This current battle between Israel and Hamas has been going on for over three weeks, but we all know that this conflict has been going on for decades. Yesterday, a 72 hour ceasefire was broken within 90 minutes. While it is unclear who broke the ceasefire, the United States, Israel, and the United Nations have blamed the breach on Hamas. The bottom line is, over 1200 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza. Over 80% of the casualties in Gaza are innocent civilians, many of them children, that have been attacked by the Israeli Defense Forces. Israeli casualties have not surpassed 60, and most of them were IDF members and were killed after Israel invaded Gaza last week.
Most of the rockets fired into Israel have been intercepted by the Iron Dome system and they have had virtually no civilian casualties. While Israel claims to have invaded Gaza to destroy the “terror tunnels”, they have often attacked civilian populated areas, including malls and markets, as well as other targets such as radio stations, Gaza’s main power plant, and even UN schools which are supposed to have been safe havens for Palestinian civilians. These are just the facts.
Now, the Real Talk…
You can argue about the origins of the conflict if you want to. Some may believe that Israel was their “real” homeland of the Jewish people, while others believe that the Palestinians were the indigenous population that were forced out of their land after WWII. I have my beliefs about the origin, but the fact is, we are where we are. Peace must be a goal for the near future and this violent conflict must stop.
You can also call Hamas a terrorist organization if you want to. You can also claim that the reason Israel has been so aggressive in their retaliation, is because Hamas continues to fire rockets into Israel. Regardless of what you think, you cannot absolve Israel of their responsibility for the deaths of innocent civilians and children in Gaza. I’ve mentioned this before in previous posts, but having the right to defend your people is very different from occupation and massacre. Even before this recent outbreak of violence, Israel has controlled everything about Gaza and occupied that area for years, and they still occupy the West Bank. But even officially “withdrawing” from Gaza, they are still in essence occupying Gaza, even according to the United Nations.
In an interview with CNN’s Fareed Zakaria, Hillary Clinton says that her biggest frustration with Israel is that, “the continuing settlements… are clearly a terrible signal to send, if at the same time you claim you are looking for a two state solution”. Regardless of your views on what the right thing to do was in the 1940s, the Palestinians of today still have the right to self-determination. With the continuing settlements, occupation, movement control, and second-class citizenship, etc. by Israel, the Palestinian people will not have that right.
Now, last night on a CNN program, the Israseli ambassador to the United States, Ron Dermer, stated that Israel is not at war with the Palestinians, rather they are at war with Hamas. The problem with that statement is that they are killing hundreds of Palestinian civilians. You cannot claim that you are not at war with the people that you are killing.
You can support Israel’s right to defend their people, but that right should not come at the expense at innocent civilians. Israel needs to take a lesson from Bill Clinton. Yesterday, a recording of the former president came out from September 10, 2001 (hours before the 9/11 terrorist attacks) where he claimed that he could have killed Osama Bin Laden a few years earlier when he was in office. He said that he did not do so because he would have had to destroy a town in Kandahar which had 300 civilians and did not want to kill innocent civilians, so he didn’t kill Bin Laden. Israel also needs to think with the same moral compass when combatting those who they deem their enemies.
The United States has been Israel’s biggest supporter. But should should we support the slaughter of the innocent? Some have argued for divestment from Israel. I would agree. I have said this and I will say it again and again, the right to defend should not come at the expense of the lives of hundreds of innocent people. The right to defend should not come with the right to occupy other’s land. Anything beyond the defense of your people should not be met with support from anyone who supports human rights around the world.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will apparently be addressing the people of Israel soon. We will see what his plans are for this war in Gaza.
*Credit New York Times, CNN, and AP for the photos.