Over the past several weeks, Hamas has shot over 2,000 rockets at Israel—not just in her southern cities but reaching over 80% of Israel. This goes against all conventions of war. Targeting noncombatants is terror. It is not allowed under the Geneva conventions.
Israel has had no choice but to defend herself. In doing so, over 700 Palestinians have died. We are told that possibly as many as 80% were noncombatants. First of all, we cannot trust the numbers Hamas is giving, as they are a terrorist organization and more known for propaganda than honesty. Nevertheless, we have to ask ourselves, who is to blame for the high number of civilian deaths in Gaza?
Mahmoud Abbas has accused Israel of genocide. The president of Turkey said Israel’s “barbarism has surpassed even Hitler.” The UN Chief has condemned Israel in recent days calling our defensive actions “atrocious.” And even John Kerry mocked Israel’s response, not realizing his mic was on before an interview.
However, any honest human being should be able to lay the blame squarely at the feet of the ones who started this conflict: Hamas.
So why are innocent people dying in Gaza today?
1. BECAUSE HAMAS USES WOMEN AND CHILDREN AS HUMAN SHIELDS
There is ample evidence that Hamas surrounds its weapon launchers with children. This is beyond inhumane. Their goal is two-fold: to keep Israel from taking out the launchers, but better yet (in their twisted jihadi minds), “If Israel responds we can parade through the streets with dead children.”
I heard an Abbas adviser on CNN sharing, that no mother would ever allow her children to be used like this. That was the whole of her argument—emotions over photographic evidence. But to answer the question, these are the same mothers who go on TV praising Allah that their sons have become suicide bombers. The same mothers who hand out candy on the streets when Israelis are murdered—and rejoice at the news that Hamas had killed three teenage boys in cold blood.
2. BECAUSE HAMAS HIDES WEAPONS IN RESIDENTIAL NEIGHBORHOODS
This week 20 rockets were found in a United Nations-funded school! When Israel discovers something like this she has an important decision to make. Do you destroy the weapons depot, in this case, a school, and risk collateral damage, or do you pass it by, knowing those weapons will be used against Israeli citizens and troops.
Oh…and on a side note…The UN, upon discovering the rockets, handed them over to the Gaza police under Hamas control! They gave them back to be used against Israeli civilians. Mr. Ban, that is atrocious!
IDF tank shells that hit the Al Aqsa Hospital, sadly causing civilian casualties, happened only because Hamas was storing a cache of anti-tank missiles right next to the hospital. These missiles have already killed nearly a dozen Israeli soldiers. Hamas purposely hides them next to hospitals, bating Israel into bombing them.
But let’s be clear—there is a huge difference between collateral damage as Israel seeks to destroy Hamas’ ability to attack Israel, and what Hamas does: targeting Israeli civilians. It is not Israel’s fault that Hamas is simply not very good at it. But it is not for a lack of trying—over 2,000 rockets in two weeks and only three deaths.
3. BECAUSE THE ‘INNOCENT’ PALESTINIANS ELECTED HAMAS AS THEIR REPRESENTATIVES
In 2006, after Israel left Gaza and hoped for peace, the people of Gaza voted Hamas into power. They chose Hamas! Now I understand that this was largely due to the fact that the Palestinian Authority was (and is) utterly corrupt, and politicians were lining their own pockets with US, UN and European aid money. But still, the alternative was a terrorist organization that would bring Islamic rule upon Gaza and sacrifice their sons and daughters with the same amount of thought that it takes to buy a candy bar.
4. BECAUSE THE ‘INNOCENT’ PALESTINIANS DO NOT RISE UP AGAINST HAMAS AND STOP THEM FROM SENDING ROCKETS INTO ISRAELI POPULATION CENTERS
This form of terror began nearly a decade ago and Hamas still rules Gaza. The people have not risen up against them. This is the third time in five years they have invited a deadly Israeli response upon them because of endless rocket fire. And maybe yesterday, after over 700 Gazans died, the people would have had enough. So Hamas announces they have kidnapped an Israeli soldier. Like a dog that loses focus the second you wave a tennis ball in front of him, the people of Gaza immediately took to the streets to celebrate the kidnapping. (The kidnapping has yet to be substantiated.)
5. BECAUSE HAMAS HIDES TUNNEL ENTRANCES IN THE HOMES OF CIVILIANS AND IN MOSQUES
The Times of Israel reported yesterday, “Tunnel entrances have been found in houses and mosques, according to the army.”
A lot has been made of the so-called ‘massacre’ in the city of Shejaiya. There are claims of dozens of innocent women and children being killed. What you are not being told is there were over 100 terror targets including two mosques that served as Hamas compounds and weapon storage sites. (timesofisrael.org)
Furthermore, the IDF warned noncombatants to get out of that area before they entered. Did Britain and the US warn Berlin before dropping 70,000 tons of explosives on the city? Or course, the residents of Berlin didn’t wait for telephone calls and leaflets warning of the coming doom—1.7 million of them fled the city. However in Gaza, Hamas is encouraging its citizens to stay and die.
And no one condemned the US and Great Britain for the bombing of Berlin—why? Because it was not an act of aggression, but self-defense. In the same way, Israel is in Gaza only to destroy terror tunnels and take out Hamas’ ability to fire rockets.
6. HAMAS IS THRILLED AT THE NUMBER OF CIVILIAN CASUALTIES – THIS IS EXACTLY WHAT THEY WANTED
Prime Minister Netanyahu was correct when he said on Monday, “This is the cruelest, most grotesque war that I have ever seen. Not only does Hamas target [Israeli] civilians, and hide behind their civilians, it actually wants to pile up as many civilian deaths as possible” for the television cameras, in order to garner sympathy.
Yes, while Israel seeks to prevent Palestinian deaths, Hamas wants them to die—the more the merrier. This is their strategy. While Hamas commanders hide in underground bunkers, they cheer as more and more of their own people die for the cause. More fuel for the propaganda machine.
So…ask yourself…WHO IS TO BLAME?
Ron Cantor is the Executive Pastor of Tiferet Yeshua in Tel Aviv. For more information go to www.ReachTelAviv.org.