Once again, there has been another upsurge in the violence from Gaza: more rockets falling in Israel, another military operation by the IDF, more photos from both sides of parents and children running from the shelling, more tragedy on both sides. It seems to be agonizingly symmetrical, with pain and suffering on both sides of the border.
But the symmetry is only an illusion. If we can examine the true picture, we will find that it is far from symmetrical.
We will find that while Israel is a democratic country which follows the rule of law, Hamas is a terrorist organization that has ruthlessly taken control of a small territory — namely, the Gaza Strip.
We will find that while Israel strikes carefully picked military targets with surgical precision in order to avoid hitting non-involved citizens and children, Hamas deliberately fires at civilian targets.
We will find that while Israeli civilians are urged to run to shelters and take cover when the rockets fall, Hamas fires from densely populated areas and from public buildings in order to be shielded from Israeli fire by the civilians within them. When Israel sends fliers and phone messages to Palestinians in danger of being in the line of fire, Hamas deliberately seeks to harm civilians.
Yes, we will find a higher death toll on the Palestinian side, but this only demonstrates that while Israel is more successful in protecting its citizens, Hamas terrorists are more successful in using their civilians as human shields.
We will find that while Israel is profoundly sorry for every civilian injured or killed, Hamas celebrates civilian deaths on both sides — on the Israeli side as a military victory and on the Palestinian side as a propaganda victory.
Finally, we will find that while Israel wants to live in peace and quiet with its neighbors and has no claims on Gaza; Hamas’ declared aim is to destroy the state of Israel.
Israel famously exited Gaza in 2005. At that time, it was the hope and belief that the Palestinians would take the infrastructure that had been left for them by Israeli entrepreneurs and Jewish philanthropists and turn Gaza into a Middle Eastern success story.
Palestinians were left with greenhouses, factories and warehouses, all of which could have been used to advance the Palestinian economy. Israel withdrew its military governance and the Palestinians could have used the opportunity to show the world that they have the will and capability to build a democratic, peace-loving state.
Instead, Hamas grabbed power, continuing to say that they will never end the “armed resistance” — their code word for ‘terrorism’ — until the ‘Zionist entity’ is entirely eradicated: “There is no solution for the Palestinian question except through Jihad.” (Article 13 of the Hamas Covenant).
Billions of dollars have been offered to them in order to develop infrastructures, but all their resources have instead been used to buy weapons and ammunition. Any infrastructures left have been used to house rocket launching pads and ammo stores. Most tragically, during this time, thousands of rockets have rained upon southern Israel.
You might be shocked to learn that during Operation Pillar of Defense, Israel continued to supply electricity, medical supplies, food and water to Gaza. Tragically, Hamas would rather have its citizens go without than accept help.
The ultimate asymmetry exists in this: if Israel were to lay down its arms tomorrow, tomorrow it would be annihilated. Conversely, if Hamas were to lay down its weapons tomorrow, there would be peace for Israel and the Palestinians next week.
As long as Hamas abuses its own population and continues its aggression against Israel, true balance — true symmetry — will remain out of reach.