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Israel Gave Peace a Chance

By Alix M. Olian, None

Article 13 of the charter for Hamas—a terrorist group elected by the people of the Gaza Strip as their so-called “government”—reads as follows: “[Peace] initiatives, the so-called peaceful solutions, and the international conferences to resolve the Palestinian problem, are all contrary to the beliefs of the Islamic Resistance Movement.” In other words, any sort of peaceful solution in which Israel continues to exist is simply unacceptable to Hamas. Faced with this stark reality—that, until Israel is wiped off the map, Hamas will not stop its campaign of terror—Israel is absolutely justified in its defensive actions against Hamas.

While critics have charged that Israel continues to instigate the admittedly tragic violence in the region, they ignore the numerous efforts that the Israeli government has made to end the conflict. In the past decade, Israel has offered to withdraw from 97 percent of the West Bank, and has also unilaterally removed its forces from the Gaza Strip. But apparently even these well-intentioned efforts are not enough for the radical Hamas leadership, which has repeatedly refused to recognize Israel as a state and has called for its complete destruction. As Israel is—understandably—not going to eliminate itself in an attempt for peace, it is left with no options other than military retaliation in order to persuade Hamas to cease its terrorism.

Many people have protested Israel’s actions, arguing that its military response has been disproportionate. With all due respect, they are dead wrong. Would it be preferable if Israel fired several rockets into homes in Gaza every day without giving warning, like Hamas? After all, Hamas has not demonstrated much concern for Israeli civilians; in fact, it has repeatedly and indiscriminately fired rockets at Israeli settlements on undisputedly Israeli territory. If Israel were to do the same to Gaza—which it most assuredly has not—then it would be condemned in nearly every corner of the world. But Hamas, a radical terrorist group devoted to the overthrow of a legitimate state, apparently gets a free pass.

Nor has Hamas shown much compassion for its own people, for it often uses civilians—whom it knows Israel will go to great lengths not to kill—in order to carry out its missions. In 2006, armed Hamas terrorists barricaded themselves inside a mosque. Palestinian women gathered outside, and the terrorists managed to dress themselves in the women’s garb and escape, knowing that Israel would not fire at a group of people without knowing who among the group was the real target.

The international community has criticized Israel’s response on the basis of humanitarian concerns. It is true that the humanitarian crisis in Gaza should not be ignored. But, while many have chastised Israel for its blockade of Gaza, it is imperative to remember that there would be no need for such a drastic measure if Hamas had not started the violence against Israel. Moreover, Israel has attempted on several occasions to relieve the worst of the suffering in Gaza. Even though its Defense Forces are engaged in active combat, Israel has sent more than 10,000 tons of humanitarian aid into Gaza.

Despite propagandistic appeals bemoaning the welfare of Palestinian civilians, Hamas has done little to actually improve their situation. It has even been reported that Hamas—a “government” that should be providing for the basic needs of its people—has diverted medicine and supplies that Israel delivered for civilians in order to care for its soldiers. And the outrageous behavior has not been limited to a mere diversion of aid supplies. During last week’s humanitarian cease-fire, Hamas insurgents continued to fire rockets and small arms at Israeli aid convoys and settlements. It is horrifying that Hamas would first cry that its people are being unjustly deprived of humanitarian aid and then, when that aid is being delivered, take advantage of Israel’s generosity in order to inflict further harm.

There is also a fundamental disconnect between what critics of Israel have loudly proclaimed and what they have actually done to ameliorate the plight of Palestinian people. It is true that innocent civilians in Gaza lack some necessities. But instead of “aiding” the Palestinians by supplying them with missiles and mortars, Syria, Iran, and other countries in the region could provide them with much-needed food and medicine. A concrete improvement in the lives of everyday Palestinians will only occur when the incessant Hamas-instigated violence in the region has come to an end. But unfortunately for the long-suffering Palestinian people, this Gazan “government” doesn’t actually seem to be interested in either real peace or economic growth.

Many individuals, private organizations and national governments have repeatedly called on Israel to stop its military operations in Gaza. But where were the calls for peace when Hamas fired 771 rockets and 857 mortar-bombs at Sderot and the Negev from June 2007 to February 2008? Where were the calls for a cessation of violence when Hamas broke last year’s cease-fire? It is high time for the international community to draw the line on Hamas’ destructive behavior and realize that, until Hamas is out of power, Israel will be left with no other option than to defend its mere existence.

Alix M. Olian ’11, a Crimson editorial writer, is a social studies concentrator in Lowell House.

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