.I just returned from a two week visit to Israel. I spent my last weekend in Sderot and the Western Negev. One year out from volunteering in Sderot, I have written this piece on the international media’s lack of context in covering the current conflict between Israel and Hamas.
Hundreds of journalists from all over the world just left Sderot and the surrounding areas covering the current conflict between Israel and Hamas. Where were they one year ago? Where were they four years ago, eight years ago? I spent six weeks volunteering in Sderot exactly one year ago, and I can tell you, the journalists were no where to be found.
Unfortunately for Israel, it took eight years for the international community to understand that innocent civilians in a western democracy live daily under the current threat of rocket fire. During this time, the range of the threat expanded from a tens of thousands to over one million innocent Jewish and Muslim Israeli citizens.
In these eight years, has the UN Security Council ever condemned nearly a decade of rocket fire on innocent civilians of one of its member states, Hamas’ use of human shields, and its use of schools, hospitals, and mosques to store and launch rockets at Israel?
Are you laughing at me for even thinking to ask such a question? Well you should be, because why would anyone assume the international community to be, um, sensible?
Maybe they could be just a little rational? Nah, that’s just too silly!
Furthermore, has any news organization mentioned the fact Israel is the only western democracy in the entire world that has a significant – let alone any – part of its population living under the threat of daily rocket fire?
“Oh it’s just Israel, who cares right?” “They can take it?” Or rather, “Maybe they deserve it, right?”
Well you know what I have to say that…
I’d also like to thank the international media for providing ZERO context for the humanitarian issues of the Palestinian people.
Let me describe to you a little bit of Israel’s commitment to helping the Palestinians suffering from the wrath of their authoritarian, fanatical terrorist rulers, Hamas.
From the beginning of Operation Cast Lead, December 27, 2008, until January 12, 2009:
– 926 truckloads (22,046 tons) of humanitarian aid were delivered to Gaza
– 449 dual nationals were evacuated from Gaza
– 3000 units of blood were donated by Jordan and transferred into Gaza
– 5 ambulances were donated by Turkey and transferred into Gaza
– 5 ambulances were transferred from the West Bank to Gaza on behalf of the Palestinian Red Crescent Society
– 34 people were evacuated to Israel for medical needs
On Jan. 7, 2009, the IDF decided it would ceasefire for three hours each day in order to let humanitarian aid reach civilians in the Gaza Strip.
I love when this gets mentioned, and they say three hours is simply not enough. So, Israel should stop defending its civilians all together, fully commit itself to giving aid to the other side, and allow terrorists to fire rockets at it and threaten one million of its population?
Do you find it a tad bit odd that Israel is forced not only to defend its own citizens, but those of its enemies as well? Well I don’t…I mean, isn’t every western democracy supposed to do that during wars? Duh!
I got a question for you Mr. and Mrs. International Media.
Israel is the bad guy? Are you kidding me!
What does Hamas do for Israeli civilians? Oh yeah, they’ve been terrorizing them with rockets for the last eight years!
What other country, when immersed in a full scale war, commits itself to providing humanitarian aid to their enemy? Oh yeah, Russia!
Did you know Hamas is also really nice to their innocent women and children? Yes you did, because that’s what you would assume from watching the news over the last few weeks.
However, a Palestinian child from Gaza describes how Hamas use children for combat support missions:
“We the children, in small groups and in civilian clothes, are fulfilling missions of support for the [Hamas] Resistance fighters, by transmitting messages about the movements of the enemy forces, or by bringing them ammunition and food. We ourselves are not aware of the movements of the Resistance fighters. We see them in one place, they suddenly disappear, and then reappear somewhere else. They are like ghosts, it is very hard to find them.” (Palestinian Media Watch Communique, Jan. 13, 2009).
So Hamas terrorists hide behind children. Hmm, headline story anyone?
I got an even better quote for you – this coming from a high up British dude in the U.K Military.
Colonel Richard Kemp CBE, former Commander of British Forces in Afghanistan, on the current situation in Gaza.
“Despite Israel’s extraordinary measures a tragically high number of innocent civilians have been killed and wounded. That is the inevitability of Hamas’ way of fighting. Avoiding civilian casualties when fighting among the people is always difficult. When combating an enemy that uses human shields it is impossible.” (BICOM briefing: “Gaza Situation Update,” Jan. 10, 2009)
Thank you Colonel. Only if the BBC would listen to their fellow compatriot…If they only understood that Hamas attacks Israeli civilians with lethal – not home made – rockets (with a range of over 25 KM) shipped from Iran. If they only reported that Hamas fighters hide behind children and women, and use schools and mosques as launching points to attack Israeli soldiers and civilians. If they provided the proper analysis, they would explain that when Israel does not respond to Hamas rocket fire, the terrorists succeed in making it nearly impossible for one million Muslims and Jewish Israeli civilians,or nearly 1/7 of Israel ’s population, to live with any sense of normalcy. They would also point out that if Israel responds than Hamas also wins because it launches rockets from civilian areas, and its fighters wear civilian clothing and place themselves within towns and villages, thus putting at risk thousands of innocent Palestinians, of which Israel is blamed for any harm done to them, and the international community therefore condemns Israel and pressures her to stop its defense of its own innocent population.
As a result, whether Israel responds or does not respond to terrorist rocket fire, it is a win-win situation for Hamas.
Unfortunately, as Alan Dershowitz succinctly puts it, “Until the world recognizes that Hamas is committing three war crimes – targeting Israeli civilians, using Palestinian civilians as human shields, and seeking the destruction of a member-state of the UN – and that Israel is acting in self-defense and out of military necessity, the conflict will continue” (Alan Dershowitz, “An Honorouble Warrior,” The Australian, http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,25197,24866318-7583,00.html).
Do you think the International Community or Media will ever understand the true roots of the conflict between Israel and Hamas?Do you think they will ever get the fact that its Hamas’ use of human shields, their targeting of Israeli, and even their own civilians, and their commitment to destroying Israel that is the main impediment to peace in Gaza today? Well, as Borat would so articulately proclaim…
“NOT SO MUCH!!”
In short, my return to Sderot this past week proved to me that people still don’t get it. For some reason Israel is the bad guy, and the dudes firing rockets and endangering the lives of one million innocent Muslims and Jewish Israeli civilians are the victims.
To see Benji’s previous blogs on Sderot, visit: http://www.facebook.com/l.php?u=http://90210tosderot.blogspot.com.
Good work, Benji.
I’d like to link to this in my blog.
Kibbutz Nir Oz
It’s good to see a reasonable view from an Israeli standpoint, however, the IDF’s strategy of targeting the leaders of Hamas who live in metropolitan areas is impulsive and obviously (it’s been tried for years) ineffective. The lDF needs to stop dropping bombs on populated areas. This only kills innocents and middle-aged "leaders", who don’t even physically fight.
The Qassam Rockets aren’t magically appearing, and if the IDF could cut off the supply of Qassams and blitz the installations, then the collateral damage would be far less than it currently is. The only problem with this plan is that more IDF casualties would result if this action was taken, but overall far fewer innocent women and children would suffer as a result of this conflict. Unless you have believe that Palestinians aren’t as "human" as Israelis, then this would seemingly be acceptable. Palestinian blood is red, and so is Israeli blood. Collectively, the less blood spilled over this conflict, the better.
If the European countries cry over the so called civilian lost of life they can take the palestinians over their homeland and live with them.Show me one group of people who are living the last 60years on international donation and multiplying like rabbits.They never will be able to form a State because they are not a Nation only Clans with 80- 200 families /belong to a clan/ and during the history they always killed each other .
I am here because I know Judih and am following closely this unfolding situation. Recently I have become more certain about my definite support for Israel and the absolute necessity for this extraordinary nation’s survival as the best possible way to peace in the Middle East.
If Israel "goes down," we would all have to suffer the consequences of unbridled Jihad exported into every corner of the earth. So this is not an option. Hopefully the Palestinian Authority will continue to make progress in the West Bank. The obvious strategy by Hamas is to inflame passions in the West Bank and to have an insurgency there.
I have spoken out on local community radio against the grain of pacifist/local Islamic abhorrence about the civilian casualties in Gaza, lending my support for Israel as a necessary attitude. I will be following up with letters to the congress and my senators.
I bring some credibility into this time, as I was an outspoken member of Vietnam Veterans Against the War, an in-service war resister post-Vietnam. I have been a constant critic of America’s neocolonial war making and the ab8se of military power for power and profits and ideology. This included the Iraq War, which I protested before it started and during the first 3,000 American KIA’s.
There is a difference between neocolonialist war making and war making for survival and peacekeeping. The apparent schizoid process that Israel is forced to engage in, waging war, then , as you said clearly:
"Do you find it a tad bit odd that Israel is forced not only to defend its own citizens, but those of its enemies as well? Well I donâ€™t…I mean, isnâ€™t every western democracy supposed to do that during wars? Duh!"
I knew door gunners on chopper medivacs as post war veterans who talked about killing and saving lives at the same time and were left with chronic dislocation in terms of emotional stability.
Israel needs a comprehensive healing process to endure throughout all of this. Another shoulder of support and encouragement for you from me.
Jimbo from Florida, U.S.A.
Re; Jason Smidt’s comments, though well intended I am sure, your comments are naive. Less human? Not at all my friend. Unfortunately, I believe that Arab hatred of Jews runs deeper then their love of their own children. Benjamin Netanyahu said, if the Arabs put down their weapons there would be peace in the middle east. If the Jews put down theirs, there would be no more Israel." Israel is a tiny nation trying to defend itself and they want peace. Even after the Gaza operation, rockets continue fly out of Gaza. All life is precious. Why doesn’t the rest of world help Israel deal with the terrorists?