By Shimon Z. Klein 

After 8 years of Qassam rocket fire into Israel with the minimum of Israeli Army retaliation, Israel decided to react. There was no real reason for Hamas’s illogical behaviour. There is no justification for damage caused by these rockets to the population in southern Israel! The damage, apart from being physical and life threatening is also psychological. It is tough carrying out one’s daily life and having to run for shelter because of these rocket barrages. Children are scared to go to sleep at night. There are also incidents of bed wetting and nightmares. Fortunately, the loss of life has not reached catastrophic proportions because of the inaccuracies of these rockets. Nevertheless, the psychological damage to children is very often irreversible. There are also many incidents of permanent injuries as well as fatalities. The list of rocket attacks is long. 

Israel has responded to these attacks after 8 years of patience and now the world accuses Israel of using “disproportionate force”. Rockets are fired on unarmed innocent people for no apparent reason. Surely this is also “disproportionate force!” These people have not carried out any aggressive activities against Hamas or against Palestinians. The civilians are unarmed. The term “disproportionate force” is relative. The defenseless civilians are unarmed while the Hamas has been firing rockets on them for eight years with no retaliation.  

It may be helpful to try to understand why Hamas and its terrorist allies are firing rockets against innocent people in Sderot over the years. The main reason is hate for Israel and its people and the refusal of Hamas to recognize Israel’s right to exist. All that follows from this is based on this fact. They believe that by their behaviour which is based on total fantasy in their cloud and cuckoo land that they could hasten Israel’s total destruction. The Hamas Covenant is very clear on that! The biggest tragedy of it all is that they influence the Palestinians, who put them into power that this is attainable and, by their folly, they dragged their people into a tragedy that nobody really wants, apart from Hamas itself. Their belief in their fantasies of Israel’s destruction has heaped untold tragedy on the Palestinian people because of Israel’s severe military retaliation. 

The Palestinian people had overwhelmingly voted Hamas into power 3 years ago because of the corruption of the Fatah-controlled Palestinian Authority which had not done anything to alleviate the Palestinian People’s poverty in Gaza. Hamas had also done nothing in that direction apart from feeding the Palestinian people with hate for Israel based on their fantasies. Pragmatism was never part of Hamas’s lexicon. Hamas was actually strengthened by Israel. Thanks to the Mossad, Israel’s “Institute for Intelligence and Special Tasks”, the Hamas was allowed to reinforce its presence in the occupied territories. Meanwhile, Arafat’s Fatah Movement for National Liberation as well as the Palestinian Left were subjected to the most brutal form of repression and intimidation

Let us not forget that it was Israel, which in fact created Hamas. According to Zeev Sternell, historian at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, “Israel thought that it was a smart ploy to push the Islamists against the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO)”.

Israel had adopted a “divide and rule” policy in trying to maintain the occupation. It was a matter of “the enemy of my enemy is my friend”. However, this had backfired to Israel’s disadvantage, a monster terrorist group became stronger, and the result was total violence, suicide bombings and various terrorist acts over the years which climaxed into the war in Gaza today. 

Hamas knew how to manipulate the Palestinian People and their violent deeds had resulted in Israel introducing very repressive measures which also limited the freedom of the Palestinian People. This resulted in the “pressure cooker of hate” in Gaza. Gaza had been a human prison for many years. Overcrowded and poverty-stricken, Gaza is one of the most densely populated areas per square km in the world. There is no viable harbour or airport and the people are living in a crisis. Even before the intifada, Israel was more busy encouraging occupation rather than rehabilitating Gaza which was under its rule since the Six Day War of 1967 until the unilateral disengagement of August 2005. Two generations of people had grown up under appalling conditions. These people were ideal bait for the extremism of Hamas to take root. 

This war was the last thing that the people of Gaza needed. Hamas had brought it on their people. While Israel has a right to defend its citizens against Hamas terrorism in the south, it does not have the right to inflict injury on innocent Palestinian men, women and children as this war progresses. The Israeli claim that Hamas uses innocent people as human shields needs to be verified in detail. The scenes of a terrible human tragedy with so much loss of innocent lives are heart-rending! We witness the most horrifying scenes of whole families being wiped out by Israeli Army action. The human situation is deteriorating in Gaza as the war goes on and there is a definite human crisis. 

The increasing human tragedy in Gaza is not going to help Israel in her war effort. The attacks on an UNWRA school resulting in the death of 40 people who sought refuge are despicable. This must be condemned by all. According to reports, there were no Hamas terrorists sheltering there contrary to IDF claims.  

The time has come to reassess whether there is any point in continuing this war. Hamas has received a powerful blow to its capabilities and now with various mop up operations taking place, it is questionable as to whether there will not be more blood shed as a result. 

As the situation is, the IDF is preparing for the third phase of the war in Gaza. It means calling up reserves and tightening control in Gaza. Khaled Mashal, the Hamas leader, sits in his palatial home in Damascus unscathed by the suffering of the Palestinian People. He can afford to be brave while Israel’s military might wreaks destruction and havoc in Gaza. He is not ready to accept a cease-fire. Why should he? His butt is not burning! On the other hand, Ismail Haniyeh, the Hamas prime minister in Gaza is looking for ways to declare a cease-fire. His rhetoric against Israel has toned down and his speeches are colored with religious dogmas. These are signs that Hamas is cracking. The Hamas leadership in Gaza is well sheltered in bunkers under homes of Palestinians. This also places the Palestinians at severe risk of IDF attacks. So many Hamas weapon caches have been discovered by the IDF in Palestinian homes. Many of these people were not even aware that their homes were used for storing weapons. 

Before an IDF attack, the people are warned to vacate their homes. The problem is that they have nowhere to go and Hamas prevents the people from vacating so that the IDF can inflict heavy injuries on these poor people. This serves the Hamas purpose of illustrating IDF cruelty which could garner world opinion in their favour and against Israel. Hamas forces innocent men, women and children into the streets during the Israeli bombing raids to face certain death while their leaders hide underground.  

There are terrible tragedies occurring because of the war in Gaza. Some of these human rights infringements and tragedies are because of Israel’s military activity.  

According to B’tzelem reports, Israel is also using phosphorus bombs against the Palestinian population. This has been denied vehemently by the IDF spokesman.  

In light of the fighting in Gaza and in Israel, Israeli human rights groups are working together to inform the Israeli public of the impact on civilians, particularly regarding events that are not reported by the media. The data is limited. It should not be taken as a comprehensive picture of the human rights violations currently taking place. Every day that passes as the war continues, increased suffering is the result. The foolishness of the diehards in Hamas results in continued missile fire in southern Israel. Hamas has been weakened considerably but their ability to fire missiles remains intact although the number of missiles fired daily has decreased. The firing is a final act of desperation to illustrate that they still have not lost the war. Their false sense of honour remains based on their fantasies.  

Many Hamas militants are deserting and are fleeing into the Sinai Desert. When this war ends, Hamas will be weakened considerably. It remains anybody’s guess as to who will fill the Gaza vacuum of anarchy. This can result in a renewal of Israeli occupation or military rule.      

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