Letters to Editor, Opinion

LETTER: Hamas also deserves blame

Recently, medical students began circulating a petition to express, as the letter states, their ‘outrage at the brutal Israeli attacks and subsequent humanitarian disaster that is occurring in Gaza.’ This petition maintains that Israel is crushing the nearby Palestinians and causing a human rights crisis. It further implies that civilians are being targeted purposefully (claiming that the number of civilians killed, ironically low compared to any modern war, speaks for itself). Let me be clear: this petition is misguided and dangerous.’ ‘ ‘

My heart certainly goes out to those suffering in Gaza – their plight is great. Yet it is critical to blame those truly responsible. Hamas, a group whose charter and ethos commits them to the total destruction of Israel, took complete control over Gaza in 2007. Since then, thousands of mortars and rockets have been fired at Israeli civilians. Casualties would have been far higher had the Israeli government not built many new bomb shelters to protect its citizens. At the same time, Hamas was busy smuggling in all sorts of weapons – rockets, guns, anti-tank missiles, provided mostly by Iran – rather than building protections for their citizens. They proceeded to hide rockets and explosives in mosques, homes, schools and universities and built a command center under the main hospital. Fast forward to Dec. 19th: Hamas refused to renew the ceasefire, and dramatically increased rocket fire. As any country would be expected to do, Israel reacted to protect its citizens and launched a war against the Hamas militants and military infrastructure.

Since then, many Hamas members have been killed. Unfortunately, an undetermined but significant number of Palestinian civilians have been killed as well. The Israel Defense Forces have made great efforts to avoid civilian casualties. Yet Hamas has ordered its police and soldiers to remove their uniforms in an attempt to blend in with civilians, launched missiles from homes and next to schools and purposefully placed civilians on rooftops to deter bombing. Why? For them, it is a win-win situation-either Israel declines to attack (often) or kills civilians in the process of fighting (much less often). In the cynical opinion of the Hamas leaders, both are good.

Despite this, nearly all the blame is targeted toward Israel, especially abroad, and by a media and U.N. that seems blind to anything other than criticizing Israel. I understand why many of the Arab countries protest as well – for their leaders, it redirects pressure away from their own failings. Yet Europe (and many in this country as well) have no excuse. How can one deny Israel’s right to defend herself and ignore Hamas’ role in starting the conflict? What about Iran for providing the weaponry? After all, placing all the blame on Israel (as the petition mentioned before does) merely encourages Hamas to try again. I would like to think it is merely misinformed and misguided altruism and not something more malicious. Regardless, we must protest against this pernicious double standard wherever we see it.

Daniel Stein

MED ’12

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