I doubt there is anyone who saw the devastation inflicted upon Gaza in recent days and didn’t empathise with those who are living, suffering and grieveing in these appalling circumstances. As with any conflict the price paid in blood is predominantly civilian and what makes this situation even more sad is that it falls upon the festive period – a time which is traditionally meant to represent peace and reconcilliation. Unfortunately this situation reminds us all too actuely of the dangerous world in which we live. Sadly the Arab-Israeli conflict has for the past 60 years pushed the borders of rationality on more times than I care to recall, this situation is no different.
Now it is no secret I am a great defender of the state of Israel. The fundamental problem I have with the Palestinian leadership and Hamas lies in their arrogant and point blank refusal to recognise Israels right to exist and their seeming contempt for human life. However that does not mean that I entirely condone the actions of the Israeli armed forces and government. I recognise the Israelis could show more restraint. I recognise the Palestinians have legitimate grievances. It was indeed Arab land that was partitioned and used to form the state of Israel and if the boot was on the other foot I might be tempted to react with equal passion and anger at the Israeli ‘occupation’ of ‘my’ land. Sadly history is full of ‘injustices’ but I prefer to deal with the world as it is today, not how it was yesterday. Hamas need to recognise it was their land, it isn’t now and ultiamtely never will be. We once had an empire, We don’t now.
The world has moved on. Israel does exist and has done for more than half a century. It has grown in such economic and military strength that any naieve hope of simply ‘erasing it from history’ are completely out of the question. As it should be. The Israelis have as much of a right to exist as the Palestinians and thus both sides need to realise if they are ever going to achieve peace they need to compromise. Israel has shown it is willing to compromise and has ceded some areas back to Palestinian control. Despite the common critique that it is the Israelis who are the roadblock to reform and peace, I believe the blame for these attrocities lies entirely with the Palestinian militants.
Indeed there are many out there who will blame this crisis entirely on the Israelis based entirely on the casualities. They will claim that Israel has over reacted, that they are bullying and, most gravely of all, mudering innocent Palestinians. Now it is true Israel has a reputation of being intolerant in the face of agression. History has clearly shown that they aren’t afraid to use force to defend themselves. But I ask you all to remember that that is precisely what they are doing: defending themselves.
The fact remains that if you want someone to blame look to the Palestinian militants who have been bombarding Israel with rockets fire for years. In this situation, as with the war in Lebanon a few years back, much of the world is likely to look upon the violence gripping Gaza and once again assess it simply as a numbers game: How many Palestinians were killed versus how many Israelis? Based on such a crude analysis, one could only assume that Israel is wholly guilty of the charges once again being lobbed against it of acting with disproportionate responses and heavy-handedness. Israel has lost relatively few people through the Palestinian rocket fire whereas the Israeli response as always will yeald a much higher death toll on Palestinians.
The problem with analysing a conflict based on numbers of casulaties and deaths is that it is entirely dismissive of the facts on the ground. Yes, in the years that Palestinian terrorists have been lobbing missiles at Israeli civilian targets, a total of 15-20 Israeli lives have been lost which compared to the number of Palestinian dead could seem a comparatively small number. But this analysis is ignoring the reality that every one of the more than 7,000 rockets fired was launched with the intent to kill, maim and destroy lives. Each had the potential to do just that and it is only sheer luck that forced most of those murderous weapons away from human targets.
While media reports give the impression of a battle being fought between two sides- Israel’s army and Palestinian terrorists, let it be clear that Israel’s only objective in this campaign is to defend her citizens. There are no militants in the Israeli coast towns such as Sderot- no people launching missiles at Gaza or threatening holy war against Muslims or the Palestinian population. Quite the contrary, the people whose homes and lives are being destroyed by Kassam rockets are unassuming family men and women. They are children who often have little comprehension why their school days are being constantly interrupted by the horrific sounds of a shrill siren warning them that they have less than fifteen seconds to reach safety. These are the targets of the Hamas and Fatah terrorists- nothing more and nothing less: The innocent.
The Palestinian militants are the ‘wreckers in our midst’. They seek to use bully boy tactics to provoke Israel in to response. And make no qualms of this: Israel will respond. She has the sovereign right to defend her people against unprovoked aggression and terrorism. Hamas and its militant terrorists know that by provoking Israel the response will yield Palestinian casualties. Grief, poverty and destruction pushes people toward extremism. So who will the Palestinians turn to? The answer is simple: Hamas. These terrorists have no desire for peace with Israel. They have no desire for compromise. All they desire is to wipe Israel off the map and take back ‘their’ land. Well the fact is the world has changed. It isn’t ‘their’ land anymore. Just as America isn’t ours.
There can be no disputing that the continuing loss of innocent life is painful and deeply regrettable. Yet, as we experience a situation where one side is waging a campaign of terror and murder and the other is simply fighting to defend her citizens, the world must look beyond the hard numbers and look at the hard realities. Israel has the right…no… duty, to defend herself and her people from those whose only political ambition is to kill and destroy. We must, albeit with a heavy heart, show them our approval in their fight.