Why is Israel in Gaza?
In 2005, Israel evacuated every civilian and soldier from Gaza, hoping to advance peace. In 2007, Hamas violently took over Gaza. Hamas is a terrorist group that calls for the destruction of Israel and the murder of Jews. I cannot believe they have the audacity to state this.
After years of rocket attacks from Gaza, Israel declared a targeted, defensive operation against Hamas in Gaza. This was after millions of Israelis have lived under missile attack. You all know Israel is the size of New Jersey.
What is Israel’s motive here?
The Israel Defense Forces ground operation is focused on destroying the dozens of Hamas attack tunnels that lead into Israel, launch pads used to fire missiles at Israelis and stockpiles of weapons provided by Iran.
What about civilians in Gaza?
Every innocent civilian death is a tragedy that is felt deeply by Israelis, pro-Israel supporters and Jews around the world. We value life, but the tactics used by Hamas have made civilian deaths unavoidable. In countering terrorists embedded among civilians, Israeli troops face immense challenges similar to those faced by Canadian and NATO troops in Afghanistan. Independent military experts have universally noted that Israel takes unprecedented steps to prevent civilian casualties, including the use of warning leaflets, phone calls, text messages and other means to evacuate civilians before striking Hamas targets.
In contrast, Hamas deliberately targets Israeli civilians while using Palestinians as human shields. Hamas launches missiles from civilian neighbourhoods, stores weapons in schools, mosques and homes and calls Gazans to gather at Hamas sites that Israel has announced it will target.
I am appalled at the cynical use of their people in this way and their use of civilian deaths as a public relations victory.
What about diplomacy?
Israel accepted an Egyptian-brokered and UN backed ceasefire proposal that would have ended hostilities. It was rejected by Hamas, leaving Israel no choice but to eliminate the threat to its security through a military operation.
The international community has long called for Hamas to renounce violence, recognize Israel’s right to exist and abide by agreements signed by Israelis and Palestinians. Hamas violently rejected these three basic requirements.
Aren’t both sides to blame?
Israel is the only liberal democracy in the Middle East. Like any democracy, it is not perfect. It also has a responsibility to protect its citizens. But, there is no moral equivalence between a democracy and a terrorist group, just as there was no moral equivalence between Canadian troops in Afghanistan and Al-Qaeda. Every Hamas missile fired into Israel represents another day that Israeli and Palestinian children are denied security and peace.
We all pray for the day when both peoples will be able to coexist in peace and security within mutually recognized borders. Israel has made three offers since 2000 to establish a Palestinian state on the basis of peace with Israel. Tragically, without counter-offers, all of these were rejected by Palestinian leaders.
Hamas has violently opposed peace with Israel under any circumstances and look where we are today.