the response disproportionate or immoral.
In Iraq and Afghanistan, wars in which the U.S. was not defending itself against rocket attacks but was trying to eliminate a potential terrorism threat, there were more than 120,000 civilian casualties. In the current three-year Syrian war, the Huffington Post reports 160,000 casualties of which 54,000 are civilians. Where is the media or U.N. outrage on these conflicts?
Hamas says it will stop when Israel ends the occupation and blockade. But Israel left Gaza under world pressure in 2007 and was rewarded with the smuggling of thousands of rockets. The blockade is imposed by Egypt and Israel in response to Hamas' smuggling of weapons and illegal use of concrete and steel to build sophisticated attack tunnels rather than for the intended humanitarian purposes.
It is easy to judge another country from the comfort of your living room. What do you think America would do if subjected to rocket attacks from over the border? Do you have any doubt that the U.S. would eliminate the attacks and secure the peace at all costs, regardless of civilian casualties?
Richard Elliot is a resident of Kensington.