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Peace, safety of civilians impossible with an armed Hamas

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Family members of IDF Sergeant Daniel Kedmi react during his funeral at Kiryat Shaul cemetery on July 29, 2014. Kedmi was killed by a mortar shell close to the Gaza border. — Marco Bottelli/Pacific Press/Sipa USA/AP Photo

An offensive truth is rearing its ugly head into our nation’s perspective of the ongoing conflict between Israel and Gaza. The media reporting has been inaccurate, distorted and clearly biased against Israel.

The undisputed fact is: Israel was attacked and is fighting Hamas to prevent further attacks against its citizens. Hamas, however, appears to be winning the war of public opinion.

The United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) met on July 23rd in Geneva and established a commission of inquiry into Israel’s alleged human rights violations in Gaza, including the suggestion that Israel has committed war crimes. Meanwhile, Amnesty International opportunistically took advantage of the conflict in Gaza by sending a mass fundraising e-mail making similar accusations against Israel. Of course, these bodies carelessly misinformed the public that Israel deliberately kills civilians.

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The current conflict with Gaza reportedly began when three boys studying in Israel were kidnapped and killed by Hamas terrorists.

To be clear, Hamas terrorists kidnapped and killed three Jewish teenagers and began a campaign of rocket-fire toward civilian populations without provocation. Hamas drew Israel into a war that neither the Israeli government nor people desired. Hamas has rejected several cease-fire proposals since hostilities began.

Hamas has – from the beginning of this conflict – routinely used Gaza civilians as human shields and the storage of weapons and missile launchers in schools, mosques, hospitals and homes. In other words, Palestinians are the main victims of the Hamas mega-terrorist machine.

While the loss of innocent lives is tragic and regrettable, the responsibility for this tragedy lies with Hamas. Its leadership has converted civilian places into military bastions and thus stripped them from the protection that international law would have given them. The blood of innocent people in these areas falls on the hands of Hamas.

Israel is undoubtedly justified in this military operation by seeking to remove rocket launchers and the dozens of tunnels that enable Hamas to store weapons and infiltrate into Israel sovereign territory to carry out mass killings of citizens. Furthermore, Israel goes above and beyond reasonable expectations of a nation under attack to protect the innocent. The Israel Defense Forces routinely take precautions that warn Gaza’s civilians of impending operations via leaflets, personal phone calls to homes, and roof knocks.

Hamas is a designated terrorist organization by dozens of countries, including the U.S., Canada, and the European Union. Hamas has opposed the Oslo peace process from the outset and still maintains its aspiration to destroy the State of Israel. Its clearly-stated goal is to establish Islamic rule over Israel and the Palestinian territories.

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A picture taken from the southern Israel-Gaza border shows rockets being fired from the Gaza strip into Israel, on July 12, 2014. — Jack Guez/AFP/Getty Images

There is no moral equivalency between Israel and Hamas, just as there is no moral equivalency between the United States and Al-Qaeda. If Hamas’ power remains the same, the conflict can never be fully resolved.

Thankfully, 28 foreign ministers of European member states called for the disarmament of Hamas and other militant groups in the Gaza Strip. If this effort came to fruition, we would finally see a reduction of the terrorist organization’s constant and deadly threat to Israeli and Palestinian citizens.

We join together to foster peace between the Israeli and Palestinian people. For that to happen, we must protect the rights of Palestinian and Israeli citizens to live safely – not at the mercy of Hamas terrorists and their murderous caprice.


Written by Alan Newman, Executive Committee Member, Jewish Community Relations Council; and Luis Fleischman, Ph.D., Vice President, Jewish Community Relations Council. Printed in the Palm Beach Post 8-2-2014

The opinions expressed in the above article do not reflect the opinions of Jewish Federation of Palm Beach County.

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