From day one onwards of the Israel/Gaza conflict, several articles, blogs and major TV stations have vilified Israel in a “disproportionate” fashion. Israel, unlike any other countries who have gone to war, is stared under a microscope by a world eager to demonize and condemn this tiny country surrounded by enemies desiring her demise.
In a nutshell, the vilification and delegitimization of Israeli anti-terror tactics blame exclusively Israel with such rhetoric as “collective punishment,” “humanitarian crisis,” “Israel’s disproportionate response,” “assault on civilian population,” and a long list of unjustified accusations relying on Palestinian “eyewitnesses,” and the terrorist organization whose testimony, objectivity, and even identity could not be verified or corroborated. In fact, just recently, investigations have surfaced countering these false allegations.
These articles and blogs have failed to mention crucial facts in this conflict which render their rhetoric totally inappropriate and invalid:
- Hamas, a terrorist organization defined as such by both the U.S. and Europe, is a death-worshipping cult whose aim is the elimination of Israel as clearly stated in their charter (http://middleeast.about.com/od/palestinepalestinians/a/me080106b.htm). Thus, Israel’s countermeasures against a hostile entity conform to the requirements of international law and it has the duty, under UN Security Council Resolution 1373, to take various steps against Palestinian terrorists to protect its citizens against indiscriminate rocket attacks.
- Israel has been restraining herself for the past eight years against over 10,000 unprovoked rockets which have put close to one million citizens in the South of Israel under constant fear and stress. While Israel’s air attacks on Gaza immediately made the front page of newspapers around the world, the rocket barrages on southern Israel, and the impact they have had on the population, have rarely been mentioned, including in these two articles in the Lancet.
- Shifra Hospital, with underground bunkers, served as a command center for the Hamas leadership. That leadership survived the war because Israel wouldn’t demolish a working hospital to get at the terrorists. In fact, many attacks were aborted when it was deemed the potential harm to civilians was too great.
- During the conflict in Gaza, Hamas rounded up hundreds of Fatah loyalists, who were held in school buildings and hospitals as make-shift torture chambers and Hamas was hijacking ambulances to transport its fighters.
- Hamas exaggerated the number of civilians killed by including as “children,” Hamas fighters who are 16 or 17 years old, and as “women,” female terrorists.
- Most rhetorics especially focused on Israel’s abhorrent policy of collective punishment. Rather than rush into unjustified accusations, these signatories should know that just recently, there was an anonymous comment by a doctor from Shiffa Hospital who told an Italian newspaper “Corriere Della Sera” that the number of dead in Gaza stands at no more than 500 to 600 most of them youths recruited to Hamas’ ranks’. A similar trend of unjustified accusations against Israel occurred during the operation”Defensive Shield” where the media claimed that Israel had caused 500 deaths in Jenin, but then it turned out that there were only 54, 45 of which were armed men.
- In addition, the alleged UN school in Jabaliya which was being used to house refugees, killing 40 civilians alone has also been proven to be false. In fact, just recently, the United Nations has retracted a claim that an Israeli strike which killed more than 40 people in Northern Gaza city of Jabaliya last month hit a school run by a UN agency.
- As far as the humanitarian crisis is concerned, Israel has gone to extraordinary lengths, including the creation of the Gaza Coordination and Liaison Administration where representatives of the IDF and government ministries work day and night to prevent a humanitarian crisis in Gaza. Israel allows shipments of food, medicine, fuel and electricity to Gaza; however, there is foolproof evidence that Hamas diverts supplies for terrorist use as reported recently by United Nations accusing Hamas of stealing aid from one of its Gaza warehouses.
- As far as the disproportionality of Israel’s response, Israel’s Gaza war was called “disproportionate” on day one, even before anyone knew very much about how many people had been killed or who they were. The term “disproportionate” diverts attention from Hamas’ systematic use of human shields, and reckless and cynical use of civilian buildings and its indiscriminate rocket attacks aimed exclusively at civilians. Unlike other armies in the world, Israel was using all means to keep civilian casualties to a minimum, including sending cell phone text message warnings to Gazan residents.
- A retired British army colonel remarked that there has been “no time in the history of warfare when an army has made more efforts to reduce civilian casualties and the deaths of innocent people than the Israeli Army.”
During the next conflict, which I am certain will occur due to the implacability of Israel’s enemies, the IDF’s Gaza Coordination and Liaison Administration (CLA) should work overtime and set up a “response team” to collect information, analyze it and issue timely reports to refute the enemy’s false allegations.