Whether pro-Israel or pro-Palestine, everyone can agree that the conflict is bad for all parties involved, and whether this current conflict is defined as a battle or a fight or war, the end result is the same: people die, on both sides. And if people are dying on both sides, then people are fighting on both sides, and since it takes two parties to fight, both parties are at fault.
Israel and Palestine share some blame for the current conflict. The question is why, and how much blame should be assigned to each side? In order to answer that question, we need to examine both sides of the argument and then draw a conclusion. For this article, I’ll be assuming the voice of a pro-Israeli citizen in the first section and a pro-Palestinian citizen in the next section. Then I’ll give my opinion after assessing both sides of the argument.
Why Israel Is Completely Right
The current conflict that has taken 42 Israeli lives and leaves our citizens running for bomb shelters every day was provoked by Hamas. Three innocent young Jewish teenagers in the West Bank were kidnapped and brutally murdered. This was a completely unprovoked action and even though it wasn’t an official Hamas operation, the murders were celebrated by the militant organization dedicated to the extinction of our people.
When faced with a terrorist group like Hamas, Israel has the right and duty to defend its people. After Israeli extremists stooped down to the level of Hamas and brutally murdered a young innocent Palestinian teenager, President Netanyahu was vigilant in bringing those responsible to justice. He made it clear that this kind of behavior cannot be tolerated. He arrested those responsible for the murder and they will face the consequences for their heinous actions.
Apparently, justice being served to a killer wasn’t good enough for Hamas. After the murder of the Palestinian teenager, they began to indiscriminately fire rockets at Israel. The Iron Dome Missile Defense System is able to neutralize many of these rockets, but not all of them. And Israelis run scared every night praying that a missile doesn’t strike them.
The IDF (Israel Defense Forces) has no choice but to engage in operations designed to kill militants of Hamas. Unfortunately, these militants hide out in the densely populated Gaza and our precision airstrikes result in the deaths of civilians. However, it has never been and will never be the goal of Israel to kill civilians. While Hamas relishes in the death of civilians because they can use the deaths to recruit more militant members, Israel mourns the loss of life.
Israel warns Palestinians to flee certain areas that are going to be targeted. Many of them choose to stay in harms way, (or they are forced to by Hamas) and in those cases there isn’t much the Israeli government can do. The IDF is diligently working to make the lives of Israeli citizens safer by not only eliminating Hamas militants but also the extensive network of tunnels they have built that lead into Israel. These tunnels are to be used solely for carrying out terrorist attacks on Israel. Before the occupation of Gaza ends, Israel must ensure that all the tunnels are destroyed.
In the process, the IDF will do its best to keep civilian casualties to a minimum, but Hamas must be eliminated. Think about it this way: if half of America’s citizens were under constant threat of being bombed, the government would do everything it can to eliminate the threat to the American people. Israel is no different. Israel is trying to eliminate a threat to its people.
Why Palestine is Completely Right
The current offensive against the Palestinian people by Zionists in the Israeli government brings with it the deaths of at least 1,050 Palestinians, 75% of whom civilians and many of whom are children. And worst of all, this conflict was started by Israel. Hamas may have been the ones to initially fire the rockets at Israel, but after the deaths of the Israeli teenagers, Israel launched a militant operation into the West Bank that killed 7 Palestinian civilians, destroyed dozens of homes, and unlawfully arrested hundreds of Palestinians. The rockets fired into Israel were in retaliation to this offensive launched by Israel. So in Israel’s quest to find the murderers of three Jewish boys, they ended up killing more than twice that number of people.
In order to really understand the frustration of the Palestinian people, it’s important to examine Israel’s occupation of Palestinian land. Since 1967, Israeli forces have occupied the West Bank and Gaza, territories that house millions of Palestinian people. Many human rights groups label these territories as “open-air prisons” patrolled by IDF forces abusive to Palestinian people, and completely blockaded from Israel.
To make matters worse, Israeli citizens are consistently moving into the West Bank and settling on Palestinian land, a clear violation of international law. An occupying force is not allowed to settle its citizens in the territory it occupies. At least 500,000 Israeli settlers have unlawfully moved into the West Bank, bulldozing Palestinian occupied homes in their way, and further exacerbating the presence of the IDF in the region.
So while Palestinians live under a quasi-colonial authority that regularly abuses Palestinian people, groups like Hamas gain traction because they offer a feeling of empowerment to citizens. Obviously, these groups are horrible and murder is never acceptable, but the murder of the three Jewish teenagers in the West Bank does not justify this military offensive by Israel that has led to the deaths of at least 750 Palestinian civilians.
The most disturbing part of this conflict is Israel’s claim that they are trying to limit civilian casualties. On July 21, Israel bombed UN-run school sheltering Palestinians in Gaza. At least 15 people were killed and many others injured. The Israeli government said they were “investigating” the issue, meaning they were trying to come up with a plausible excuse for their brutality. Israel also bombed a hospital in Gaza even though doctors inside pleaded with the Israeli army to withhold the strike. Israel recently bombed four young Palestinian boys playing on a beach in Gaza. What explanation has Israel given for this war crime? They say it was "a tragic outcome" of a strike designed to hit Hamas militants, who apparently hang out and play on the beach.
Just as Israel claims they have a right to defend against Hamas, Palestinians have a right to defend against the Israeli government, who are mostly killing civilians instead of actual Hamas militants.
Which Side is Right?
I am not Israeli nor Palestinian, not Jewish nor Muslim, and not fond of either party involved in the conflict: the Israeli government and Hamas. My sympathies lie with the civilians who have perished as collateral damage in the conflict and their families that will spend the rest of their lives mourning for the loss of loved ones.
As is the case with any complicated issue, both Israel and Palestine have valid arguments. Israel has every right to defend itself from rockets being fired into their country by Hamas. And Palestinians must realize that until they turn their backs on Hamas and actively work to help eliminate Hamas, Israel cannot live safely. Palestinian civilians though have a right to live, and Israel must realize that until they give the Palestinian people their own state not occupied by the IDF, there will never be peace.
In terms of this current conflict, it seems relatively clear to me that Israel has overplayed its hand. Few people in the world will read about United Nations shelters, hospitals, and schools being bombed and conclude that it was necessary for Israel’s security. Few people will look at the number of civilian casualties in Gaza and not cringe. If Israel should continue down this path of aggressive military action, they may lose support from the developed world, and perhaps even its greatest ally, the United States.
I am not, nor will I never, absolve Hamas in this conflict. They are, without a doubt, a despicable organization that poses a threat not only to the people of Israel, but also to the citizens of Palestine. They continuously put their own people in danger with their radical tactics, and I believe Israel has the right to fight them, but not at the cost of so many innocent lives. What Israel is doing in Gaza right now is wrong. The rest of the world sees it. The United Nations sees it. Human Rights organizations see it. President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry see it, even if they won’t admit it. Israel doesn’t see it though and they are only adding fuel to the fire of hatred with the number of civilian casualties they’re racking up in Gaza.
It’s well known that Al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups use civilian casualties from American drone strikes to recruit new members. For every civilian America kills in the Middle East, dozens of anti-American militants/terrorists are born. It’s no different in Gaza or the West Bank. Every civilian casualty will help turn normal Palestinian people into radicals that may truly pose a threat to Israel in the future. So while Israel’s government maintains now that they’re military offensive is protecting Israeli citizens, they could be laying the foundation for a war not just with Palestine, but also with the entire Middle East in the future.
And the difference between America’s enemies and Israel’s enemies: America’s enemies are separated by thousands of miles while Israel’s enemies are right next-door.