As events involving Israel unfold, the conversation in the public square is often dominated by misguided voices that present a narrative biased against Israel, counterfactual and lacking in context. The truth is frequently quite different from what the public may be hearing from the media. Be aware of the following points:
Israel was attacked. There have been 13,000 rockets, mortars and missiles launched into Israel in the past decade. That is an average of more than three attacks per day. Each time the air-raid sirens go off in Israel, residents have 10 or 15 seconds to find shelter. If you are a mom with one child in his room and another playing outside, do you think you could collect them both and get into a safe room in 15 seconds? (For a timeline of recent Gaza-Israel cross-border violence, please click here.)
Israel is entitled to defend its population. In fact, the first duty of the nation-state is to protect its citizens. Article 51 of the United Nations charter specifically codifies the inherent right of self-defense against armed attack. No other nation would tolerate incessant terrorist attacks from neighboring territories. For years. Israelis, like all people around the world, have the right to go about their daily lives in peace and security without the fear that at any moment death will rain down on them and their families.
Israel goes out of its way to operate in a highly moral fashion. Despite the necessity to respond to Hamas and Islamic Jihad attacks, Israel goes to extreme lengths to avoid hurting non-combatants, including dropping leaflets and sending text messages alerting civilians to stay away from Hamas personnel, sites where weapons are stored, smuggling tunnels, rocket factories and launch sites.
Israel is undertaking every effort to prevent civilian casualties in Gaza, unlike the leaders of Gaza. In an article in The Jerusalem Post, Colonel Richard Kemp, former Commander of British Forces in Afghanistan, wrote about Israel's last operation in Gaza, Cast Lead:
The UN estimate that there has been an average three-to one ratio of civilian to combatant deaths in such conflicts worldwide. Three civilians for every combatant killed.
That is the estimated ratio in Afghanistan: three to one.
In Iraq, and in Kosovo, it was worse: the ratio is believed to be four-to-one. Anecdotal evidence suggests the ratios were very much higher in Chechnya and Serbia.
In Gaza, it was less than one-to-one.
Hamas and Islamic Jihad actively use Palestinian civilians as human shields. It is unfortunately true that civilians are hurt and killed in conflict. But this is exacerbated by conscious policy. In 2008 Hamas member of the Palestinian Legislative Council, Fathi Hammad,said:
"For the Palestinian people death became an industry at which women excel and so do all people on this land: the elderly excel, the Jihad fighters excel, and the children excel. Accordingly [Palestinians] created a human shield of women, children, the elderly and the Jihad fighters against the Zionist bombing machine, as if they were saying to the Zionist enemy: We desire Death, as you desire Life."
Israel directs attacks at terrorists and terrorist operations while Hamas and Islamic Jihad target civilians. Rockets and missiles are falling near Tel Aviv and Jerusalem as well as throughout the south of Israel. They are intended to terrorize, maim and kill civilians. By contrast, Israel pursues terrorists with every possible precision, as evidenced by this video of the targeting of Hamas leader Ahmed Jabri.
Israel wants peace with its neighbors while Hamas strives for the destruction of the State of Israel. The Hamas charter repeatedly states that is the organization's goal. (To read more about this, please click here.) The destruction of a member state of the United Nations is against international law. And that is not Hamas' only war crime.
As Alan Dershowitz wrote in the Wall Street Journal:
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 United Nations -- and that Israel is acting in self-defense and out of military necessity, the conflict will continue.