Jillian Selman

Why is Israel Attacking Innocent Palestinians?

Hamas holds a number of summer camps for Palestinian youth, which include grueling physical activities, military exercises and political demonstrations to show solidarity for Palestinian terrorists held in Israeli jails. Photo taken in Gaza City June 19 2014. EPA/Mohammed Saber

Jillian Selman and Rabbi Bruce Ginsburg

The question, itself, provides sorry commentary on those who raise it.  The Jewish State has repeatedly demonstrated through word and deed that innocent Palestinians are not its target. Hamas – designated as a terrorist organization by the United States and the European Union – is.

Hamas not only has genocidal designs against Jews and the Jewish State, it thumbs its nose at causes most progressives hold dear.  It is against democracy, the empowerment of women, rights for the LGBTQ+ community, and freedom of speech and religion.  Hamas leaders glorify death and encourage their young to seek it as homicidal religious “martyrs”[1].  The thousands of Hamas terrorists who overran the farm communities of Southern Israel and the Nova musical festival on October 7 were not shy about their twisted worldview.  They bathed themselves in blood up to their armpits and bragged about it, filming their depravity and distributing it to appreciative audiences the world over, as well as posting their atrocities on the social media accounts of their victims for their families to see.

We would like to think that there are many Gazans who reject Hamas’ radical ideology and are therefore simply the hapless victims of the tyrants who rule the territory. But an election and repeated surveys offer a reality check. When Hamas ran in Gaza’s sole election (2006), it won by a handy majority.  As totalitarian rulers, Hamas’ leaders have not allowed an election since, but widespread support for the party has repeatedly been gauged by the Palestinian pollster, Dr. Khalil Shikaki.  A poll his Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research conducted this month showed that in a race between the Palestinian Authority’s Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas’ political bureau head, billionaire Ismail Haniyeh, who lives in Qatar, 71% of Gaza’s voting public favored the Hamas candidate.

According to the survey, voting preferences in the West Bank are even worse!  There, fully 82% favored Hamas over the Palestinian Authority.  Not that the Palestinian Authority’s Abbas is a peacemaker’s dream. In fact, he is a lifelong Holocaust denier who incentivizes terrorism by rewarding its perpetrators with cash.  Unfortunately, bringing a third-party candidate into the mix hardly brightens the picture. When asked about Marwan Barghouti — the leader of the First and Second Intifadas who is serving five life sentences for murder — those who responded to the survey, enthusiastically gave him the edge over both Haniyeh and Abbas. Sadly, there is no escaping the conclusion that Palestinians have gotten the kind of leaders they’ve longed for.

Moreover, the Palestinian civilians have become integrated into the Hamas terrorist infrastructure by allowing the proliferation of weapons depots in their hospitals, schools, and mosques.  The doctors, teachers, and clergymen running those institutions are not blameless.  At best, they acquiesced to their institutions’ transformation into legitimate and necessary military targets.  Take for example, the well-apprised employees at Kamal Adwan Hospital who recently led Israeli interrogators to weapons stored within incubators in their maternity ward. Worse yet, all too many ostensible civilians have actually been cheerleaders and active agents of the Hamas regime — as seen in testimony from one of the released hostages that he was held in an attic by an UNRWA employee, social media posts of UNRWA administrators and employees celebrating the October 7th massacre, and reports that a former headmaster helped construct rockets for Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Add to that terrorist operatives who have surrendered to the IDF and have been identified as doctors, nurses, and other professionals, like Ahmed Kahlot, the director of the Kamal Adwan hospital, who stated that he has been a lieutenant colonel in Hamas since 2010, and identified 16 other hospital staff members who serve in the al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas.

Despite Gazans’ complicity in Hamas’ war crimes, the last thing Israel wants is to harm a civilian population.  That’s why – unlike Hamas that deliberately attacked unprepared Jews on October 7 – the Jewish State has encouraged Palestinian civilians to flee to humanitarian zones so that it can focus on eradicating the terrorist organization alone.  The IDF more recently, even took it a step further, dividing the Strip into hundreds of zones in order to eliminate the need used earlier in the war for mass evacuations. By creating these humanitarian divisions to provide Gazans with more precise information on which areas to seek and which to avoid, the Israelis actually increase the danger to their own soldiers and hobble their ability to eliminate Hamas. White House National Security Council spokesperson, John Kirby, put it best at a press briefing on December 13th when he said, “That’s basically telegraphing your punches. There are very few modern militaries in the world that would do that. I don’t know that we would do that”. But for all its efforts to distinguish between Hamas and the population it has co-opted, the Jewish State cannot be held hostage by a foe that cynically uses human shields, even launching rockets at Israel (some of which have mistakenly fallen short and taken Gazans’ lives) from within the designated humanitarian zones.  Israel has the right and obligation to destroy the weaponry aimed indiscriminately at its own civilian population especially when Hamas leaders, such as Ghazi Hamad, have clearly stated that, in keeping with the Hamas Charter, the total annihilation of Israel is their ultimate goal.  Responsibility for the humanitarian crisis unfolding in Gaza is the sole responsibility of Hamas and its myriad enablers.

It could have been different.  Though nationalist Arabs have a smorgasbord of 49 Muslim and/or Arab majority states from which to choose and Jews have but one Jewish State — for close to a century, the Jews, in cooperation with the international community, have repeatedly expressed a readiness to welcome yet another Arab/Muslim State to share the territory west of the Jordan River.  They did so in 1937 (the Peel Commission), 1939 (the British White Paper), 1947 (the Partition Plan), 1979 (the Camp David Accords), the 1980’s (the Oslo Agreements), 2000 (Israeli Prime Minister Barak’s initiative), 2005 (the Gaza Withdrawal) and 2008 (Israeli Prime Minister Olmert’s initiative).  The Arabs rejected that opportunity every time.  That’s because more than wanting another Arab state of their own, they are intent on destroying the one and only Jewish state.

History’s most persecuted people will not allow that to happen.  The Jews of Israel are the only nation to dwell in the same land, speak the same language, hold the same text sacred, celebrate the same holidays, and worship the same God as their ancestors did 3000 years ago.  We Jews are the indigenous people between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea. The Arabs hail from Arabia. The Jews, from Judea. Other than perhaps the Chinese, there is no people on Earth with a comparable claim to the land in which they dwell than the Jews. Like the imperialists before them and after them, the Arabs colonized Judea. Defying history’s multiple occupiers, the Jews have reclaimed their ancestral homeland and will not let barbarians chase them out.  But make no mistake.  As of October 7, Israel is not fighting for its life alone.  It is fighting for the survival of civilization, itself.                                                                                                                                          

[1] For a full review of UNRWA school materials:

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Rabbi Bruce Ginsburg is the Rabbi Emeritus of Congregation Sons of Israel in Woodmere, NY.  He and his wife, Rachel, immigrated to Israel in 2022.

About the Author
Jillian Selman is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor and Registered Art Therapist. She resides with her family in the United States.
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