Israel’s air assault on Gaza in response to Hamas rocket attacks is inspiring familiar international denunciations. But the best commentary we’ve heard might be this one: “If somebody was sending rockets into my house where my two daughters sleep at night, I would do everything to stop that, and would expect Israel to do the same thing.”
Barack Obama said those words in July while visiting Israel as a Presidential candidate.
Now as President-elect, Mr. Obama is maintaining an appropriate silence while deferring to the Bush Administration before his Inauguration. But his July remarks capture the essence of Israel’s right to self-defense. Moreover, the more successful Israel is this week in damaging Hamas as a terrorist force, the better chance Mr. Obama will have to make progress in facilitating a genuine Mideast peace.
Hamas is a terrorist organisation that is backed by states that promote terrorism. Rather than confronting the Israeli military in a more conventional manner (which it couldn’t, the Israeli army would crush it), Hamas launches its attacks from the backs of motor vehicles in residential areas in Gaza. Gaza is a densely populated area and Hamas is relying on the Israeli military to strike back at them and cause civilian casualties in the process. It is cowardly to hide behind innocent citizens who are just trying to make a life for themselves.
What we don’t see is widespread protest against these tactics. We also don’t see protests in the streets of Europe about the 6 000+ rockets that Hamas has fired into Israel since 2005. Instead we see complaints about the proportionality of Israel’s response to Hamas’ attacks. Perhaps Israel should fire 6 000+ missiles indiscriminately into Gaza in response. Would that be a proportionate response?
Certainly there are unintended casualties but the majority of the dead and wounded are Hamas personnel. The Israeli Air Force is targeting specific installations and structures that support Hamas’ activities including tunnels leading into Egypt which Hamas has been using to smuggle weapons into Gaza.
Critics compare Israel’s tactics to Apartheid and the Holocaust. Both comparisons couldn’t be more inaccurate. This is not a racially or faith-based initiative to keep a population group out of Israel. These are imperfect efforts to keep suicide bombers out of Israel and to keep Israeli’s safe from rockets attacks directed at their homes. What should Israel do? Open its borders to terrorists intent on killing as many people as they can in buses, at restaurants and on the street? I don’t hear anyone protesting America’s restrictions on suspected terrorists entering the USA intent on killing American citizens. Would there be so much protest if Hamas was launching rockets into the USA or Europe’s cities? I doubt it very much. We would more likely see global solidarity against such terrorism and support for decisive military action to stop the attacks.
When it comes down to it, protests against Israel’s efforts to protect its citizens is anti-semitism. The attacks are aimed at undermining the State of Israel itself both as a nation state and as a Jewish state. They are also intended to kill as many Jews as possible. These attacks are little more than a gradual process of genocide and yet I don’t see charges filed against Hamas leadership (or any other similar organisation for that matter) by the International Criminal Court for war crimes or genocide related crimes against humanity. Despite limited public comments about Israel’s right to defend itself and condemnation of Hamas’ ongoing attacks on Israel (including during the supposed cease fire recently), Israel is left to defend itself and that is what it is doing.
Duncan McLeod pointed out a couple articles that present a more balanced perspective on the attacks and which are worth reading. I have bookmarked them here.
Image credits: demo against Gaza Siege by farfahinne licensed under a Creative Commons Non-Commercial ShareAlike 2.0 license and Israeli Patrol – Gaza Strip by cromacom licensed under a Creative Commons Non-Commercial NoDerivatives 2.0 license