The view of Gaza on guard duty.

The view of Gaza on guard duty.

Last Thursday, I celebrated my 24th birthday. It was my first in Israel after finishing the army. Earlier in the week, my reserve unit was activated to provide an extra sense of security to the kibbutzim under threat of attacks from Gaza. I spent my birthday doing guard duty.

I live and work on Kibbutz Saad, one of those kibbutzim under attack. The past month, we have had to lock our homes as Hamas terrorists penetrated the border through attack tunnels nearby and ran to the bomb shelter as rockets fell in and around our kibbutz.  This was the norm on kibbutz before and during Operation Protective Edge.

Being under attack by so many different threats explained the need for extra security in the area. As a reservist, I was honored to be able to help.

It was clear to me who we are defending. The people of Israel, specifically those bordering Gaza cannot continue to live under this threat. Israel must defend her citizens as it has been doing during this operation.

But, I have seen governments like Brazil, Bolivia, and Equador accusing Israel of a genocide against the Palestinians in Gaza and boycotting Israel. The international media tends to depict the civilian suffering in Gaza without mentioning Israeli suffering. This bizarre reality left me with a difficult question: Who are we fighting?

Fighting between Israel, an independent nation since 1948 and the Palestinians who have yet to achieve independence, would be a logical explanation for the hostilities between Israel and Gaza, but it is not responsible for the current conflict.

There is unprecedented cooperation with the West Bank economically, security-wise, and in diplomacy. During the operation in Gaza, Israel has tried to protect civilian lives, even with Hamas combatants hiding behind civilians.

The Prime Minister and other members of the government constantly express their regret for civilian casualties and a desire to help the unfortunate people in Gaza. After all, if life were better for Palestinians in Gaza, they would be less likely to threaten the Israelis next to them.

Hamas, the government responsible for Gaza is responsible for the attacks against Israel in the south. They pursue the destruction of the State of Israel and as a result cause civilian suffering on both sides of the border.

Hamas fires rockets at civilian populations in Israel from behind civilians in Gaza. They build attack tunnels from homes in Gaza that threaten the communities across the border in Israel. Hamas’ tactics force civilians on both sides of the border to live under fear of attack.

Attacks on Israeli civilians threaten their sense of security and force Israel to attack civilians in Gaza, which challenges the IDF’s morality.

Hamas claims to represent the Palestinians in Gaza, but has done little for its civilians. Instead, they use the devices meant to rehabilitate the people to pursue war against Israel.

Hamas stations its headquarters and weapons warehouses in schools, hospitals, and Mosques, they hijack the UNRWA education programs to promote hatred and violence against Israel, and restrict Gazans’ access to essential humanitarian supplies from abroad. Hamas even uses the concrete sent to improve living conditions to reinforce their attack tunnels against Israel.

Hamas knows Israel cannot avoid hurting the civilians located in these dangerous places. They put the civilians in jeopardy to gain international sympathy from civilian casualties.

The different agencies trying to improve the conditions for people in Gaza, instead fuel Hamas’ war against Israel. It begins to explain the anger from foreign governments at Israel’s actions in Gaza.

The international desire to solve the Palestine-Israel conflict and end the suffering of people in Gaza brings many foreign journalists reporting on the situation to Gaza. Hamas manipulates these journalists to help in their war against Israel.

Hamas allows journalists to report on the situation, but restricts the reporting to show civilian tragedies due to Israeli aggression. They harass and threaten those with the journalistic integrity to show both sides of the conflict.

Too much of what enters the international media does not mention Hamas’ contribution to Palestinian suffering. It does not mention that Hamas attacks from civilian infrastructure and force civilians to stay in areas under attack. The blame for civilian casualties falls solely on Israel.

There is nothing wrong with people learning about the unfortunate civilian casualties inflicted by Israel’s army. However, they must see that Hamas is responsible.

The amount of criticism against Israel from foreign governments and media sources, shows how successful Hamas’ tactics are in shaping the international discussion. These journalists allow Hamas to continue their abusive rule in Gaza, instead of influencing positive changes in the area.

Israel is not only fighting against Hamas, they are fighting the international sympathy that blames Israel for causing Palestinian suffering, not Hamas.

To be sure, the situation for the people in Gaza is horrific. Their living conditions are unacceptable and they do not seem to be in position to help themselves.

Israel and the international community can and should play a role in improving the problems in Gaza.  A solution must address the true problem; Hamas’ manipulation of the Palestinian people and the international world that cares for them.

The one-sided criticism of Israel by foreign governments, media outlets, and others does not help the Palestinians. It ensures that the suffering will continue and that the IDF will need to fight Hamas again.

To improve the situation, the international community must work together with Israel to remove Hamas from power. They must provide aid that will truly help the people in Gaza, economically, educationally, and culturally; not allow Hamas to continue its senseless tyranny in Gaza.

The international bodies must understand their mistake in turning a blind eye to Hamas’ behavior. They allowed Hamas to arm themselves against Israel and use international aid to help their war effort. The international community must make sure it does not happen again.

Israel needs a ceasefire that will demilitarize Gaza. She must work together with the international community to ensure the demilitarization and to pursue genuine rehabilitation projects to improve the quality of life in Gaza.

The IDF has been fighting in outstanding fashion. Now it is our job, the citizens, politicians, journalists, and humanitarians to fight, so that the soldiers will not have to go in again.

Hopefully, next year I will be able to celebrate my first birthday as an Israeli citizen, not an Israeli soldier.