On October 16th, Students for Justice in Palestine at the University of Houston brought in a speaker, Josh Ruebner, who spoke about why he thinks Israel and the United States have failed to establish peace and a Palestinian state. Although Ruebner spoke of his hopes of two states for two peoples, his rhetoric was filled with false accusations and fictitious claims about Israel and last summer’s escalation in Gaza. Ruebner spoke about peace, but his blaming of Israel for the violence that occurred ignores what truly occurred. His unwillingness to condemn the terrorist group, Hamas, makes his rhetoric counterproductive to peace. Ruebner failed to explain that the reason violence erupted this summer, and the reason peace between Israel and the Palestinians looks so bleak, is because of Hamas.
Hamas is the political faction that rose to power in Gaza in 2006. It is a fanatical Islamist organization that is designated by the European Union and USA, and among other countries such as Canada and Australia, as a terrorist organization. Hamas’s charter openly calls for the destruction of the State of Israel and the annihilation of the Jewish people. One article explicitly states that “There is no solution for the Palestinian question except through Jihad. Initiatives, proposals, and international conferences are all a waste of time and vain endeavors.”
Let that one sink in.
Over the summer, Hamas operatives kidnapped and murdered three Israeli teens. After Israeli troops went into the West Bank to find the boys, Hamas launched massive amounts of rocket fire onto Israeli cities. For 50 days, Hamas launched more than sixty rockets a day onto Israel’s cities, leaving many Israelis as few as fifteen seconds to run for shelter. Israel launched Operation Protective Edge in response. Israel retaliated at first with airstrikes, but then entered Gaza in order to destroy the terror tunnels being dug under the Gaza-Israel border. The purpose of these tunnels was not to sneak in supplies and aid, but to kidnap Israeli civilians and soldiers and hold them for ransom. Israeli Intelligence even discovered a Hamas plot to invade Israel through the terror tunnels dressed as Israeli soldiers. They planned on doing this on one of the holiest Jewish days, Rosh Hashanah.
Ruebner’s biggest mistake was not acknowledging Hamas’s use of Palestinians civilians as human shields. Hamas inhumanely utilized this strategy when they repeatedly fired rockets toward Israel from highly-populated civilian areas. Hamas stored and fired rockets near schools, mosques, hospitals, and civilian homes. Rockets were found twice in United Nations Relief and Work Agency (UNRWA) schools. Hamas deliberately launched attacks onto Israel from civilian centers because they knew that Israel would be condemned if they reacted. This put Israel in a difficult position, because they were fighting an enemy who did not care if their civilians were in harm’s way. By using human shields, Hamas displayed to the world its utter disregard for human life. Hamas Spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said on Gaza’s Al-Aqsa TV that that the Palestinians “defend their rights and their homes with their bare chests and their blood.” Many are misled to believe that Hamas fights for the rights of Palestinians. But in reality, they are a fanatical organization that has turned Gaza into a base of terrorism.
Ruebner’s claims that this was not a war against Hamas are absolutely ludicrous. Israel took unprecedented steps to minimize civilian casualties; however, Hamas did everything to maximize Israeli and Palestinian casualties. Israel set up field hospitals in Gaza during the conflict. While Israeli civilians were bombarded with rockets, their medical staff was treating the wounded on the other side. The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) dropped leaflets, made TV broadcasts, made phone calls, and sent text messages (all in Arabic) to enable Palestinian citizens to evacuate targeted areas. No other country and no other army in history have gone to greater lengths to avoid casualties among the civilian population of their enemy. Unfortunately, Hamas officials urged their citizens to ignore these warnings, and sometimes encouraged citizens to purposely congregate at the tops of these buildings. No sane government would purposely put their citizens in danger like Hamas has done.
If Hamas truly cared about the Palestinians and their desire for statehood, they would seek out peaceful relations with their neighbor, Israel. When Israel’s security is threatened, when hundreds of rockets are fired daily onto Israeli cities, a resolution will never be attained. Hamas started this violence, and they passed up many opportunities to cease their fire. Egypt brokered a cease-fire that has been in effect since late August. Ruebner’s ideal two-state solution cannot happen when the people who run the other state seek Israel’s destruction. It will not happen as long as a terrorist group like Hamas is in power.