This post was originally written as a rebuttal to an article
in my local newspaper about the current Israel-Gaza War.
The local newspaper declined to publish my rebuttal.
The Gazette article quotes a local man of Palestinian origin who accuses Israeli forces of “shooting his neighbors in the street.” The article goes on to say that Hamas took about 200 hostages to “release the thousands of Palestinian people who are detained without an explanation of their charges.”
These are but two examples of untrue or distorted claims in the Gazette article.
In fact, Israel does more than any other country to avoid civilian casualties as they defend themselves against decades-long attacks by an unscrupulous enemy. That was the conclusion of an in-depth study of Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) practices by the Higher Military Group, an international group of high ranking military officers. It is Israel’s terrorist enemies—-the Hamas rulers of Gaza and the militias of the Palestinian Authority (the rulers of the West Bank)—-that deliberately target civilians, including women and children.
And those “thousands of Palestinian people who are detained without an explanation of their charges”? It is true that Israel, faced with constant terrorist assaults, has at times used preventive detention. But the vast majority of prisoners in Israeli jails are not simple “Palestinian people,” but rather, convicted terrorists, most with blood on their hands. No society could survive with these sorts of criminals on the loose.
A little background: The Jewish people have lived in the land of Israel for over 3,500 years. When the Arabs first arrived in Palestine as unwelcome invaders from Arabia (Palestinians are Arabs) Jews had already lived in the area for over 2,000 years. Jews were expelled from their homes by various forces over the centuries. For many years, Jews were a minority in the area. But there was never a time that Jews did not live in the Land of Israel. In the 1860s, a population census of Jerusalem by the Ottoman Muslim rulers of the time reported that the population of Jerusalem was majority Jewish. Jerusalem is mentioned hundreds of time in the Jewish bible and not once in the Muslim bible.
A 1947 United Nations vote partitioned the area into separate Jewish and Arab States. The Jewish Agency accepted the Partition. The Arabs vehemently rejected it. The day the occupying British forces left Palestine, the armies of five Arab countries invaded the new Jewish state. Their rhetoric was identical to that used by Hamas in the current war. They vowed to drive the Jews into the sea, that is, to destroy Israel and kill the Jews.
Since the British Peel Commission in 1938, the Arabs have been offered a Palestinian state on at least four occasions. Every time they refused. The last time, in 2008, they did not even respond to the Israeli offer to hand the Palestinians the entire Gaza Strip and virtually all of the West Bank.
The Gazette article quotes two Palestinians who complain about the “Israeli occupation.” But famed international law expert Eugene Kontorovich correctly has shown that Gaza and the West Bank are disputed territories, not occupied.
The article mentions Hamas’ “killing” of 1400 people.” But it fails to mention the pre-civilization barbarism of the Gazan attackers. They burned people alive (they put an infant in a heated kitchen over); they lobbed hand-grenades into homes, cut off women’s breasts, and cut open a pregnant woman and pulled out the fetus. At a pro-peace music festival they mercilessly gunned down and slaughtered over 200 people. They gang raped many women. In sadistic fashion they deliberately killed in front of family members. They forced 240 bloodied Jewish hostages into imprisonment in Gaza’s tunnels. They used Procams to videotape all this and then posted the videos onto social media. In Gaza, Hamas showed the video to a large and enthusiastic crowd who shouted approval of the Jew-killing.
In citing the number of Gazans killed in Israel’s aerial bombardment of Gaza, the article’s author relies solely on Hamas reports despite the well-known fact that Gazan ministries routinely lie about numbers and everything else.
Contrary to the author’s claims, Israel’s blockade has not prevented Gazan’s ability to flee to other countries. That is the doing of their Arab neighbors, the Egyptians, who have kept the Rafah border crossing with Egypt mostly closed.
Gaza is a terrorist state actively at war with Israel. Terror groups in Gaza have launched thousands of deadly rockets into Israel, aimed at Israeli population centers. They also have launched incendiary kites into Israel. (The kites were a gift from the Japanese government to the children of Gaza, stolen by Hamas for its war against the Jews) These kite attacks burned thousands of hectares of farmland and sensitive nature habitat, decimating wildlife populations.
The United Nations, never friendly to Israel, has ruled that the blockade is consistent with international law. Far from being “collective punishment” it is a vital counter-measure to prevent terrorist groups from importing dual-use materials that would be used to kill Jews.
Despite constant terrorist attacks from Gaza, Israel has consistently allowed hundreds of trucks with humanitarian supplies to enter Gaza daily from Israel, laden with water, medical supplies, food and other necessities.
And those water shortages in Gaza that are reported by the media? They have everything to do with Hamas’ regular theft of water pipes donated by the international community and brazenly stolen by Hamas to manufacture rockets to kill Israelis.
Over the years, thousands of Israeli volunteers have picked up Gazans at the Israeli border crossing. They transport Gazans in need of medical care from the border crossing, bringing them to their medical appointments at Israeli hospitals and returning them to the crossing afterward. The Gazan patients pay nothing for the transportation or medical services.
And those news reports of ambulance communication radios that Israel bars from entry into Gaza? There is a good reason for that. Palestinian terrorist groups routinely use ambulances to transport terrorists to and from their Jew-killing assignments, and to hide terrorists fleeing from Israeli authorities. This use of ambulances for military purposes is a war crime under the Geneva Conventions.
Israel’s aerial bombing campaign is very destructive. But it is the only way to defeat Hamas, which fights from civilian areas—dense urban neighborhoods, schools, hospitals, and mosques. It is not common practice for militaries around the world to allow for mass evacuation of civilians. For one thing, this humanitarian gesture allows the terrorists and fighters to flee along with the civilian population. Despite this, Israel used leaflets, phone calls and social media to ask civilians to move out of the combat area…..and it gave them two weeks to do so.
How much advance notice did Hamas’ terrorists give the Israelis who they attacked in Southern Israel? None.
A local newspaper reporter is unlikely to know the facts outlined here. But the Gazette article made many dramatic and unverified assertions about Israel’s response to Hamas’ deadly attacks. Journalistic integrity would have required the author to verify these assertions. He could have contacted the Israeli embassy in Los Angeles, a pro-Israel advocacy group, or an academic expert, to achieve a semblance of balance in the article.
It is surprising that any journalist in a Western democracy would slant his article in favor of a group like Hamas. After all, Hamas brutally represses civil liberties, including the news media. The author of the Gazette piece would be unable to ply his trade in Gaza. He would have had to conform to the tight control of Hamas, as do all reporters in Gaza. This is known because foreign reporters whose reporting displeases Hamas have been threatened and expelled from the Gaza Strip.
If the reporter had been working in Israel, rather than in Hamas-controlled Gaza, he would have been free to write as he pleases. That is worth thinking about.