Over the past several weeks, Hamas has shot more than 2,000 rockets at Israel—not just in her southern cities but reaching over 80 percent of Israel. This goes against all conventions of war. Targeting noncombatants is terror. It is not allowed under the Geneva conventions.
Israel has had no choice but to defend herself. In doing so, more than 600 Palestinians have died. We are told that possibly as many as 80 percent were noncombatants. First of all, we cannot trust the numbers Hamas is giving us, as they are a terrorist organization and more known for propaganda than honesty. Nevertheless, we have to ask ourselves, who is to blame for the high number of civilian deaths?
Mahmoud Abbas has accused Israel of genocide. The president of Turkey said Israel's barbarism has surpassed even Hitler. The U.N. chief has condemned Israel in recent days calling our defensive actions "atrocious." And even John Kerry mocked Israel's response when he didn't realize his microphone was on before an interview.
However, any honest human being should be able to lay the blame squarely at the feet of the ones who started this conflict: Hamas.
1. Hamas uses women and children as human shields. There is ample evidence that Hamas surrounds its weapon launchers with children. This is beyond inhumane. Their goal is two-fold: to keep Israel from taking out the launchers, but even better yet (in their twisted jihadi minds), "If Israel responds we can parade through the streets with dead children."
I heard an Abbas adviser on CNN sharing that no mother would ever allow her children to be used like this. That was the whole of her argument—emotions over photographic evidence. But to answer her question, these are the same mothers who go on TV praising Allah that their sons have become suicide bombers. The same mothers who hand out candy on the streets when Israelis are murdered—and rejoiced at the news that Hamas had killed three teenage boys in cold blood.
"Here's the difference between us. We're using missile defense to protect our civilians, and they're using their civilians to protect their missiles," said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
2. Hamas hides weapons in residential neighborhoods. This week 20 rockets were found in a United Nations-funded school. When Israel discovers this, she has an important decision to make. Do you destroy the weapons depot, in this case, a school, and risk collateral damage, or do you pass it by, knowing those weapons will be used against Israeli citizens and troops?
Oh ... and an aside ... The UN, upon discovering the rockets, handed them over to the Gaza police under Hamas control. They gave them back to be used against Israeli civilians. Mr. Ban, that is atrocious.
IDF tank shells that hit the Al Aqsa Hospital and sadly caused civilian casualties happened only because Hamas was storing a cache of anti-tank missiles right next to the hospital. These tanks have already killed nearly a dozen Israeli soldiers. Hamas purposely hides them next to a hospital, baiting Israel into bombing them.
"While the IDF takes every possible measure to minimize civilian causalities, Hamas and its deliberate tactic of embedding terrorist activities with the urban environment are ultimately responsible." (IDF spokesman)
But let's be clear—there is a huge difference between collateral damage as Israel seeks to destroy Hamas' ability to attack Israel, and what Hamas does: targeting Israeli civilians. It is not Israel's fault that Hamas is simply not very good at it. But it is not for a lack of trying—more than 2,000 rockets in two weeks and only one death.
3. The 'innocent' Palestinians elected Hamas as their representatives. In 2006, after Israel left Gaza and hoped for peace, the people of Gaza voted Hamas into power. They chose Hamas. Now I understand that this was largely due to the fact that the Palestinian Authority was (and is) utterly corrupt, and politicians were lining their own pockets with U.S., U.N. and European aid money. But still, the alternative was a terrorist organization that would bring Islamic rule upon Gaza and sacrifice their sons and daughters with the same amount of thought that it takes to buy a candy bar.
4. The 'innocent' Palestinians do not rise up against Hamas and stop them from sending rockets into Israeli population centers. This form of terror began nearly a decade ago, and Hamas still rules Gaza. The people have not risen up against them. This is the third time in five years they have invited a deadly Israeli response upon them because of endless rocket fire. And maybe yesterday, after more than 600 Gazans died, the people would have had enough. So Hamas announces they have kidnapped an Israeli soldier. Like a dog that loses focus the second you wave a tennis ball in front of him, the people of Gaza immediately took to the streets to celebrate the kidnapping. (The kidnapping has yet to be substantiated.)
5. Hamas hides tunnel entrances in the homes of civilians and mosques. The Times of Israel reported recently, "Tunnel entrances have been found in houses and mosques, according to the army."
A lot has been made of the so called "massacre" in the city of Shejaiya. There are claims of dozens of innocent women and children being killed. What you are not being told is there were more than 100 terror targets including two mosques that served as Hamas compounds and weapons storage sites. (timesofisrael.org)
Furthermore, the IDF warned noncombatants to get out of that area before they entered. Did Britain and the U.S. warn Berlin before dropping 70,000 tons of explosives on the city? Or course, the residents of Berlin didn't wait for telephone calls and leaflets warning of the coming doom—1.7 million of them fled the city. However in Gaza, Hamas is encouraging its citizens to stay and die.
And no one condemned the U.S. and Great Britain for the bombing of Berlin—why? Because it was not an act of aggression, but self-defense. In the same way, Israel is only in Gaza to destroy terror tunnels and take out Hamas' ability to fire rockets.
6. Hamas is thrilled at the number of civilian casualties. This is exactly what they wanted. Prime Minister Netanyahu was correct when he said on Monday, "This is the cruelest, most grotesque war that I have ever seen. Not only does Hamas target [Israeli] civilians, and hide behind their civilians, it actually wants to pile up as many civilian deaths as possible" for the television cameras, in order to garner sympathy.
Yes, while Israel seeks to prevent Palestinian deaths, Hamas wants them to die—the more the merrier. This is their strategy. While Hamas commanders hide in underground bunkers, they cheer as more and more of their own people die for the cause. That's simply more fuel for the propaganda machine.
So, ask yourself, WHO IS REALLY TO BLAME?
Ron Cantor is the director of Messiah's Mandate International in Israel, a Messianic ministry dedicated to taking the message of Jesus from Israel to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8). Cantor also travels internationally teaching on the Jewish roots of the New Testament. He serves on the pastoral team of Tiferet Yeshua, a Hebrew-speaking congregation in Tel Aviv. His newest book is Identity Theft. Follow him at @RonSCantor on Twitter.
For the original article, visit messiahsmandate.org.