As Hamas rockets continue to rain down on Israeli civilians, Israel has once again begun to find itself being portrayed internationally as the villain for defending itself. Lest there be any doubt, Hamas is a band of terrorists. Israel on the other hand is a sovereign nation, and, like every nation, has a natural right of self-defense.
Unlike virtually every other nation, however, Israel pursues this natural right in arguably the most morally upright and forthright manner in the annals of history. Regrettably, the United States has not done nearly enough to stand with Israel and give the Israeli government a diplomatically protective “green light” to once and for all neutralize the Hamas terrorist threat.
Iranian-backed Hamas fires rockets into Israel from Gaza. Israel defends itself thanks to the Iron Dome, which eliminates many rockets. But Hamas reloads and keeps shooting rockets into Israel. Israel now wants to go after the Hamas bandits. Israel’s rules of engagement are designed to minimize civilian and non-combatant casualties, while still allowing for robust self-defense.
This protocol is at times a tactical handicap for Israel.
Israel goes to great lengths to do everything it can to protect civilian lives. When Israel targets a terrorists hiding in “civilian” buildings in Gaza, Israel often warns the local populace of an impending defensive strike, sometimes by dropping leaflets or making phone calls to individual Gazans in the zone. At times, before an actual attack, Israel uses the “knock on the roof” tactic (firing small, precise, non-explosive ordinance at a roof) to urge folks to vacate the premises.
Hamas, on the other hand, does not value any human life. By all accounts, Hamas urges, and sometimes forces Gazans back into targeted buildings.
Some reports say Hamas’ command and control operations are located underneath hospitals and schools. They are willing to cower behind women, children, the elderly and the sick. This is a continuation of longstanding Palestinian policy: provoke Israeli defensive counterattacks that will cause civilian casualties.
The Hamas propaganda slogan declares: “We love death more than the Jews love life.” This routinely forces Israel into the bizarre scenario of caring more about Palestinian Arab lives than their purported champions in the Palestinian Authority. To the international community, however, it appears none of this really matters.
On Saturday, the UN Security Council issued a unanimous statement calling for a cease-fire and “for respect for international humanitarian law, including the protection of civilians.” The UN insists that Israelis and Palestinians return to the negotiating table “with the aim of achieving a comprehensive peace agreement based on the twostate solution.” This was followed by comments from the UN Human Rights Commissioner questioning the legality of Israel’s actions in the Gaza Strip. He even suggested that Israel deliberately killed civilians in Gaza.
Unfortunately, more often than not, this has become the response from the UN. History reveals that Hamas has used cease-fires as a “time out” to rearm itself with more Iranian rockets. Then at some “appropriate time,” it shoots them into Israel again. The US is following suit and backing off Israel’s right to defend herself. It, too, wants negotiations.
The self-righteous international community misses the heart of the matter.
To place a recognized terrorist organization like Hamas on the same level as the democratic, sovereign State of Israel is not only wrong, it’s nutty. The most important difference between Hamas (and by extension the PLO, since they have yet to revoke their Palestinian Authority unity government with Hamas), and Israel is that Hamas’s goal is the destruction of the Jewish state.
The international outsiders cry peace, peace, but there can be no peace as long as Hamas refuses to recognize Israel’s right to exist. Israel exists because the Jews persist in surviving.
The United States’ legal, moral and sane response should be to support the Jewish state by encouraging Israel to, once and for all, end the terrorist threat to Israelis posed by Hamas. Hamas must be defeated. This will also protect Palestinian Arab civilian lives. The United States must stand with Israel in this effort. We must work to thwart diplomatic narratives that legitimize Hamas. We Americans must end our own political and financial support for the current Palestinian leadership that supports Hamas. We must make clear to the world that the Jewish State of Israel will, in fact, endure – whether Hamas and Iran like it or not.
And that’s just the way it is.
The author is a US congressman (R-Texas), chairman of the House Subcommittee on Terrorism and a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee.