Chair of the New England Board of the Anti-Defamation League
This article originally appeared in Worcester Telegram & Gazette on August 1, 2014
The Middle East is riddled with conflicts that are truly complicated — in Syria, Iraq, Libya, Lebanon, Egypt and between Israel and the Palestinians, for example.
Hamas' war against Israel, however, is not complicated at all.
Hamas, a jihadist enterprise, is doctrinally committed to killing Jews and to the elimination of Israel altogether. Its Charter is chilling in its lack of ambiguity on this score. And its commitment to the complete destruction of Israel — regardless of its borders — is not merely a matter of doctrine.
Since 2006 alone, it has fired some 14,000 rockets at Israeli civilians with the intention of killing, injuring or, at a minimum, terrifying them. It has fired more than 2,500 rockets at Israeli civilians in the last three weeks alone.
It was the Palestinian representative to the United Nations Human Rights Council, Ibrahim Kraisi, who best summed up Hamas' rocket attacks against Israeli civilians.
"The missiles that are now being launched against Israel, " he said, "each and every missile constitutes a crime against humanity, whether it hits or misses, because it is directed at civilian targets."
This is now the fourth time in eight years that Israeli civilians have been subjected to massive volleys of rocket attacks by a terrorist enterprise that openly announces its intention to destroy them. It is the fourth time that hundreds of thousands of Israeli civilians have had to listen closely for the sound of the air raid siren that warns them that they have only seconds to get themselves and their families into bomb shelters.
In July 2006, it was Iran's proxy on Israel's northern border, Hezbollah, which fired 4,000 rockets at northern Israel, forcing over a million Israelis into shelters.
Between 2007 and the end of 2008, Hamas launched almost 5,000 rockets against Israeli communities. In November 2012, the Israelis were once again forced to try to stop several thousand missiles fired against them.
It is now just 20 months later, and Israel finds itself under attack yet again, this time by a Hamas armed with missiles that cover 80 percent of Israel's civilian population, and which has constructed an elaborate system of underground tunnels packed to the brim with weapons and explosives.
Hamas' purpose is to use the tunnels to infiltrate into Israel and either kill Israelis or kidnap them. Not content with committing human rights violations against Israeli civilians, Hamas specializes in the commitment of human rights violations against Palestinian ones.
It intentionally stores its rockets in, and fires them from, homes, mosques, hospitals and schools. Here is the reason: When Israel tries to stop the rocket fire, as it inevitably will have to, civilians will be killed. It will not matter how careful Israel tries to be, or how much warning it tries to provide, or how much restraint it exercises — Palestinian civilians will certainly be killed by Israel's attempts to protect its own civilians.
And that suits Hamas just fine. Because it can then showcase footage of the civilians whose deaths it has brought about, the media will dutifully show that footage, and it will be Israel that is blamed by people who do not stop to think about how it is that those deaths have come about — through the deliberate decision by Hamas to sacrifice innocent Palestinians for the purpose of trying to kill innocent Israelis.
Hamas has the power to stop the carnage, but it refuses to do so. Over the last several days it has rejected multiple cease-fires, and violated several others.
Hamas appears bent on wreaking as much destruction on Israel as possible, and on causing deaths of Gazans that can then be used for public relations purposes. For its part, Israel appears to have little choice but to eliminate the rocket stores and the terror tunnels that jeopardize its civilians.
What is needed more than ever is moral clarity focused on one uncomplicated fact: Hamas is responsible for the deaths of Palestinians and Israelis alike and Hamas needs to stop the killing.
"Hamas appears bent on wreaking as much destruction on Israel as possible, and on causing deaths of Gazans that can then be used for public relations purposes. For its part, Israel appears to have little choice but to eliminate the rocket stores and the terror tunnels that jeopardize its civilians."