Hamas has forced Israel’s hand

The following letter to the editor appeared in the July 24, 2014 edition of the Columbus Dispatch.
The picture is from a photo essay posted at The New York Times.

The situation in Israel and Gaza is repugnant and grotesque, but it is not unexpected. Since its founding in 1948, Israel has faced attacks of bombs, troops, words and innuendo, all designed with one purpose: de-legitimization and destruction of Israel as a nation. Each time she has been attacked, Israel has responded in self-defense and self-preservation.

As recently as August 2005, in a gesture of good faith to negotiate peaceful co-existence with Palestinians, Israel withdrew all troops and settlers from Gaza, leaving the area ripe for economic development. The residents of Gaza responded with an election in January 2006 putting Hamas — whose sole agenda is the destruction of Israel and the elimination of the Jews — in power. For the past eight years, it has waged covert and overt war across the Israeli border, terrorizing residents and visitors to Israel and requiring constant vigilance.

Now Hamas, with the support of Iran, has launched more than 1,800 rockets against Israeli civilians in just the past two weeks. Only Israel’s defense forces and the “Iron Dome” of anti-missile technology have kept untold thousands of Jews, Muslims and Christians from dying in the streets of Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.

Knowing that Israel will, of necessity, defend herself, Hamas buries its missile launch sites in residential neighborhoods, schools and mosques, and uses women, children and the elderly as human shields atop armories. Hamas even tells Palestinian civilians to disregard Israeli warnings to evacuate in advance of imminent attacks. As Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been quoted in The New York Times, “We’re using missile defense to protect our civilians, and they’re using their civilians to protect their missiles.”

Hamas is willing to sacrifice Palestinian civilians in an effort to drive up the body count, put images of dismembered children on television screens worldwide, and thereby attempt to undermine Israel’s moral authority by painting Israelis as a nation of baby-killing monsters. In reality, as the only democracy in the Middle East, no country works harder than Israel to avoid civilian casualties.

I stand with the leaders of Israel, who are making difficult and heart-wrenching decisions of war, and yet remain unwavering in Israel’s right to self-defense.

Marilyn Brown
President, Franklin County Board of Commissioners

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