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When peace comes, we will perhaps in time
be able to forgive the Arabs for killing our sons,
but it will be harder for us to forgive them for
having forced us to kill their sons.

Golda Meir
Press conference in London (1969), as quoted in
A Land of Our Own : An Oral Autobiography (1973)
edited by Marie Syrkin, p. 242

Operation Protective Edge

A dramatic escalation in Hamas rocket fire led Israel to take action against terrorists in Gaza. In June 2014 the three Israeli teenagers were kidnapped and missing for nearly three weeks before their bodies were found. Israeli leaders accused Hamas of abducting and killing the three and vowed to punish the militant group. On 01 July 2014 Muhammad Hussein Abu Khdeir, a Palestinian teenager, was kidnapped and brutally murdered burned alive in an act of revenge for the deaths of the three Israeli teens.

Hamas later claimed responsibility for kidnapping and killing three Israeli teenagers in June - the incident that led to the current war in Gaza. Hamas leader Saleh Arouri told a conference in Turkey on 22 August 2014 that the group's military wing carried out the operation with the goal of starting an uprising. Speaking in Arabic at the International Union for Muslim Scholars in Istanbul, Arouri said Hamas aimed to "ignite an intifada" by Palestinians in the West Bank and Jerusalem. He said that effort "reached a peak in the heroic operation that the Al-Qassam Brigades carried out by capturing the three settlers in Hebron."

Gaza terrorists had fired more than 450 rockets at Israel since the beginning of 2014, with a significant increase starting on 15 June 2014. In addition to the rocket attacks, Palestinians carried out cross-border attacks from Gaza. A terrorist armed with a grenade infiltrated an Israeli village (22 June) and Israeli forces were attacked on 28 and 29 June. There was a sharp escalation in rocket fire on 30 June 2014, reaching a rate of about a dozen rockets each day thereafter. The intensification in attacks began in the morning, prior to the discovery of the three Israeli boys' bodies. That day, Hamas itself fired rockets.

On 08 July 2014, the IDF initiated Operation Protective Edge in order to restore security to Israels civilian population under constant rocket fire from the Gaza Strip. During the operation, the IDF has struck a number of houses throughout Gaza that were being used for military purposes. Hamas conducted its military activities from deep within residential areas in Gaza. By doing so, it exploited the IDFs desire and efforts to avoid harm to Palestinian civilians.

Israeli PM Netanyahu and DM Yaalon (17 July 2014) instructed the IDF to commence ground action to strike at the terrorist tunnels from the Gaza Strip into Israeli territory. The cabinet approved the ground operation after Israel agreed to the Egyptian cease-fire proposal and Hamas rejected it and continued to fire rockets on Israel's cities.

The Israeli government stated that "Operation Protective Edge will continue until its goals are reached - restoring sustained peace and quiet to the citizens of Israel, while striking hard at the terrorist infrastructure of Hamas and the other Palestinian terrorist groups in Gaza. Israel is doing everything it can to avoid civilian casualties. By contrast, Hamas is using Palestinian civilians as human shields and is responsible for any harm that comes to them."

Hamas called for the opening of the borders with Gaza, ( a closure that has been enforced by both Israel and Egypt to varying degrees since Hamas seized the territory in 2007) and talks between Hamas and Israel to take place in Cairo. Hamas also said it wanted the release of hundreds of its activists arrested in the West Bank while Israel searched for the three missing teens. The detainees include more than 50 Hamas men freed from Israeli jails in a 2011 prisoner exchange.

The HAMAS came to this war substantially weakened from its situation in 2008, at the time of Operation Cast Lead. After backing the Sunni Islamist opposition to the Assad regime in Syria, in January 2012 the political leadership of Hamas moved from Syria to Egypt and Qatar. Iran, which backed Assad, became disenchanted with Hamas as well. A further blow came in July 2013 when the Egyptian military ousted the Muslim Brotherhood government of President Mohamed Morsi [the HAMAS being the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood]. The rival Palestinian factions, Fatah led by Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas led by Ismail Haniyeh, agreed 23 April 2014 to form a national unity Government, but the HAMAS came away empty handed, with no seats in the government that was sworn in on 02 June 2014.

The United Nations said 23 August 2014 that more than 2,090 Palestinians had been killed since the violence erupted July 8, including close to 500 children. Israel has lost 64 soldiers and four civilians.

artillery rockets artillery rockets

The total population of Gaza is estimated to be 1.816 million people, while the total population of the United States is 313.9 million people. The population of the United States is about 175 times [172.85 to be more precise] that of Gaza. The 1,000 deaths in Gaza would be the equivalent of nearly 175,000 deaths in the United States.

There is some puzzling aspects about the deaths reported in Gaza by HAMMAS [which is under no obligation to provide impartial reporting]. From the outset, the breakdown in the number killed has been fairly consistently reported as about 75% civilian, 25% children, and not quite 10% women [presumably the women and children are civilian]. The Palestinian population is young: 48.2 percent of the population of the West Bank and Gaza is below the age of 18, according to the Palestinian Bureau of Statistics (PCBS). If civilians were being killed at random, it might be expected that the numbers killed would be nearly 40% children and nearly 40% women. Presumably women and children are preferentially sheltered away from likely combat areas.

The number of civilian male deaths is also puzzling. The HAMAS definition of "civilian" is unclear, but it reports that of the total deaths, 40% were civilian males above the age of 18 [ie, not "children"]. This compares to the 25% of deaths that were non-civilian males. The US State Department reports that the HAMMAS armed wing, the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, had a strength of "several thousand" while the Hamas-led paramilitary group known as the Executive Force had a strength of 9,000 persons. It is unclear which of these formations is being counted in which category in the HAMAS casualty reporting.

Ron Dermer, the Israeli ambassador to the United States, stated on 31 July 2014 that he believed the proportion of civilian Palestinians killed in Gaza was about half the total, and that many of the "civilians" killed were in fact HAMAS combatants. He told France 24, Why are there civilian casualties? Ill tell you why. Because despite the fact that we are being so cautious, you are facing an enemy in Hamas that uses their own civilians as human shields, that [turns] hospitals into military command centres, that turns mosques into weapons depots, that puts rockets into UN schools. [This is] an enemy that is telling their people to go into harms way when we are trying to get them out.

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Page last modified: 03-09-2014 19:48:43 ZULU