The article that was published on the front page two weeks ago [“Activist reveals hardships in Gaza”, January 14] made no attempt to offer a holistic view on a complex topic. The students quoted in the article offered evangelical praise of the presentation, yet no critical views were published, making it seem like there is consensus on the arguments being made by Mr. Fear; this is not the case. There are many students on both sides with varying opinions, and it is a perversion to present the situation as one-sided. Further, the article incorrectly associated BDS (Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions) with Israel when in fact BDS is a movement sternly anti-Israel. The article ended with a critical description of Operation Pillar of Defence, and it is here that I will begin my commentary.
Since 2007, Hamas has been the governing body of the Gaza Strip (a portion of the Palestinian Territories). Hamas defines itself as being in a continuous state of war with Israel. The group refuses to recognize Israel’s right to exist. Hamas’ charter states: “Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it, just as it obliterated others before it.” Israel, the United States, Canada, the European Union, and Japan classify Hamas as a terrorist organization.
The argument is frequently made that Israel is retaliating against an unarmed faction. In recent years, Hamas has been increasing the size and capabilities of its rocket arsenal, including the Fajr-5 rocket. The Fajr-5 rocket is an Iranian-made missile. It can reach over 60 kilometres, a range that allows it to threaten the lives of over 3.5 million Israelis. Since 2001, more than 12,800 rockets and mortars have landed in Israel. Since Israel withdrew from the Gaza Strip in 2005, 8,000 rockets have been fired into Israel.
According to the United Nations Charter, every state has the right to protect its citizens: “Nothing in the present Charter shall impair the inherent right of individual or collective self-defence if an armed attack occurs against a Member of the United Nations” (Article 51). On November 14, 2012, Israel launched Operation Pillar of Defence in response to unremitting rocket attacks from the Gaza Strip. The operation had two goals: to cripple terror organizations in the Gaza Strip and to defend Israelis living under fire (more than half a million Israelis have less than 60 seconds to find shelter after a rocket is launched from Gaza into Israel). During the eight days of the operation, the Israel Defence Forces targeted more than 1,500 terror sites across the Gaza Strip.
During Operation Pillar of Defence, Palestinian terrorist groups fired more than 1,506 rockets at Israel. Most of the rockets were launched from within civilian households in Gaza, effectively turning their residents into living human shields.
In order to minimize harm to civilians in Gaza, the IDF delivered thousands of phone calls and text messages to Gaza, warning them of IDF strikes in the area; the IDF dispersed leaflets warning the residents of the Gaza Strip to stay away from Hamas’ and other terror organizations’ operatives and facilities that pose a risk to their safety; the IDF called off airstrikes when pilots spotted civilians; and the IDF has targeted terrorists with pinpoint strikes, minimizing harm to bystanders.
Hamas has done nothing to minimize harm to civilians in Israel.
The number of civilians killed in Gaza during the course of Operation Pillar of Defence cannot be confirmed, but Gaza officials said 133 Palestinians had been killed in the conflict, of which 79 were fighters, 53 were civilians, and one was a policeman (source: The News International). In Israel, five civilians and one soldier were killed by rocket fire, while an additional 240 civilians were injured.
Operation Pillar of Defence (and the Arab-Israeli conflict more generally) is extremely complex, and it is unlikely that a favourable solution will be achieved in the near future. However, what can be achieved is a balanced dissemination of factual knowledge (emphasis on factual) in order to provide the necessary tools for an educated analysis of the situation and not one based on propaganda. It is here that the article fundamentally fails and treats something complex as a mere happening, with all blame being laid on Israel.
Fourth-year, political science