Between Saturday, Nov. 10 and Wednesday, Nov. 14, various terrorist groups led by Hamas fired more than 100 rockets from the Gaza Strip into civilian areas in Israel without justifiable provocation. In response, Israel launched a successful targeted assassination of Hamas military leader Ahmed Jabari on Wednesday. Jabari was responsible for planning numerous terrorist attacks, as well as the kidnapping of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.
Since the assassination on Wednesday, Hamas terrorists have fired more than 800 rockets, striking numerous Israeli cities. Warning sirens blared across cities within range of Gaza, allowing Israeli civilians only seven seconds to seek cover before impact. For the first time in more than 20 years, warning sirens were sounded in Israel’s largest and most vibrant city, Tel Aviv.
The recent Hamas rocket fire is the latest escalation between the group, classified by the U.S. government as a terrorist organizaation, and Israel. These rocket attacks are unfortunately not out of the ordinary. Hamas has fired at Israel relatively frequently since Israel unilaterally disengaged from the Gaza Strip in 2005 with hope for peace. Since the beginning of this year, terrorists have fired more than 1,000 rockets from Gaza into surrounding Israeli areas.
As an independent sovereign nation, Israel is responsible for neutralizing such threats to ensure the safety of its citizens. Thus, Israel launched Operation Pillar of Defense on Wednesday, the first offensive since Operation Cast Lead in 2008. Of course, no military operation is ideal, nor is the collateral damage caused by such operations. Forceful intervention is the last possible resort, but unfortunately there are times when such attacks are necessary.
In regard to Israel’s attempts to protect civilians during Operation Cast Lead, Colonel Richard Kemp, the ex-Commander of British Forces in Afghanistan, made the following statement in front of the United Nations Human Rights council: “Based on my knowledge and experience, I can say this: During Operation Cast Lead, the Israeli Defense Forces did more to safeguard the rights of civilians in a combat zone than any other army in the history of warfare.” Israel continues to use all necessary means to protect Gazan civilians in Operation Pillar of Defense by dropping warning leaflets, making personal telephone calls to civilians in danger and even diverting missiles mid-air.
Israel is certainly not perfect. Still, every country has a right and a responsibility to protect its civilians and defend itself as a sovereign nation. Imagine that you are one of the one million Israelis who have been forced to sleep in a bomb shelter since Wednesday as a result of Hamas aggression. Imagine that you live in New York City and your neighbors in New Jersey regularly shoot rockets into your neighborhood. Israel is asking for nothing outrageous, only an end to violence and a call for peace and safety. Yet, how can there be an end to the violence when Hamas’s charter explicitly calls for the destruction of Israel?
As statuses, pictures and links to articles blast our news feeds on Facebook, we must question what we see, hear and know. Know your facts. Know that Operation Pillar of Defense is not an offensive act of aggression, but rather a defensive response to attacks that Hamas initiated. Know that this isn’t a recent flare-up — rather, it’s an escalation of the constant danger that thousands of Israelis and Palestinians live through on a daily basis. Know that Israel is not only fighting for the safety of its citizens, but also for the hope that one day Hamas will abandon its arms and its extremist agenda and join Israel in the process towards peace.
Shlomo Dalezman and Molly Rosen are LSA juniors. Jonathan Garshofsky is a Business junior.
— Correction Appended: A previous version of this article misstated that Jonathan Garshofsky is an LSA junior.