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‘We’re using missile defense to protect our civilians, and they’re using their civilians to protect their missiles.’ – Binyamin Netanyahu (Prime Minister of Israel)
A nation that has been attacked since its very birth, these people have fled famines, wars and even Hitler’s armies. Now in their own homes they are trapped. Imagine if this was in London? A terrorist group was firing bombs into your city and your tax money had to be spent on anti-missile technologies? Do you think that any society should be forced out of fear to take such steps?
Here is some home-footage from a wedding, supposedly the happiest day of your life, being cut short by a Hamas rocket. Cheers of joy are replaced by shrills of terror. Sadly, though, for Israel this is a regular occurrence. Luckily Israel Defence Force manages to destroy the rocket mid-flight.
High profile Islamic scholar Stephen Sulleyman Schwartz contends that Israel is the historic, sacred land of the Jews, given to the Jews by God ‘as their eternal home’. And whilst some will argue that this is mere religious propaganda, it is the Palestinians who make use of their holy book to stake their own claims. However multiple scholars of Islamic faith – including Dr. Qanta A. Ahmed and Sheikh Abdul Hadi Palazzi – all agree that Israel is the land of the Jews.
Now we come to the statistics. Since 2001, an estimated 15,200 rockets and mortars have been fired into Israel – an average of three per day. That means that on average your life is brought under threat three times a day. Back in 2005, Israel withdrew its people from Gaza, actually evicting their own civilians from the area and giving the land to the Palestinians. Israel also gave the people of Gaza 3,000 greenhouses used to grow fruit and flowers for export. In response to this gesture of goodwill, the Palestinians subsequently destroyed these greenhouses and elected a radical party to lead them.
Israel has been forced to spend millions of dollars to ensure the safety of its people – that is why its military is one of the largest in the world. This is not by choice, but necessity. These people called Hamas use the civilians of Palestine as human shields.
Israel warns people before they attack an area, most recently dropping flyers indicating which buildings and areas will be bombed to destroy the Hamas bases. Civilians are also telephoned and warned of when they need to evacuate by. This is not a requirement stated in any law. Whilst it might lessen their element of surprise it indicates the humanity of Israel’s army. Al Qaeda didn’t telephone the staff in the World Trade Centre to give them a chance to flee, nor did Lee Rigby’s killers. The Israeli army targets terrorists and gives fair warning to civilians, whilst the people of Hamas attack civilians deliberately and without warning. With their ultimate goal being the loss of innocent lives.
In terms of the comparisons being made as to which side has suffered a greater loss, the mere quantitative figures do not suffice. We need to focus more on the qualitative factors. Whilst these deaths are tragic, they were not planned (i.e., the victims were not the direct targets) and are incidental to the actual operation. The Rome Statute which is used by the UN in determination of war crimes, clearly states that it is not a war crime should the attack be focused on militants and active steps are taken to reduce civilian casualties. Now Israel has done all this, whilst Hamas has continued to aim rockets at civilians and has built tunnels to smuggle in weapons.
It should also be noted that these comparisons are not fair at all. In terms of the legality surrounding such crimes the emphasis should be placed on the intent. Whilst Israel’s intention is to eradicate a threat (Hamas), Hamas’ intention is to kill civilians. Whilst the Israeli forces have been ‘more deadly’ in terms of numbers of fatalities, it would be incorrect to assume a greater crime has been committed.
Let me put it like this: if Al Qaeda were to plan to bomb Westminster but failed to do so, has a crime been committed? Yes, I am sure you would agree that the very act of plotting to take lives is itself a crime because actives steps have been taken to do so.
Now, whilst the Israeli forces have intercepted many deadly rockets from Hamas, it does not mean that the intentional killing Hamas wished to inflict has been waivered. Would the international community or the Palestinian panderers prefer that Israel not defend its citizens and allow these rockets (which as I stated earlier amount to three a day) to kill their people? Would this make things fair? I doubt you would find this fair or rational, and indeed if you did I would question your innate sense of humanity.
In the latest attempt in international diplomacy, a cease-fire agreement was drafted by the Egyptian government. Israel agreed to this but an hour into the ceasefire Hamas began firing rockets once more into Israel. This is not the sign of a party whose ultimate wish is peace. If it was, the Palestinian government would have leapt at the opportunity to resolves this – instead they continued to attack Israel who had chosen to take the cease-fire seriously.
I do not agree with violence but I do agree that a sovereign state has the right, in fact the duty, to protect itself. I also believe in the notion of accomplices. These people help Hamas, they protect it and willingly voted in this party. They too are guilty of terrorism if they do not actively assist in quashing it. There are many ways to do this. The Arab Spring showed that the modern dictator faces many threats – what if the people of Palestine were to use Twitter to anonymously inform Israel of the whereabouts of these criminals?
I truly pray for Israel and I too pray for the people of Palestine. That they will realize that Israel doesn’t want to remove them, nor does it want to kill their people – it just wants Hamas to stop threatening its people on a daily basis. Now I want you to look up at the sky, admire the clouds or the bright blue, and be grateful that unlike the people of Israel you don’t have to look up in fear as the sirens wail.