By Rachel Charney
Last week’s issue of the Silhouette featured an article entitled “Call for Peace” that provided a one-sided account of the current conflict in the Middle East under the guise of ‘news’. This conflict is extraordinarily complicated, but this is no excuse for completely ignoring that there are two sides to every story. News articles should strive to present current events in a balanced, objective way. For example, if a count of the Palestinians that were wounded is provided, a count of the Israelis that were wounded should be provided as well. The article “A Call for Peace” made no attempt to tell a balanced story – it was anti-Israel propaganda, and Silhouette readers should demand a higher standard of news.
Since the article did not offer any context or explanation of the recent conflict, it is where I will begin. Israel disengaged from the Gaza Strip in 2005. In 2007 Hamas – a terrorist organization – took control of the government. Hamas does not recognize Israel’s right to exist and has fired over 8,000 rockets into Israel since 2005. It’s hard to imagine that any state would tolerate constant rocket fire and not respond with equal or greater force than Israel has in order to keep its citizens safe.
Israel’s Operation Pillar of Defense began on Nov. 14 with the aim of putting an end to the rocket fire that has forced those living in southern Israel to retreat to bomb shelters time and again. “A Call for Peace” mentioned that Israel has Gaza under a siege – rather, Gaza is under a weapons embargo intended to weaken Hamas and prevent Hamas from acquiring more of the lethal rockets that they use to terrorize Israeli civilians. Israel continues to supply necessary goods to Gaza including electricity, food and water, as Israel does not aim to punish a civilian population, but rather prevent a dangerous organization from arming itself.
As mentioned in last week’s article, over 100 Palestinians have been killed in the conflict. This number includes both militant and civilian deaths. Civilian deaths occur because Hamas has violated international law by hiding their rocket launching equipment behind civilian infrastructure. As a result, to protect its own people, the Israeli army is forced to attack civilian areas to destroy Hamas’s launching equipment. Hamas’s use of civilian shields is a despicable war crime.
The Israel Defense Force does everything it can to prevent civilian casualties – it drops leaflets, makes phone calls and sends text messages alerting citizens to evacuate areas that it will be targeting. It is true that Israel has been responsible for civilian casualties, but these casualties are never deliberate, and it is Hamas that makes the Palestinian civilians into targets in the first place. Israel has gone above and beyond its humanitarian responsibility in offering medical aid to injured Gazans. This is in stark contrast to Hamas, a terrorist group that fires indiscriminately at Israeli civilians, and has made their aim of killing innocent Israeli civilians very clear; when Hamas kills Israeli civilians it is intentional and a cause for celebration. During November 2012 four Israeli civilians were killed and 219 Israeli civilians were wounded by rocket fire, and the bomb that blew up a Tel Aviv bus on Nov. 21 wounded 27 more Israeli civilians.
In a recent video, Hamas stated that they love death more than the Israelis love life. For Hamas, it is not about building a better home for the Palestinian people – it is about destroying the State of Israel. The Palestinians deserve a government that will work towards their safety and security, and Hamas is not interested in working towards either of these goals.
Prime Minister Harper and President Obama announced earlier this month that they stand with Israel and recognize Israel’s right to defend itself. The United States was instrumental in orchestrating the ceasefire that was called on Nov. 21, and although twelve more rockets were fired following the ceasefire, it looks like the worst has passed. Hopefully, the Israeli government will be able to find a partner for peace, and in our lifetime peace in the Middle East can be a reality.