I’ve added a lot of links to this post, with more information, photos, articles and videos. I urge you to read and watch them.
Perhaps this post shouldn’t be called “Operation Defensive Edge”, because that makes it sound like this is all about Israel’s actions, and it isn’t. Operation Defensive Edge is the response and not the story. But since Hamas doesn’t give names to its rounds of rocket fire, we’ll have to make do with “Defensive Edge” in order to differentiate between it and the previous rounds, “Defensive Pillar” also called “Cloud Pillar” in 2012 and “Cast Lead” in 2009.
The story is about a terrorist organization hell-bent on bringing destruction on Israel, while holding the people of Gaza hostage. I probably would feel a bit sorrier for those poor hostages in Gaza, if they hadn’t been the ones who elected Hamas into power in the first place, and if I knew they wouldn’t do it again if Hamas ever gave them the chance to vote democratically again.
If you live on planet earth, you’ve probably been hearing about the violence in Gaza for a few days now, but since I haven’t posted about it yet, here’s a quick recap of recent events:
On June 12th 2014, three Yeshiva students, Naftali Frankel (16), Gil-ad Shaar (16) and Eyal Yifrach (19) were kidnapped and shot point blank while they were on their way home from their studies in Gush Etzyon, south of Jerusalem. For 18 days, the entire country took part in the efforts to find the boys, but the search ended in finding their bodies. The kidnappers, Marwan Qawasme and Amar Abu-Aysha, members of Hamas, are still at large.
On the night of the boys’ funeral, angry Israeli protesters rampaged through Jerusalem and attacked Arab passerby. The next morning, the body of an Arab boy, Muhammad Abu-Khdeir (17) was found in the forest outside Jerusalem. Fingers were immediately pointed at the Jewish protesters and Arab riots ensued, in which firebombs and stones were hurled at police and Israeli cars. The light-railway line, which runs through the northern Arab neighborhood of Shuaffat, was destroyed in that neighborhood. The riots continued for a number of days.
A report claiming that Abu-Khdeir’s younger brother was also the target of a kidnapping a few days earlier turned out to be false. Six Jewish youths were arrested in connection with the murder and three of them, according to police were found to be unrelated to the murder and have been released. The murder was carried out in an especially brutal manner. Muhammad Abu Khdeir was forced to drink lighter fluid and then burnt alive. The murder was unanimously condemned by Israeli politicians and public, who expressed disgust and outrage at the heinous act. Some even called for the death penalty for the perpetrators. This is not our way.
Meanwhile, as soon as Gil-ad, Eyal and Naftali were kidnapped, Hamas stepped up its rocket fire from Gaza. The rocket fire had stopped for some time, following the previous operation in Gaza- Defensive Pillar/ Cloud Pillar, and then resumed. While the rocket fire was ‘light’, as in aimed only at the areas around the Gaza strip and in small quantities, Israel allowed itself once again to ignore it, while actually setting a ridiculous standard by which some rocket fire is apparently acceptable. But when the rocket fire intensified, and 70% of Israel’s population found itself under daily fire, it could no longer be ignored and Operation Defensive Edge ensued.
When the siren sounds, Israelis have between 15 and 90 seconds to reach shelter.
So what is Israel doing?
Israel has carried out over 1200 aerial strikes on terrorist targets within the Gaza strip, while going to great pains to avoid civilian casualties. The fact that less than 200 Gazans have been killed in 1200 precision strikes is remarkable and proves this point.
One of the means used to avoid civilian casualties is the “knock on the roof” tactic: when a building housing terrorist infrastructure is about to be bombed, the IDF first telephones the residents and warns them to evacuate. Then, a very small charge is detonated on the roof of the building, without damaging the building, warning of the impending strike. Only then, after the residents have had time to evacuate, is the strike carried out.
In addition to the precision strikes, over 40,000 reservists have been called up, and the army is currently deployed around Gaza, in preparation for a ground invasion. The purpose of such an invasion would be to locate and destroy the weapons being fired at Israel, in the event that Israel is unable to bring about the end of rocket fire on Israeli civilians through aerial strikes.
All the while, Israel continues to supply humanitarian aid, fuel and electricity to the citizens of Gaza. Ironically, the electricity supply to 70,000 Gazans was cut, when a Hamas rocket damaged Israeli power lines.
What is Hamas doing?
Hamas is the terrorist organization which rules Gaza. They were elected in a democratic election, but then took over Gaza by force from the Palestinian Authority.
In addition to Hamas, there are other terrorist organizations acting in the Gaza strip, such as Islamic Jihad. Hamas, as the ruling organization in Gaza, has the ability to restrain the Islamic Jihad from firing rockets at Israel, but usually refrains from doing so. In the recent escalation, Hamas has joined Islamic Jihad in firing rockets. This time, Hamas’s rockets have reached a lot farther than during operation Defensive Pillar in November 2012. To better understand the significance of rocket attacks, see this visualization of the rocket attacks.
Hamas has also attempted to use Israel’s efforts against it, and told Gazans to remain in their homes and even go up onto their roofs, even if they are warned of an air-strike, effectively using Gazans as human shields in order to protect their own weapons. Hamas weapons are being stored and fired from homes, schools, hospitals and mosques, in direct violation of international law.
This morning, 13 heavily armed Hamas terrorists used a tunnel to infiltrate into Israel near Kibbutz Sufa. Luckily, they were spotted before they had the chance to infiltrate the Kibbutz.
Hamas is also using psychological warfare against Israelis, by sending them threatening text messages and publishing videos in which they say they will kill all Israelis and drive them out of Israel. This tactic has been relatively unsuccessful. The messages sent by Hamas usually use atrocious grammar and spelling and serve more as comic relief for Israelis, rather than as a means to scare them.
So why can’t we just talk and sort things out?
Hamas’s founding charter, which is in force to this day, clearly states that the purpose and reason for its existence is the destruction of Israel. This is not a state, governed by rational thought and cost-benefit considerations. Everything Hamas does is calculated in order to farther the cause of wiping Israel off the map. Talking to Hamas is exactly like talking to Al-Qaeda, the organization that hijacked 4 airplanes and flew them into the Pentagon and the World Trade Center in 2001. We cannot hope for peace with Hamas, because Hamas has no wish for peace. If Hamas agrees to a ceasefire it is only for the purpose of regrouping and re-arming itself for the next round of hostilities.
Therefore, it would be foolish of Israel to agree to a ceasefire with Hamas, because the meaning of a ceasefire with Hamas is that hostilities will resume once more in a year or two, only with a better equipped Hamas. The sooner operation Defensive Edge ends, the sooner Israel will be forced into the next operation.
If we cannot hope to reason with Hamas, the best we can do is to take away its means of terrorizing civilians and hamper its attempts to re-arm.
The bottom line is this:
Israel is using weapons to defend its citizens.
Hamas is using its citizens to defend its weapons.
For the good of Gazans and Israelis alike, Hamas has to go.
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Sadly, I haven’t had as much time as I would like lately for updating this blog. I hope to be back full time in a few weeks. In the meantime, I do post short updates, photos and links to other sources on the blogs facebook page. Go in and like it for more frequent news from Israel.