The seventh day of Operation Protective Edge began with an increase in the number of missiles launched at Israel’s south. Earlier today Israel used a Patriot missile to intercept a Hamas drone. Yesterday the situation escalated when Hamas struck further into the heart of Israel than ever before, with a rocket that hit near Haifa – 100 miles from the Gaza Strip.
In the meantime, Jewish communities around the world have been threatened as the result of anti-Israel sentiment: A violent pro-Palestinian rally took place in Paris yesterday. A group of protesters tried to break into two synagogues in central Paris. As a result, two members of the Jewish community and officers were injured. Similar protests took place yesterday in London; Mexico City; The Hague, Holland; Malaga, Spain and other cities. Protesters demand that Israel stop bombing innocent people; they claim that Israel’s response is disproportionate.
How can Israel be blamed for aiming at innocent people, especially children, when Hamas stores and hides its missiles and other ammunition at hospitals, schools and private homes? Hamas uses innocent people, children, and hospital patients as human shields because the terrorist organization knows what the rest of the world refuses to acknowledge: That we are NOT aiming at innocent civilians. Hamas knows that the IDF targets Hamas members and terrorist activists, NOT children. Hamas knows our morals and values and takes advantage of them, while the rest of the world claims we have none.
The IDF has warned Palestinian civilians through phone calls, leaflets and small missile “knocks” on the roof to evacuate buildings before they fire. Civilians with large families live in these buildings, which Hamas uses as hiding places for its leadership and rockets. Yesterday, before attacking one of these buildings, the IDF spotted children on its roof and ceased fire. Throughout this all, Hamas has ordered families that flee to return to their homes, lest they show weakness to the Israeli enemy.
So who is playing with the lives of innocent civilians? Who is cynically using children and sick people as human shields? And what reality is the Western world buying?
I cry for our Israeli children who were born to a reality of constant threat. But I acknowledge the pain of our neighbors as well. I cry for those children in Gaza who were born into war, hatred and bombing, who live in fear. I cry for their pain, their living conditions, their misery, their lost childhoods. I cry for the Palestinian people who elected Hamas as their representatives and that they allow these terrorists to control their lives, dominate their dreams and darken their future. I do. But I blame Hamas for these tragedies, not Israel. I’m proud of our values, our morals, and our standards. We do not aim at civilians.
Hamas has been doing just that with their rockets since 2001. In the past seven days alone, millions of Israelis throughout the country have been targeted by Hamas. And their attacks are indiscriminate. They have fired at Arab villages, and today, two Bedouin boys were injured near Beer Sheva.
Because of Iron Dome, more than 1,000 rockets that should have caused damage, injuries and death in Israel were prevented. Protesters are calling Israel’s response to Hamas’ attack, one that targets civilians, disproportional. If more Israelis were wounded or killed, would that then be fair? Would that be a proportional response?
Hundreds of rallies in support of Israel take place in Jewish communities across the Jewish world. These rallies send us a clear message of support, of unity, of Jewish peoplehood. This is your message to us. Your message of solidarity becomes our strength, our power.
Together we stand with Israel, for its right to defend itself, for its right to exist, and for our joint, long lasting hope for peace.
JCC Israel Center