In light of recent events in the Middle East, the bombing of Israeli major cities by Hamas, Eli Hazan, IDU member party LIKUD’s Foreign Affairs Director, attempts to describe the latest escalation. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is only one of many territorial and religious conflicts worldwide, but it seems to draw more international attention than any other. In 2005, Israel vacated 10,000 settlers from the Gaza Strip, pulled out all its military forces, and withdrew to the last centimetre of the international border, a move that was strongly disputed by the Israeli public.
In 2001, twenty years ago this week, the Palestinians began firing rockets at Israel. The notion that Palestinians would cease this activity and build an independent community if Israel pulled out was thereby refuted. The rocket launches did not stop; they amplified. Having won the Palestinian elections in 2006, Hamas took over the Gaza Strip completely. Instead of investing its funds towards the welfare of the Palestinian public, it further developed its armed capabilities. These capabilities included improving its rocket array and building a system of tunnels to insert terror squads into Israel tasked with murdering the population. The targets of these squads included women, children, and babies. Notably, part of the financing to the Gaza Strip comes from Western governments and institutions, sometimes disguised as development aid and used for terrorism instead.
In 2007, Israel began a military blockade on Gaza. Egypt, which shares a border with Gaza (on its southern side), is also part of this blockade, which is not a regular blockade. Israel has attempted to strike a balance with the blockage to ensure that the humanitarian component remains in place to take care of Gaza’s innocent population. For instance, Israel transfers commercial goods that let the inhabitants live reasonably despite the situation, while attempting to prevent weapons smuggling and assistance to the war apparatus. This goal has not been fully achieved, as terror groups on the other side of the border have broken the siege. In parallel, Iran and Turkey cultivate Hamas’ power through economic and military support, as well as advocacy.
To date, Hamas and other Islamic groups launched close to 22,000 rockets and other assaults towards Israel from Gaza. To counter this, Israel has developed the Iron Dome system – a rocket interception system – that has prevented significant loss of life. Nonetheless, about 150 Israelis, including Muslims, have died from these rockets. One of the latest casualties is a six-year-old boy. Moreover, Hamas has launched many of the rockets from areas with children, knowing that Israel will not retaliate in those areas for this reason.
Instead of spending on developing rockets and digging tunnels, Hamas could have invested those funds in the Palestinian population. Now, Gazans are hungry and suffering.
In parallel, some voices in the international community have condemned Israel and demonized it. For instance, the Goldstone Committee was established immediately after operation Cast Lead (2009) to investigate Israel’s response to ongoing rocket launching from Gaza. The Committee blamed Israel for its “disproportional response” to the rockets and heavily criticized it. However, a year later, Richard Goldstone, the chairman of the Committee, wrote in a NY Times article: “If I had known then what I know now, the Goldstone Report would have been a different document.”
Moreover, the Hague International Criminal Court has ignored the fact that Israel is a democracy that does its utmost to avoid hurting innocent people, even though it has the military capability to cause significant damage to the Gaza Strip. Instead, Israel assists Gaza’s population and takes sick and wounded patients to its own hospitals.
While the goal of Hamas is clear, the ICC encourages and protects those who want to advance death while sabotaging the ones who sanctify life.
These events fuel other events in mixed cities in Israel, with a large number of Arab citizens in carrying out pogroms in recent days on Jews. In a number of riots that have been going on for several days, one Jewish person was killed, and dozens of others were injured. Unfortunately, some Jewish people responded to them,and the Israeli government is doing everything in its power to calm the situation.
Eli Vered Hazan is the Foreign Affairs Director of Likud – Israel @realEliHazan