Last week, tensions between the Gaza strip and Israel peaked and turned into a series of deadly rocket fire and drone bombings, but the region at the edge of the Mediterranean Sea is no stranger to bloodshed.
First, I will give you all a little history lesson. According to the “CIA World Factbook,” a conservative Islamic group known as Hamas violently seized control of all military and governmental institutions in the Gaza Strip in June 2007. Gaza is a densely populated strip of land located between southern Israel and Egypt’s Sinai Desert with about 1.6 million Palestinian citizens.
Hamas despise Israel’s very existence. Since the creation of Israel in 1948, Gaza citizens lost their homes in the region and their descendants live poverty-stricken, crowded, miserable lives. Even though Israel withdrew its soldiers from Gaza in 2005, it still blockaded its borders to control the airspace for fear of weapons imports.
Between November 2007 and June 2008, Israeli-Palestinian violence drastically increased. Egypt drafted a truce between the regions in June 2008, but it only lasted five months. By the end of the year, an estimated 1,100 to 1,400 Palestinians were killed and tens of thousands of people were homeless.
So when I heard President Barack Obama say: “There’s no country on Earth that would tolerate missiles raining down on its citizens from outside its borders. So we are fully supportive of Israel’s right to defend itself from missiles landing on people’s homes and workplaces and potentially killing civilians,” I realized that according to him, “defending” yourself as a nation justifies senseless murder.
I find it interesting how one can say that no country would “tolerate missiles raining down on its citizens from outside its borders” to justify retaliation when the U.S. has been shooting missiles and bombing Middle Eastern nations for years. By this same logic, Hamas is justified in its shooting of rockets into Israel and the citizens of Pakistan, Yemen, Afghanistan and other Middle Eastern nations are justified in their retaliation against U.S. drone strikes.
According to the Associated Press at the time of the ceasefire the death toll was 161 Palestinians, including 71 civilians. Hundreds were injured. Six Israelis, two soldiers and four civilians, were killed and dozens of others were wounded by rockets fired into residential neighborhoods.
The Israelis took a page out of the Obama military strategy – they used state of the art weaponry and have virtually no discretion with how they use it. Drone bombings have decimated entire families of Palestinians, robbing men, women and children of their lives.
This one-sided Israeli brutality of Palestinians and religious intolerance of Hamas has to stop. You cannot place lables such as “self-defense” on lopsided death tolls to clear your conscience. Most Palestinians are trapped in Gaza with nowhere to go. Are their lives any less important than the lives of Israeli citizens? Do you think that everyone killed during these senseless scuffles completely agreed with the radical militias occupying their homelands?
The U.S. government is starting to make me believe that this is actually the case. It has been giving Israel a slap on the wrist for years and turning its back to the crimes committed in Gaza.
Now that a ceasefire has been announced, I can only hope that this one lasts. I hope that Israel makes some changes in its military actions and loosens the blockade on the Gaza Strip so that its citizens can receive proper tools for survival.
I hope that the U.S. stops patting Israel on the back for its outrageous “self-defense” policy.