More than 5 million Israelis live in Hamas’ missile range.
THE columnists, commentators, professors and idealistic students who push a one-sided image of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict don’t promote the peace they say they seek. They place the blame on Israel and misrepresent the facts, claiming that there is a moral equivalency between Hamas firing thousands of missiles at civilian targets and Israel trying to protect and defend its citizens.
In fact, they push peace further away by letting Palestinians believe that all they need do is wait until those who present a biased perspective of the conflict convince the rest of the world to blame Israel for a conflict that it dearly wishes did not exist.
In a guest column, [“Israel’s security means ending its oppression of Palestinians,” Opinion, Aug. 8] John McKay argues that it is Israel’s building of settlements that “undermines any hope for peace.” This misrepresents the facts. Later in his column, he puts the blame for the continued conflict on Israel and implies that there is little difference between Hamas, firing missiles at Israel, and Israel, defending its people from those missiles.
Israel’s built-up settlements cover 1.5 percent of the West Bank. Israel has withdrawn settlements and their inhabitants when it believed peace was possible. It did so in Sinai in exchange for peace with Egypt. It did so in Gaza hoping for peace with the Palestinians, which turned out unsuccessful.
In 2005, Israel withdrew from Gaza, leaving the Palestinian Authority (PA) in charge. Hamas took over from the PA in a violent overthrow. Since then, Hamas has fired more than 11,000 rockets into Israel. More than 5 million Israelis live in Hamas’ missile range. More than 500,000 Israelis have less than 60 seconds to find shelter after a rocket is launched at Israel. McKay’s column minimizes the horror of living under shelling every day for years. Palestinians in the West Bank don’t need to worry about their children returning home safely from kindergarten the way many Israelis do.
Israel, like every other country, must protect its citizens from harm and defend its territory.
From 2005 to 2009, Israel did little to stop the thousands of Hamas missiles. Finally, after four years, Israel responded in 2009. For a few months, the missiles stopped. Then they started again and, after thousands more missiles, Israel responded in 2012. Once more, after a brief pause, Hamas started digging tunnels into Israel so its terrorists could attack civilian targets and started firing missiles, again. In 2014, Israel went back into Gaza to stop the missiles and destroy the tunnels.
The former commander of British forces in Afghanistan, Col. Richard Kemp, said that during recent Israeli conflicts with Hamas, there was about one civilian casualty for every terrorist killed. The average in the world, he said, is four civilians for every combatant. The relatively low civilian casualties are even more astonishing, given that Hamas forced its civilians to remain in combat zones after Israel warned them to leave by dropping leaflets, robocalling and dropping loud, but harmless, warning bombs.
“No army in the world acts with as much discretion and great care as the IDF (Israel Defense Forces) in order to minimize damage. The U.S. and the U.K. are careful, but not as much as Israel,” concluded Kemp.
To offer a bit of history: In 1947, the United Nations divided the land into two states, one Arab, one Jewish. The Jews accepted; the Arabs refused. The Arabs started a war and lost.
After winning another defensive war in 1967, Israel captured the West Bank and Gaza and offered to trade the land for peace. The Arab League, meeting in Khartoum, Sudan, responded “no.” No peace treaty. No direct negotiations. No recognition of Israel.
Palestinian leadership rejected every subsequent Israeli proposal, most without a counteroffer — at Oslo, at Camp David, in secret negotiations between Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and President Mahmoud Abbas. Each time, Israel offered the Palestinians essentially everything they asked for, including removing settlements and half of Jerusalem. Each time, the Palestinian leadership walked away.
Not once have the Palestinians made a serious peace proposal or initiated direct negotiations.
When Israel believes that Palestinians seriously want peace with a Jewish state of Israel, and when the Palestinian leadership commands the respect of its own people and can enforce a peace agreement with Israel, there will be peace.
The Palestinian Authority has little support. Hamas has more support, but continues to reject Israel’s right to exist. Schools in the West Bank and Gaza actively teach Palestinian children to hate Israel and Israelis. Sports competitions, streets and schools are named after terrorists who killed innocent civilians. Both the Palestinian Authority and Hamas have distributed candy to children when terrorists kill Israelis.
That needs to change before there can be a real peace. And columns that misrepresent the facts on the ground do nothing to promote that change.