As Israel enters the fourth day of “Operation Protective Edge”, there is one simple question I would like to ask of Israel’s detractors.
What I mean by this question is how many rockets would you tolerate if they were being fired directly at you and your loved ones?
How many deadly rockets would you allow in your backyard before you said, “enough is enough”?
I suspect that most rational human beings would allow for just one rocket before demanding that action be taken.
If anything more than one rocket is unacceptable to the world at large, then why should Israel be expected to sit back and allow it to happen?
The answer certainly cannot be the old chestnut about “occupation” because, as we’ve seen on countless occasions and once again this year with another round of failed peace talks, there has been little enthusiasm or effort from Mahmoud Abbas to resolve the issues that would enable a peaceful resolution of the conflict.
Hamas has been firing rockets at such regular intervals that every time I want to hit the “publish” button, the figure changes. As of about 3 hours ago, the official number of rockets fired in the last three days was 384 (120 in the last 24 hours), with an additional 88 rockets being intercepted by the Iron Dome. The Iron Dome is only activated when it appears the rocket is going to hit populated areas. Unfortunately not all rockets are intercepted, and houses in Ashdod and Be’er Sheva were hit yesterday. Fortunately, the residents were in shelters. To top it off, four rockets were fired at Jerusalem with two falling in open areas and another two being intercepted. Hamas, remind us again how holy Jerusalem is to you?
Over the last few days, Hamas has also been able to reach places as far north as Hadera and Zikron Ya’akov, the latter of which is just 37km south of Haifa. And just as I was about to hit “publish” again, a rocket siren has sounded in Haifa, over 160km from Gaza. The distance and the range is constantly being extended so that over half of the Israeli population is now within the range of these deadly missiles. The longer range M-302 rockets used this week are the very same rockets that were found by the Israeli navy back in March when it intercepted a ship en route to Gaza. At the time, supporters and apologists for Hamas questioned Israeli claims that that the ship was headed for Gaza. Of course, we know the truth now.
The IDF blog has created an interactive map whereby you can put in your city and put the range of the M-302 into perspective. If the same rockets were fired from Sydney’s CBD, Newcastle would be well within the range of the missiles and in Melbourne, citizens of Ballarat would not be immune.
Let us also remember that the indiscriminate firing of rockets means that all Israeli citizens are under attack, not just the Jewish ones. When Hamas points rockets in the direction of Jerusalem, they are not just putting Israeli-Jews in harm’s way. One only needs to look at the last conflict, back in November 2012 when rockets came dangerously close to hitting Palestinian villages in the Gush Etzion region. Additionally, check out this picture from yesterday, posted on Twitter yesterday by Australia’s Ambassador to Israel Dave Sharma, which shows the Australian Embassy staffers in their bomb shelter, and this picture of debris that landed in Tel Aviv, just 500m from the Embassy.
A few nights ago, Prime Minister Netanyahu issued a statement in which he acknowledged the intolerable situation facing his people.
“No country on earth would remain passive in the face of hundreds of rockets fired on its cities and Israel is no exception.”
Netanyahu also addressed a very important issue, and that is of Hamas again hiding using civilians as a human shield.
“Hamas… is deliberately putting Palestinian civilians into harm’s way. It embeds its terrorists in hospitals, schools, mosques and apartment buildings throughout the Gaza Strip. Hamas is thus committing a double war crime: it targets Israeli civilians while hiding behind Palestinian civilians”.
There is no shortage of evidence of this. Even Hamas and its supporters share graphics like these:
Contrast that image with the images of Israelis running for shelter:
The Palestinian use of human shields is a crime against humanity – a war crime that is endorsed by the leaders of Hamas and other Palestinian terror groups.
Don’t take my word for it; listen to the words that come directly from the mouth of Hamas Spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri who in an interview said that
“this attests to the character of our noble, Jihad-fighting people, who defend their rights and their homes with their bare chests and their blood. The policy of people confronting the Israeli warplanes with their bare chests in order to protect their homes has proven effective against the occupation. Also, this policy reflects the character of our brave, courageous people. We in Hamas call upon our people to adopt this policy, in order to protect the Palestinian homes”. The same spokesman also stated that “all Israelis have now become legitimate targets”.
By contrast, while targeting terrorists in Hamas, the IDF does all that it can to ensure minimum civilian casualties. In this video, the Israeli Air Force is seen firing a warning shot to allow for residents to evacuate. While many do, a number of people make their way to the rooftop. The IAF in turn aborted the mission.
White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said,
“We strongly condemn the continuing rocket fire into Israel and the deliberate targeting of civilians by terrorist organisations in Gaza. No country can accept rocket fire aimed at civilians, and we support Israel’s right to defend itself against these vicious attacks”.
This view was reiterated yesterday after a phone call between President Obama and PM Netanyahu. Obama “reiterated the United States’ strong condemnation of continuing rocket fire into Israel by Hamas and other terrorist organisations in Gaza and reaffirmed Israel’s right to defend itself against these attacks”. He apparently also offered to broker a ceasefire.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon said that he firmly condemned the multiple rocket attacks launched from Gaza and declared that such attacks are “unacceptable” and must stop.
“I also urged Prime Minister Netanyahu to exercise maximum restraint in responding to provocations and to respect international obligations to protect civilians”.
And there it is; we go back to these same lines that I talked about last week, that idea of “restraint”. Secretary-General, please enlighten me as to what is a restrained response to hundreds and hundreds of rocket attacks?
Israel’s Ambassador to the UN Ron Prosor sounded a Code Red siren in the middle of a UN meeting yesterday and said,
“15 Seconds, that’s how much time you have to run for your life. Imagine having only 15 seconds to find a bomb shelter. Now imagine doing it with small children or elderly parents or an ailing friend… if you want the nations of the world to stand with you in your battle against terrorism tomorrow, stand with Israel today.”
I wonder how clearly the message got through?
Meanwhile, I have been reading some interesting commentary in the social media to the effect that while the situation may be intolerable now, Israel only has itself to blame. What does it expect after rounding up hundreds of Hamas supporters and other terror group members in the West Bank over the past few weeks? The argument goes that Israel has missed opportunities for peacemaking by going after these people but this is sheer nonsense.
In order for such a view to be remotely plausible, there must be some sign of discernible recent change in approach by the players within Palestinian politics to suggest they were amenable to peacemaking. So one has to ask whether any of the Palestinian political groups have shown any inclination towards compromise to suggest that there was a light at the end of the tunnel? (And not the tunnels used to smuggle weapons.)
Well, let’s see.
If you look at Hamas, there has been absolutely no change in its attitude, behaviour or aims. It still maintains the aim of destroying Israel and killing Jews; it still supports and applauds not only the kidnapping of Israeli soldiers but also civilians (Israeli intelligence and even Palestinian sources have confirmed that the kidnappers and murderers of Israeli teenagers Naftali Fraenkel, Gil-Ad Shaer and Eyal Yifrah were in fact members of Hamas). They still fire missiles at civilian targets and recent evidence is clear that some deadly weaponry has been amassed within Gaza. In the last few days alone, Hamas released four videos on their official television station in Hebrew stating,
“Zionists, do you still remember the rockets that made Tel Aviv and the Israeli Parliament tremble? We just wanted to tell you that we have thousands of them”.
Plus this threat,
“Zionists, wait and see terror attacks, stabbing everywhere. Wait for suicide attacks on every bus, café and street.”
There has been no change in Hamas’ genocidal Covenant, no new policies concerning the treatment of minorities such as the Christians and homosexuals within its fiefdom. The only real change that we have seen is that Hamas has been accepted into the Palestinian unity government, albeit with a confected story (by the US State Department no less) that its representatives were “technocrats” and not really Hamas people (please give us all a break).
What of the Palestinian Authority and Fatah lead by Mahmoud Abbas? During the ill-fated nine month long Kerry peace process, was there a single concession given towards the peace process by the Palestinian side? Nothing, unless you count an agreement to sit in on the process provided that Israel released some nasty criminals, many of them with blood on their hands, who on their release were celebrated by the Palestinian official media and some who, despite commitments to the contrary have continued on in their violent ways. The PA still names streets, buildings and soccer fields after terrorists, has never stopped the incitement in its media and when the three Israeli teens were kidnapped, we heard conciliatory words from Abbas in English and also in Arabic while his PR machine churned out hate-filled propaganda such as the three blind mice cartoon. Meanwhile, just two days ago, the Fatah Facebook page declared,
“A message to the Israeli government and the Israeli people: Death will reach you from the south to the north. Flee our country and you won’t die. The KN-103 rocket is on its way toward you.”
And in between all of that Abbas breached his agreement not to apply for membership of UN institutions and then moved to form the unity government with Hamas.
Despite everything, Israel has still coordinated 100 truckloads of humanitarian aid to Gaza yesterday and 130 trucks the day before. This includes 1228 tons of food, 290,000 litres of fuel and 3 trucks full of medical supplies. 180 people have also crossed into Israel for medical attention. You will read none of this in your local print media or see it on the ABC, SBS, BBC or CNN. Only the Australian seems to get it, with a fantastic editorial today entitled ‘Hamas is hurting Palestinians’. (See snip below)
Yet there are people on the face of this earth who are still naive and foolish enough to claim that Israel is a fault and that it brought this all on by itself. Such ideas present a danger not only to the Jewish State but to all those peoples of the region who want only to live in peace.