Yes, we’re back from Israel. We returned shortly before the war began.
It’s with a heavy heart that I write this entry. Israel has been forced into yet another bloody confrontation with Gaza, the third in six years. Many lives have been lost.
When Israel voluntarily left Gaza in 2005, the hope was that the residents of Gaza would use the greenhouses Israel left over to continue the very profitable agricultural enterprise Israel had abandoned. This would have given Gaza a strong economy and, in all likelihood, resulted in peaceful relations between Israel and Gaza and a high standard of living for its denizens.
No sooner had Israel left, then rockets began to be fired into cities in Israel. Instead, of using the greenhouses, they were dismantled and the metal most likely used for rockets. To make matters worse, Gazans elected Hamas, a terrorist group, to govern the territory.
Hamas has stated time and time again that its aim is to destroy Israel. After gaining control, Hamas proceeded to manufacture and buy more sophisticated rockets which it stored in homes, hospitals, schools, mosques, etc. It then acquired concrete and steel and used them to create tunnels beginning in homes in residential areas of Gaza and ending in Israel. These tunnels were to be used to kidnap and kill Israelis and to obtain weapons. Understandably, Israel tried to keep tight control over goods brought into Gaza.
The current crisis was precipitated by the kidnap and murder of three Israeli teenagers, presumably by Hamas, followed by the abduction and murder of an Arab teenager by extremist Israelis. However, the reactions of Israelis and Palestinians to these two murders is quite telling.
When the three boys were discovered dead, Israel combed Gaza looking for the kidnappers, and arrested some Hamas members. However,they were unable to locate the murderers. While Israelis grieved over the loss of the three teenagers, Palestinians rejoiced. They even pictured themselves on social networks smiling broadly and making a special three fingered salute.
When, several days later, news of the murder of the Palestinian teenager was announced, Israel said it would do all it could to capture the perpetrators.True to its word, a few days later, Israel arrested and imprisoned the murderers. There were no pictures of a joyful one fingered salute. Instead, many Israelis sent condolence messages to the boy’s parents and strongly condemned the murderers. Palestinians, even some who are Israeli citizens, rioted and participated in civil unrest.
When Hamas continued its rain of rockets on Israeli cities, including Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, Israel had no choice but to attack Gaza. The Iron Dome defense system is not perfect and no country should be subjected to incoming rocket fire. The aerial attacks were followed by a ground invasion, as the rockets continued to fall and terrorists were now popping out of tunnels killing Israeli soldiers and attempting to infiltrate Jewish kibbutzim.
Whereas Hamas tries to kill as many Israelis as it can, Israel attempts to minimize deaths by dropping leaflets, and making phone calls warning residents to leave an area prior to shelling. Hamas, however, urges residents to stay. This has resulted in civilian deaths.
Gaza is densely populated and collateral damage from explosions have also killed and injured civilians, as have mistaken targets. These deaths are very regrettable and sad. But make no mistake. Hamas knew this would happen and counted on these deaths to elicit public sympathy for their cause, which, in fact, has happened. Israel has further tried to minimize deaths by setting up field hospitals to care for wounded Gazan civilians./p>
When bombs fall in Israel, sirens sound and Israelis run to bomb shelters. Gaza has no sirens or bomb shelters for its inhabitants, apparently choosing to invest its funds in rockets and tunnels. Its soldiers, intentionally, do not wear uniforms, making it difficult to distinguish between civilians and non civilians.
I believe that peace will come when, to paraphrase Gold Meir, Hamas will love its people more than it hates Israel. Hamas’ use of human shields is unforgivable, and its desire to drive Israel into the sea unattainable. Many lives would be saved if Hamas decided to alter its destructive aim and instead accepted Israel’s right to exist and worked to establish a lasting peace. The quality of life for Gazans would then increase significantly.
I am sure that many people living in Gaza do not wish to continuously battle Israel, but would rather live a normal, peaceful, life. If their voices and votes would drown out those of Hamas and other extremist groups, Gaza could truly be a place of peace and tranquility with a good life for all.