Beginning in April of this past year, there were a series of organized riots near the Gaza-Israeli border, and these assaults are continuing today. Under the guise of a demonstrative protest, thousands of Palestinians have been consistently storming and assaulting the border fence with the intention to infiltrate Israel and harm Jews.
A report from Israel Hayom estimated over 79,000 acres of farmland have been burned by Gazan firebombs, and the attacks continue daily. Senior Hamas official, Mahmoud Al-Zahhar was quoted by Al Jazeera saying, “when we talk about ‘peaceful resistance’, we are deceiving the public. This is a peaceful resistance bolstered by a military force and by security agencies, and enjoying tremendous popular support.” While the media posts images of peaceful protesters, they neglect to show armed militants who storm the border. Firebombs and burning tires remain a routine occurrence in the Israeli towns in close proximity with the Gaza Strip. Reports also detail protestors burning tires to provide smoke screens for militants attempting to climb the fence. Hamas, the ruling party of the entire Gaza Strip and an internationally recognized terrorist organization, admitted to promising a payment of $3,000 to the families of protesters who were shot at the border, which exclusively fans the flames of conflict.
Hamas is directly responsible for the quality of life in Gaza. So then, why do Gazans choose to assault and attack Israel’s borders, when it is their own government that is responsible for their conditions? Under penalty of imprisonment, it is illegal to protest Hamas. The real purpose of these demonstrations was to create an orchestrated event that would deflect the world’s attention from Hamas and its corrupt mismanagement of the Gaza Strip and place the proverbial microscope on Israel instead. The conditions in Gaza are unquestionably intolerable and this tragedy is exacerbated by the exploitation of Gaza’s population by Hamas. Palestinians living in Gaza are being used as headlines, casualty statistics, and ultimately human shields. The media and its easily misled audience then choose to unjustly blame and demonize Israel rather than hold Hamas accountable. This enables Hamas’ human rights abuses to go virtually unchecked. It demonstrates an indifference and complacency for genuine Palestinian suffering and flies in the face of peace efforts.
As recently as this past Sunday, Hamas and other terror organizations in the Gaza Strip have launched a new and intensified onslaught of 300+ rockets, indiscriminately targeting soft targets and civilians. These impetuous attacks held such disregard for human life that the only casualty of Gazan rockets was Mahmoud Abu Asabeh, an innocent Palestinian man from Hebron who was legally working in Israel that day. Contrary to the funerals of other Palestinian “martyrs,” no Palestinian government official commemorated his life by attending and media coverage of the procession was discouraged and suppressed.
Hamas institutionally practices a policy of oppression and exploitation. How else can one explain how Hamas is one of the richest terror organizations in the world when their constituents live in such despicable poverty? 1.8 million lives are in the hands of Hamas and such a fact is irrelevant when demonizing Israel at the hands of their citizens is such a profitable business model. Hamas hoards international aid and goods so that artillery and terror tunnels are built instead of schools, hospitals or roads. Hamas prioritizes violence and terror against Israel above the stability of society in Gaza. Why does Hamas continue to bolster its missile arsenal when billions of dollars in unpaid electricity bills results in electricity being shut off in the entire Strip for most of the day? Hamas constantly fires rockets into Israel, endangers and kills civilians, and puts its citizens in harm’s way for nothing more than cheap publicity and misaligned sympathy.
To fail to acknowledge and deride the abhorrent behavior of Hamas is to demonstrate complacency for their actions. This allows them to behave any way they please, protected by the cone of silence the media has placed over them. Story after story appears in the news, including in our own Drew Acorn, blaming Israel for Palestinian suffering. Not one story has mentioned public execution in the Gaza Strip for protesting Hamas or for being a member of the LGBTQ community. Most significantly, not one story tells us how Hamas’ violence and corruption is the true cause of their people’s poverty. It is a stigmatized action to defend Israel even if it means speaking out against an illiberal and genocidal terrorist organization. As a relevant example, I am writing this piece at the realistic risk of being ostracized and condemned for defending the Jewish nation-state instead of Hamas.
In order to achieve peace, all parties must believe that they have something to lose by allowing the conflict to continue. Israel values the lives of its citizens and has strived for peace because it is necessary to save innocent lives not only in Israel, but everywhere. Hamas does not value the lives of its citizens and allows them to die without hesitation. In order to push for peace, Hamas must be held accountable for its actions. Too few of us have done enough to raise public outcry over the abuses of Hamas and their part in creating the unfortunate reality of the Gaza Strip.
Nathan is a sophomore International Relations and Psychology double major, CAMERA Fellow at Drew University and the president of D.I.S.A.