When missiles from Gaza strike Israel and inflict civilian casualties, jihadist leaders and their spokespersons in the media claim that the way to end the violence is to end Israel’s blockade or occupation. They insist that the occupation and U.S. foreign policy is the cause of the Middle East conflict – Islamic terrorists blow themselves up and murder others (we are told) because they are frustrated victims of Israeli oppression.
However, the one question that many in the media seem not to ask and Islamists might be skilled at avoiding is:
If the answer to all of the problems in the Middle East is to end Israel’s attacks on Gaza, why did the Israelis invade Gaza and the West Bank in the first place?
The Islamist propaganda machine and their allies in the media lead us to believe that the Israeli’s take over, attacks and outright occupation of Gaza and the West Bank is part of the country’s imperialistic policy as condoned by the U.S. They go on to make the flagrant accusation that Israel would like to return to the days of vibrant Jewish communities in all parts of the lands that once made up Israel during biblical times which would be accomplished by wanton slaughter and enslavement of Muslims in Israel and the occupied territories. It is true that a minority of Israelis do subscribe to this. However, contrary to what you may believe, the dominant voice in Israel is one of peaceful coexistence with its neighbors and not intrinsic warfare.
When the country was founded in 1948 Israel was a small strip of land located on the Mediterranean coast and the Israeli leadership at the time (and even to this day) supports peaceful coexistence with Muslims in and outside of the country. This being the case the reason for the occupation of territories (like Gaza) and its military campaigns against Hamas is grounded in one simple answer: self defense.
When Palestinian Muslims rejected the U.N.’s partition plan which would have granted Jews a home in a small part of Palestine, neighboring Muslim states initiated a war of extermination against Israel then that continues to this day via groups like Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and Hezbollah. All three groups are funded and armed by states like Saudi Arabia, Iran and Syria. The wars Israel has fought have been in self-defense she has the moral right to occupy the territories that have been used to attack her and endanger Israel’s existence.
So, one may ask, what about the Palestinian’s rights? Don’t they have a right to the land they once occupied in what is now known as Israel? Palestinian refugees initially left for Gaza and the West Bank of their own choosing in order to either flee the 1948 war or join the fight against the Israelis. They and other Muslims in the occupied territories who suffered from conflict with Israel are, in truth, aggressors and are not innocent victims. Those who initiate force and flagrantly disrespect the rights of others do not deserve to have their rights respected by anyone.
Simultaneously, Israeli forces also have the right to take down Gaza Palestinian homes. This is not being done to deny property rights or out of persecution. The reason for this tactic is that Palestinian homes are razed after IDF soldiers have found them to have been occupied by families or individuals housing terrorists or weapons that can be used to attack Israeli soldiers. Homes occupied by Palestinians who do not house terrorists, arms, or munitions that can be used against Israeli forces are, for the most part, left alone.
Any person who tries to steal the property of another by force or fraud or, even worse, attempts to murder someone has no rights. A thief is put in jail as punishment for his or her act and to prevent the recurrence of the crime they committed. Consequently, Palestinians in the contested territories are deprived of some (or all) of their freedoms because they have looted and murdered innocent civilians in and out of the occupied territories. There is no evidence that they would change if given independence.
The situation the Palestinians in Gaza are in now and any casualties or deaths of civilians there that result from conflicts in the occupied territories is the fault of groups like Hamas and Fatah who keep Palestinians in their present situation. Hamas rules the territories with an iron fist while supporting terrorist activities and rocket attacks against Israeli civilians despite negotiated cease-fire agreements. The Palestinian authority formerly controlled by Fatah and now ruled by Hamas has one objective: the destruction of Israel and the death of the Jews. If taken to its irrational, illogical conclusions this also means the slaughter not only of the Jews but also other religious and ethnic groups (including Muslims) that live in the country as well.
In opposing the occupation the Islamists really want Israel to halt its territorial occupation and naval blockades so the they can have license to initiate more terrorist and rocket attacks in order to destroy her. As a result, Israel has no alternative but to occupy Gaza, the Golan Heights, and the West Bank. This action has been imposed on Israel by her enemies and is not being done out of a want to slaughter Muslims or due to mindless imperialism.
In the past Israel has made numerous concessions but, rightly, will not give in on allowing a Palestinian state. If she does, Israeli leaders know to do so is suicide. Israelis want to be left alone and have no reason to want to conquer her neighbors. If she wanted to she would have done that long ago. However, the country’s hands-off approach is too much to ask from jihadist groups hell-bent on seeing Israel’s demise.
The Israelis overall have shown remarkable restraint and concern for civilians, including Palestinian civilians, during periods of armed conflict. For example, the Associated Press reported on December 27th, 2008 that, despite the risk of militants being informed, thousands of Gazans recieved pre-recorded cell phone messages in Arabic from the Israeli military prior to air strikes urging them to leave their homes since they might be near weapons caches. The Israeli military also gave similar warnings to Southern Lebanese villagers prior to the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 2006 and I believe this is a practice that continues to this day.
Palestinian Muslims have done very little with Gaza since the region was turned over to them and the territory has literally been turned into a terrorist base. Not only have Palestinian militants been armed with sophisticated weapons which Hamas uses constantly against Israel (such as firing its rockets and mortars against Israeli cities) but they also have been training terrorists and building tunnels used to kidnap Israeli soldiers and smuggle materials terrorists use in attacks on Israeli cities.
Hamas purposely positions weapons caches near civilian targets hoping such defacto human shields will prevent their positions from being destroyed by Israeli precision fire weapons. However, despite their best efforts at warning the populace and when Palestinian civilians are killed or wounded as a result of Israeli retaliation, the world turns against Israel. Israelis can and should continue to survive and thrive in peace. But, if provoked they should defend themselves using the country’s military might.