Almost 3 weeks have passed since Hamas rockets attacks rained down on Southern Israel, abruptly ending a 6-month cease fire. Israel has since responded with air strikes and intense ground operations in order to force Hamas to end its attacks on their nation. In doing so they have brought on scrutiny from the international community concerning the deaths of civilians.
From Nikolas Sarkozy to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Israel has been criticized for using a “disproportionate” amount of force against Hamas and causing massive amounts of collateral damage. (I.E. killing innocent civilians) In Gaza, hundreds are dead, most are Hamas members, however, among them are scores of civilians.
According to Lionel Beehner, of the Huffington Post, Israel’s response violates UN Article 51 which allows a state to respond militarily in self defense, but it must use a proportionate amount of force.in retaliation. Furthermore, the 1949 Geneva Convention which states if a country is targeting civilians, whether intentional or not, it is in direct violation of these rules. In a dreamer’s world, Israel is allowed to attack Hamas, but, cannot cause one innocent death, and can only be allowed to return the situation to the status quo ante.
One of the first errors in this judgment is the never mentioned fact that Hamas is a terrorist organization, bent on the destruction of Israel. Not a sovereign democratic state which is protecting its civilian population from overt Israeli aggression. Hamas has continually bombarded and targeted Israel indiscriminately, launched attacks against Israel from deep within population centers, and used civilian deaths as a rallying point for propaganda. Israel has warned Hamas, incessantly, that their aggression would be met with fierce military force. Yet they have insisted on trying to bait Israel, even at the heavy cost faced by the Palestinian people.
Secondly, where is the objection or investigation by the UN into the 500 civilians that Hamas has killed purposefully in Israel? Israel had engaged in a massive cell phone and leaflet campaign to warn Palestinian civilians of the pending dangers of their military operations.
Hamas has done nothing even remotely close to this, their actions have been quite to the contrary. The New Republic reported that IDF mortars killed about 30 Palestinians, mostly civilians, seeking refuge in a UNRWA school. The Israeli military stated that they were receiving heavy fire coming from the school, that it was a storage facility for weapons, as well as heavily booby trapped with explosives. The attacks, at least, were later confirmed when two Gaza residents reported, under condition of anonymity, that there were in fact large volumes of fire coming from the school.
This is not a new tactic developed by Hamas, they have purposefully put civilians in harms way to draw political criticism of Israel as well as further their cause against her. Hamas is relying on the fact that they are willing to accept more civilian deaths than Israel, in order to weather this storm.
Israel’s sole intention in this is the protection of its citizens by putting a permanent end to Hamas rocket attacks and terrorism. Not one diplomatic solution that was brokered in the past has put a stable end to Hamas's aggression. In a Heritage Foundation memo it is reported that since the 2001, Hamas has fired ten thousand Qassam rockets at Israel. Also, these rockets have been supplemented by a growing number of Grad Katyusha rockets, which have a 24 km range, versus the Qassam’s 10. Most of the components for the Katyusha systems have been provided by Iran, Syria, and black market smugglers through the Gaza/Egypt tunnel systems.
Since the “world community” has been unable to cease Hamas’s violence it now sits with the Jews. Their detractors judge them while rockets still fall from the sky on Israeli towns and suicide bombers blow themselves up on Israeli soil. It’s quite easy to pass judgment on them while you sit safe and sound in your home and your only worry is what you're going to have for dinner that night.
Michael Elliot, Friday, January 9, 2009