Gaza War 2021: Once again, Israel and the Palestinian Hamas faction that dominates Gaza are engaged in an intense long-range combat that put civilians on both sides of the border at risk. As of the publication of this post, casualties include 188 dead and 1,225 injured in Gaza, with Israel reporting 10 dead and 585 injured. Most casualites on both sides are civilians.
Who is most culpable in this conflict? As background, the State of Israel has been in conflict with most of the nation’s Arab neighbors since 1948 (Egypt and Jordan signed peace treaties with Israel some time ago), but the crux of the conflict centers around the issues between Israel and the Palestinian people. Both sides basically claim the same land is theirs, to the exclusion of the other side’s claim. This aspect of the conflict actually predates the birth of the Israeli state. One Palestinian faction (there are several, and they don’t all get along), controls a piece of land called the Gaza Strip, and this group, Hamas, is an arch-foe of the Israelis. Multiple hot wars have broken out between Israel and Gaza over the the past 15 years. This latest round of fighting in May of 2021 is only the latest.
Here is our analysis of some of the issues related to the current round of fighting in Gaza and Israel:
A geographic reminder: Israel does not surround Gaza. Gaza’s western border is with Egypt, a fellow Arab and Muslim-majority nation. There are many rich (via oil) Arab and Muslim nations that, if they truly wanted to, could help lift the Gazans out of poverty. Also, Hamas dominates the Gaza Strip, and continually denies Israel’s right to exist as a nation (plus putting out horrible anti-Semitic propaganda that would make Hitler smile). Israel sees the Hamas-controlled Gaza as enemy territory, and has to treat it as such. If Hamas were to magically go away and the somewhat less aggressive Fatah Party (which controls the West Bank), took over, the level of violence, both military and economic, would drop. Reminder, back in 2007, Hamas drove Fatah out of Gaza, and then began attacks on Israel from civilian areas of the high-density population centers of Gaza.
Gaza Strip and Israel Map
Hamas began this current round of tit-for-tat fighting with Israel when they launched their rockets about a week ago in response to violence and rioting between Israeli Jews and Israeli Arabs who came out in support of West Bank Palestinian Arabs. That rioting literally has nothing to do with Gaza. It was based on a local land dispute in the Jerusalem area. Hamas chose to put the civilians they control (remember, they kicked Fatah out of Gaza in a short civil war and took control of Gaza in 2007), in danger when Israel responded militarily. Which they always do.
Hamas is a terrorist oganization. Let us be clear on that. There are some Western critics of Israel (and supporters of the Palestinian cause), who point out that many of the Hamas rockets that are fired by the hundreds into Israel are “home made," relatively low-tech weapons, implying that this somehow makes Hamas the David ot Israel’s Goliath. This actually increases the Hamas rockets usability as weapons of terror, rather than as legitimate military-grade weapons. The difference? A higher-tech missile or rocket (such as used by modern militaries such as Israel, Iran, the U.S., etc.) can be targeted with almost pin-point precision (when the news media shows Israel knocking down a building in Gaza, it is a fair bet that that building was targeted for a reason), which can actually reduce civilian casualties. The Hamas rockets however, the so-called locally produced Qassem rockets, lack a guidance system. They are fired off in the general direction of Tel Aviv, or Jerusalem, or some other Israeli civilian target, and no one in Gaza can say for sure if the rockets will hit a military target (which, in war, is a legitimate target), or if it will land on an Israeli kindergarten. This makes many of Hamas’ long-range weapons into nothing more than terror weapons designed to cow the Israeli population.
Take a look at our Iron Dome in action.
Hamas fired a barrage of rockets into central & southern Israel tonight. With our Iron Dome Aerial Defense System operators in action, these systems help keep Israel's skies safe. pic.twitter.com/eC79myd2JT
Much is also made in the media of the relatively low numbers of dead Israelis in these attacks compared to higher Palestinian casualties in Gaza as somehow proof that Israel is a bully and that Hamas is a victim. Israel has been in a state of war with violent neighbors since 1948. They have lived under the threat of actual rocket and missile attacks since at least 1991 (when Saddam fired missiles at Israeli civilian targets in the Gulf War). Hezbollah (supplied with very modern missiles by Iran), proved that they could hit most Israeli population centers in their 2006 war. Israel has developed bomb shelters across the nation as a result. In America, we have active-shooter drills in schools, even though most schools will never see an active-shooter. Israeli students live through bomb shelter drills, and they often (like now) have to actually flee to those bomb shelters in terror. This is the reality of life in Israel, and has been like that for decades. Fewer Israelis die in these rocket wars, because their civil defense systems are nation-wide and war-tested.
What about civilian casualties in Gaza though? It needs to be pointed out that both Amnesty International, and Human Rights Watch (neither are pro-Israeli organizations) have noted that Hamas and Islamic Jihad (the two main military groups in Gaza), store their weapons, rockets, command structures, etc. in civilian areas, in violation of numerous international laws. When Israel responds to rocket attacks from Gaza, and they hit these military targets that are nestled among civilian homes and buildings, civilian casualties occur. To be clear: Hamas purposely puts Palestinian men, women, and children in harm’s way, knowing that an Israeli military attack will likely cause civilian casualties. This point is rarely reported in mainstream Western media.
How does this violence end? Most likely, as in previous wars between Hamas and Israel (2006, 2008-2009, 2012, 2014), a truce will take place that will eventually be broken when Hamas does something violent against Israel again. Ideally, if both sides stopped shooting and had serious de-escalation negotiations, that would be a better solution. But, as long as Hamas declares (it is in their mission statement) that Israel has no right to exist, real negotiations are unlikely. This is on Hamas, and, by extension, their patron Iran (who also actively works against Israel and the Jewish people).