Now that the dust has settled at the close of this most recent Gaza flare-up, the truth has some chance of prevailing. Truth prevails, but sometimes it takes a really long time.
During the conflict, I watched a clip on Foxnews.com with Geraldo Rivera and co-host Andrea Tantaros. In it Mr. Rivera said some false, and blatantly ignorant statements. I could not help but watch in disbelief as complete nonsense was being aired on TV mostly unchallenged. Mr. Rivera is a talented TV anchor/host, and he knows how to debate. Unfortunately for Israel, the other co-hosts, tried to defend her mostly unsuccessfully. At one point, Mr. Rivera even alludes to the Star-of-David on his arm somehow implying that his being Jewish, makes him unquestionably impartial and that one cannot challenge his assertions on Israel vis-à-vis Gaza (or in general). Well I am Jewish too, and I do call into question all if not most of what he said.
During the video, Mr. Rivera repeated the statistics from the Gaza Ministry of Health, of 1,800 deaths and in his words he said, “Most of them women and children”.
I am not sure if Mr. Rivera is aware, that Hamas, a recognized and known terrorist origination has full control of Gaza. Meaning, any so called statistics put forth by the Gaza Ministry of Health, were and are vetted by Hamas. As such, the statistics are not just biased, but most probably false, designed to portray the maximum amount of carnage and humanitarian crisis possible, which will ultimately be attributed to Israel, by people such as Mr. Rivera (as much as I had hope not so). In fact, the IDF recently stated that over 900 “militants” were killed.
Assuming the number of deaths published by Gaza health officials is true, that would mean, a staggering of at least 50% people killed were terrorists or “militants”. That statistic may even be higher if the total number of people killed has been exaggerated. In light of this (and as we shall see, there is more to come), Mr. Rivera statements in the above mentioned video come from at best, complete ignorance or perhaps bias. (Note: unlike in Gaza, Israel is a democracy with oversight and accountability. Therefore, numbers published from Israeli government institutions, have far more weight than that of Gaza health officials.)
I hope Mr. Rivera is aware, that Hamas have a specific strategy of fighting while using civilians as shields. A Hamas manual has recently come to light, which details its’ strategy of using human shields, as reported on Fox news. By no means, can Hamas be granted immunity to fire upon a democratic sovereign state by usage of human shields. As unfortunate as it is, Hamas is a legitimate target wherever they may be. They are the ones who are killing the civilians in Gaza. This is also the policy of the United State in pursuing terrorists. Just have a look at the drone strike statistics from Pakistan. Some estimates put the kill ratio at 1:10, one militant to every ten civilians killed.
I also hope Mr. Rivera is aware of the strategies employed by the IDF to avoid civilian deaths. The IDF calls civilians within a target area before an airstrike, they send text messages, drop hundreds of thousands of leaflets announcing upcoming ground operations, putting IDF soldiers at grave risk (does Mr. Rivera even appreciate their sacrifice? They do more to protect Palestinian civilians than Hamas!). Such actions are indeed unparalleled by any other fighting army in history.
It has been revealed, that Hamas beat civilians who attempted to flee a neighborhood which received advance warning of IDF action.
Mr. Rivera also stated, “These Palestinian missiles are absolutely laughable in their military effect”. There are several problems with this statement.
1) Even if what Mr. Rivera said is true (which it isn’t), I am not sure how that undermines Israel’s right to attack Hamas. Any country coming under attack from terrorists who aim to kill its’ citizens, has every right to defend itself. The said country does not have to wait until the terrorists actually succeed in killing their civilians, before they can neutralize the threat. Any attempt to harm any country’s civilians should be dealt with accordingly.
2) I assume Mr. Rivera said that because of a lack of deaths from those rockets. Mr. Rivera of course realizes, that the reason for such a low death toll from the rockets, is because Israel has invested heavily in defending its’ populace (unlike Hamas) by building and investing billions in; a vast array of radar and early warning systems, bomb shelters throughout the country, and the technologically advanced Iron-Dome missile defense system. If a criminal fires a gun at a police officer who was wearing a bullet proof vest, and as such was not killed or injured, can the criminal then claim, “The bullet fired from my gun is absolutely laughable in its’ lethal effect” and therefore the officer cannot shoot back? Of course not.
3) The idea that every time a missile is fired, which means that Israeli civilians need to stop what they’re doing and race to a bomb shelter, in some cases in less than 15 seconds is unbelievable. By laughing off the effect of the rockets, Mr. Rivera discredited Israel’s right to take out Hamas. Apparently, the idea of mothers having to wake up in the middle of the night and make a split second decision as to which of their children they will take first to the bomb shelter, is not reason enough according to Mr. Rivera, for Israel to defend itself. In fact, it seems that millions of Israeli civilians running to bomb shelters dozens of times a day is acceptable for Mr. Rivera.
4) One of the rockets that Hamas used in this recent conflict was the M302. It has a warhead of more than 300 lbs. of explosives packed with shrapnel which could kill dozens of people and injure hundreds. This rocket has also more than a 100 km range, putting 80% of Israelis within range. This rocket by all accounts, is not laughable in its’ military effect. Even the regular Katyusha with around 40 lbs. of explosives can kill just the same. In fact it has in the past. Mr. Rivera’s audacity to make such a claim is standing on the graves of dead Israelis who died from such rockets.
5) The rockets in the past and present have caused millions if not hundreds of millions of dollars of damage, blowing up homes, cars, shops and more. This is no laughing matter.
In short, the low death toll on the Israelis side is not from Hamas’s lack of trying. In fact, they aim to cause maximum death and destruction.
Mr. Rivera also called into question the attack on UNRWA schools by the IDF. Apparently, Mr. Rivera was unaware that during this conflict it has been revealed, that several UNRWA schools were used for storing rockets. In fact, the Shifa hospital was or perhaps still is being used as a command center by Hamas. IDF soldiers have come under fire, originating from UNWRA schools and also several hospitals. A UN clinic was even booby trapped by Hamas and killed 3 IDF soldiers when they entered. As such Israel has every right to attack those UNWRA schools, clinics and hospitals that have been deemed under Hamas control and or used by Hamas, which is in full accordance with international law. The war crime here, is that Hamas is using those places. Can Hamas be granted immunity because they are in a UNWRA school, and therefore they can fire on IDF soldiers with impunity? I sincerely hope Mr. Rivera does not think so.
Mr. Rivera also criticized Israel’s use of “shelling”. It is not mine or anyone’s place to the tell the sovereign government of Israel, when defending their citizens from a genocidal terrorist origination sworn to wipe them off the map and kill all Jews worldwide, to use alternative military methods or how their troops should target such terrorists. If troops were under direct fire, the most effective way to defend them may only have been through the cover of shelling. The onus is not on the Israelis to defend why they were using “tank shells” as Mr. Rivera put it, rather the onus is on Hamas why they operate from hospitals, schools and homes. The fact that Mr. Rivera got that mixed up, reflects his level of moral bankruptcy.
What hit me the most was Mr. Rivera’s reference to Gaza as “occupied”. It is public knowledge that there is no occupation of Gaza. Israel unilaterally withdrew from Gaza in 2005, receiving promises that the Palestinians would turn it into the “Paradise of the Middle East”. Gaza, formally Gush Katif, was producing $200 million a year in hydroponic vegetables. Initially, the Israelis living there, wanted to take the greenhouses with them, $14 million worth, but they were purchased and donated to the Palestinians. Does Mr. Rivera know what happened to those greenhouses? They were destroyed and partly used to create rockets by the Palestinians in Gaza to be fired upon Israelis.
And as to the so called “siege”, I am not sure if Mr. Rivera realizes, but rockets were fired from Gaza, even before Israel withdrew as early as 2001. As such, Israel of course needed to monitor what came in. The so called “siege” is in place only because Hamas calls for and implements Jihad against Israel. Many a time has Hamas been stopped from importing advanced weaponry intended for use against Israel’s citizens. Israel was long criticized for its’ reluctance of letting concrete into Gaza. Now, it is obvious to all as to why. Tens of thousands of tons of concrete were used to build tunnels to launch attacks on Israelis (instead of building schools, shops, and homes for Gaza).
All along however, Israel supplies Gaza with electricity, with Gaza owing part of half a billion dollars in unpaid electricity bills. Israel supplies hundreds of truckloads of food, basic necessities etc. on a daily basis. Israel even provides free medical care for Palestinians from Gaza. They even setup a field hospital in Gaza for the Palestinians wounded as a result of Hamas’s violation of international law during this recent conflict. Any humanitarian crisis in Gaza is a result of Hamas and not of Israel. Israel would love to see the Palestinians in Gaza “get on with it” and start focusing their energies on building a prospering economy. In fact Israel would even help them do it. But it is the hatred perpetuated by Hamas, that does not let that happen.
In short, there is no occupation of Gaza. Israel gave it up as a gesture of peace, and the Palestinians did not just spit back in their faces, but elected Hamas that calls to wipe Israel off the map. And Mr. Rivera criticizes Israel, and furthermore claims that Israel needs to make amends by making another peace arrangement to solve the previous peace gesture they already made that blew up in their faces quite literally… Simply unbelievable.
Several days ago, Mr. Rivera really showed his true colors when he said on TV that the beheading of journalist James Foley by an ISIS operative was a declaration of war against America. Unfortunately, Mr. Rivera has a double standard. Apparently the cold-blooded murder of three Jewish teenagers, who were murdered only because they were Jewish, is not considered a declaration of war by Hamas against Israel.
What Mr. Rivera seems also to ignore is that Hamas actually declared war against Israel a long time ago. In fact, they killed more than a thousand Israelis via 80 suicide bombers in its’ diabolical history. ISIS killed but one American and that according to Mr. Rivera gives America the green light to take out ISIS. Hamas has killed hundreds of Jews, but he calls into question Israeli action against them.
In fact, Hamas’s charter unambiguously calls for the “obliteration or dissolution of Israel” and “fighting against and killing the Jews, without distinction of whether they are in Israel or elsewhere”. Hamas is evil. They want to kill all Jews and destroy Israel. And they are willing to use Palestinian civilians as cannon fodder. With this in mind, you should be throwing all your weight behind Israel, Mr. Rivera. Your statements are absolutely shameful, and you should retract them publicly.