The drastic oversimplification in portrayal and understanding of the current Gaza War (never mind the general Israel-Palestine conflict) is neither helpful nor healthy.

In general, there are two stances taken, and individuals must be in one or the other party:

Palestine: good, Israel: bad
On the one hand, you have Israel as the oppressor, Palestine as the oppressed, and any Palestinian freedom struggle (military or otherwise) should be supported unconditionally.

Or Israel: good, Palestine: bad.
On the other, you have Israel as the only Jewish state in the world, Palestine as an anti-Israel terrorist entity (or at least, overrun by anti-Israel terrorists), and any attempt at self-defence (military or otherwise) should be supported unconditionally.

If you’re lucky, someone might recognise that both parties contain some sort of merit, and tell you that there are “two sides to every story”.

Well, of course, there are significantly more than two sides to this story. Here is a by-no-means-exhaustive selection of the possible “sides” to the current Gaza War that one should seriously consider…

Israel
Launched an aerial operation in response to roughly two-weeks of continual rocket fire from Gaza (fire which broke a 20 month long ceasefire between Israel and Hamas)[i]. And launched a ground operation in response to Hamas’s ground infiltration of Southern Israel via a tunnel[ii]. Accepted an Egyptian brokered ceasefire agreement, later rejected by Hamas[iii].

Israeli civilians
Forced to run to bomb shelters several times every day and night to protect themselves from Hamas rockets.

Arab Israeli civilians
Faced with the same rocket fire as other Israeli citizens. Some however choose not to take shelter[iv] and others are not provided with shelters in the first place[v].

Gaza civilians
Faced with bombardment several times an hour from IDF. Hamas often place their military bases in civilian-packed areas[vi], and also have been found to encourage civilians to act as human shields[vii]. Of those who are not persuaded by Hamas, some may choose to stay in their homes and others struggle to find refuge even when they do run for cover[viii].

Palestinian Authority/ Fatah
Take a generally ambiguous stance. On the one hand portraying Israel as evil[ix] and even firing on them[x]. On the other, admitting that Israel is acting legally whereas Hamas is not[xi], and endorsing the Egyptian brokered ceasefire agreement[xii].

Israeli Defence Forces
Appearing to act legally and reasonably, by dropping leaflets and publicising when an area of Gaza is going to be bombed[xiii]. However, one man’s helpful warnings are another’s tools of psychological warfare[xiv]. Also appear to be trying to minimise civilian casualties[xv]. In reality though, there is no way to test the authenticity of the footage or images they release.

There are, of course, many more aspects to this war.

Binarisation helps no one. Just because most news outlets think you are too stupid to understand that a situation can actually be more complex than “Good vs. Bad”, doesn’t mean you should let them fool you.

So please, instead of intellectually lazy and generally unhelpful Facebook posting, do a little research and you will find yourself to be a much better ambassador for peace.

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[i] http://www.timesofisrael.com/hamas-decides-to-go-for-broke/

[ii] http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/19/world/middleeast/hamas-gaza-strip-tunnels-led-to-israels-invasion.html

[iii] http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-28305830

[iv] http://www.timesofisrael.com/defying-sirens-jerusalems-palestinians-are-rooting-for-gaza/

[v] http://www.timesofisrael.com/negev-bedouin-defenseless-as-man-killed-4-injured-by-gaza-rocket/

[vi] http://www.unrwa.org/newsroom/press-releases/unrwa-condemns-placement-rockets-second-time-one-its-schools

[vii] http://honestreporting.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/hamashumanshieldgraphic.jpg

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2vHDyuSTneA

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KakxXN5Z-XI

[viii] http://www.timesofisrael.com/fatalism-not-fear-of-hamas-keeps-farmer-home-in-beit-lahiya/

[ix] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JykupCDm2Y8#t=32

[x] http://www.timesofisrael.com/moderate-fatah-joins-hamas-and-islamic-jihad-in-missile-launches/

Link to Fatah official Facebook page:
https://www.facebook.com/fatehal3sfh

[xi] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DjzS27ylCZ8#t=66

[xii] http://www.timesofisrael.com/israel-expected-to-accept-arab-backed-truce/

Ceasefire proposal original text:
http://www.mfa.gov.eg/Arabic/minister/articles/Pages/ArticleInterviewDetails.aspx?Source=1d5b0202-c337-4794-ab10-342893d069e1&articleID=31e70bc0-7c5b-466f-9cb2-8ccdc5b587ae

[xiii] http://www.idfblog.com/blog/2014/07/17/idf-drops-warning-leaflets-gaza/

[xiv] http://www.timesofisrael.com/hamas-to-beersheba-residents-run-before-its-too-late/

http://www.palwatch.org/main.aspx?fi=762&doc_id=12101

[xv] http://www.idfblog.com/blog/2014/07/16/idf-done-minimize-harm-civilians-gaza/