Monday, January 12, 2009

No – we are not all Hamas now

Marchers in the streets of Europe and the US chant, “We are all Hamas now.” They feel pity for the Palestinian civilians who are being maimed and killed due to the new Israeli-Hamas war. I feel sorry for the innocents, too, but where have these marchers been for the past many years while Hamas, working from within Gaza, sent thousands of missiles into Israel, aiming at schools, homes, and hospitals? Where have these marchers been while Hamas sent suicide bombers into Israeli shopping malls and restaurants, and onto buses full of Israeli children?

Virtually every aspect of Hamas’ operations is illegal under international humanitarian law. They have committed horrendous war crimes, yet the U.N. reserves its accusations of war crimes for the Israelis.

The Israelis have been attacked from every piece of land that they have returned, after acquiring the land through wars that were instigated by its Arab neighbors. They have forcibly removed their own settlers from Gaza and West Bank and have done everything they can to live in peace. In return, they have asked the Palestinians to recognize Israel’s right to exist and be allowed to live in peace.

D. Lawson, a correspondent with the UK Times, reports that he was recently in the town of Sderot, Israel, which is just across the border from Gaza, talking to an Israeli nurse whose home had been hit by one of the thousands of Qassam missiles that have been fired by Hamas into Israel over the past few years – ever since Israel withdrew from Gaza. She has shrapnel lodged, irremovably, just below her brain. These missiles have been fired into Israel in defiance of the peace talks between the Palestinians and Israel.

Lawson writes: “The nurse said she constantly tells her four-year-old son, who was also injured, that “there are so many good people in Gaza who are not trying to kill us”. Her anger was principally against her own government: “The day Israel withdrew from Gaza, I knew it was a terrible idea, I knew we would be a target. And I know my Arab friends will suffer when the IDF [Israel Defense Force] goes back into Gaza.”

...All the same, even the majority of those Israelis who passionately believe that the Palestinians should have their own state, and that the West Bank should be handed over to them, are convinced there was no choice for their government but to act as it has over the past fortnight. These Israelis were bitterly opposed to the military campaigns against Lebanon, but see this [Gaza] campaign as much closer to the spirit of the six-day war and the Yom Kippur war. “Ein brera”, they tell me, which is Hebrew for “no choice.”

It was no longer just Sderot which was taking hits from the Qassams, and where parents would not let their children play outdoors. The Iranian-supplied Hamas ordnance was becoming ever wider in its range. Ashkelon (which incidentally supplies all of Gaza’s electricity) and even the city of Be’er-sheva are now reachable targets, and more than 800,000 Israelis are potential victims.”

The Israeli response has been described by some as disproportionate because the consequences for the people of Gaza is far worse, in numbers of innocent dead, and more intense than anything the people of Israel have recently suffered. But Hamas targets civilians on purpose and with open expressions of bloodthirsty delight when successful. Hamas deploys suicide bombers, including women and children, and rigs up schools and houses with booby-trap explosives.

If Israel had no regard for civilian lives, it would not shower leaflets from planes and make telephone calls to residents in Gaza to warn them ahead of time that an attack is about to commence in their area because this also gives Hamas notice. This is not the act of an army devoted to military victory at all costs. The Israeli Army’s commitment to a daily three-hour one-sided ceasefire to permit the evacuation of casualties, and for the passage of humanitarian aid, during which time Hamas continues to fire their missiles into Israel. It also gives Hamas time to regroup and redeploy for future attacks.

There are people who cite the Lebanon war of 2006 as a terrible precedent because it left Hezbollah unconquered and elevated in prestige among many Arabs. It seems that few have noticed that since that campaign no Hezbollah missiles have been fired on northern Israel. In fact, when three rockets were recently fired from Lebanon, Hezbollah rushed to reassure the Israeli government that it was not involved and that the rockets were not the sort it even possessed.

Like the war with the Hezbollah in Lebanon, the Israeli attack on Gaza is sad but necessary. If the process towards an independent Palestinian state is to have any kind of future, the terrorist groups among the Palestinians, such as Hamas, must stop their terrorist acts and declare Israel’s right to exist. Until the people of Israel believe that a Palestinian state – including the heights of the West Bank, which overlook Tel Aviv – is not a threat to their own existence, the battles will continue to take the lives of innocents caught in the middle.

Hamas knew that a continuous firing of missiles into Israel would eventually lead to retaliation which would, in turn, lead to Palestinian civilian casualties. It’s what they want – so that they can say Israel is evil. If I had been the leader of Israel, and Hamas had fired the first Qassam missile into my country, into my home or the home of my neighbor, I would not have waited two or three years to see if the “talks” were successful while thousands of missiles were fired upon my people; I would have suspended “talks,” sent troops in to destroy Hamas, and reoccupied Gaza immediately.

The nations of the world should have never cut off aid to the Palestinians because it made them vulnerable to Hamas. But the people of Gaza are not totally innocent in this situation since they elected Hamas as their government instead of the Palestinian Authority. They elected Hamas, a terrorist group, because Hamas gave them food, medicine, and clothing when the rest of the world did not. It is time for Gazans to reject Hamas, and re-elect the Palestinian Authority, the legitimate authority, who has recognized Israel and wants peace.

None of these arguments seem to penetrate the dense brains of the idiots in Europe and the US who hold marches in the street while chanting, “We are all Hamas now.” These people are evidently not informed that Hamas has legalized crucifixion as a punishment for those who “weaken the spirit of the people” (passing this law on Christmas Eve), and have been shooting political enemies in the head when they find them lying in hospitals conveniently injured by Israeli bombing raids.

No, we are not all Hamas now. If there is to be no peace between Israel and her Arab neighbors, then I take the side of Israel – as does the majority in my country.