As students head back from their Thanksgiving holiday, a war in Israel is escalating. Operation Pillar of Defense was launched Nov. 14 in response to the incessant rockets that were being fired from Hamas-controlled Gaza into southern Israel. Israel, acting as any responsible democratic county would, decided to launch a military operation to defend its citizens. For eight years, rockets indiscriminately fired have been terrorizing Israel’s communities. Israel has exercised utmost restraint in responding to these attacks, even at the cost of the security of its citizens. Israel has the right and responsibility to protect its civilians. Pressuring Israel to halt its operation and condemning Israel for defending its people is unacceptable.
In 2005, the government of Israel decided to pull its citizens out of Gaza in the hopes of cultivating peace with the Palestinians. Nine thousand Israelis uprooted their entire lives and peacefully left communities in Gaza in order to aid in the creation of a viable Palestinian state. Infrastructure that could have been used by the Palestinian people, including greenhouses that would have been used to export produce, was destroyed by Hamas, which seized control of Gaza.
Since 2005, Gaza has become a launch pad for rocket attacks into Israel. The purpose of these attacks is to inflict terror and provoke an Israeli response. After years of restraint, Israel decided to defend its citizens. Gaza is a densely populated city. Retaliatory attacks from Israel are directed at military targets, but those targets are deliberately placed in civilian areas in order to put Israel in a terrible predicament: eliminate the threat, and yet in doing so kill innocent Palestinians whom Hamas uses as human shields; or continue to allow its citizens to be terrorized by missiles.
Hamas is a terror organization; it shares numerous similarities with al-Qaeda and receives funding from Iran, a country that has repeatedly called for the destruction of Israel. Israel has every right to defend itself against Hamas, which does not value the life of Israelis and Palestinians.
As a Jew, as an Israeli and as an American, I want peace in Israel more than anything. Israel is America’s strongest ally in the Middle East, as they share values of democracy, freedom and human rights. People on both sides want to see an end to the violence, but the conflict will only be resolved when Palestinian leaders recognize that it is Hamas not the Israelis that is responsible for the suffering in Gaza. When the Palestinians agree to end violence and recognize Israel’s right to exist, Israel will be willing to work with the Palestinians to live side by side as neighbors.