About the author
Noor Dahri is an independent researcher based in London, UK. He has studied Counter Terrorism from International Institute for Counter Terrorism ICT- Herzliya – Israel. He is a honorary member of the ZF-UK.
It was the month of Ramadan when Israel launched the Operation Protective Edge in defence. Through the world, many people question as to why Israel killed thousands of civilians in Gaza in the 2014 war. They ask why Israel launched Operation Protective Edge during the Muslim’s holy month of Ramadan and killed Palestinian civilians. These questions require a detailed answer, but in this limited space, I simply desire to highlight ground realities in the Ramadan War.
If we examine the history of Palestine, within the Arab-Israel wars/conflicts, we can acknowledge that Palestinians/Arabs initiated first against Israel, and Israel, then protected the country and nation. However, as a defence, Israel used precaution not to hurt civilian structure. Israel is still being blamed for war crimes, killing of innocent civilians, including women, children and elderly.
These allegations need positive rebuttal and antithesis analysis. The majority of Arab analysts waste their energy in a biased analysis against Israel.
I have read so many counterterrorism pundits who analysed all terrorism-related incidents around the world, but when they address the Israel-Palestinian conflict, they are unbalanced in their analytic reproach and start blaming Israel for the crime that it did not commit.
Every country holds a full right to secure its borders and defend its nation from any type of threat that may pose danger and risk to the country and people as Israel does. Why then, is Israel blamed always for defending the country in the same manner as the US, the UK and Pakistan does?!!
Operation Protective Edge was launched in July 2014 against the offensive strike by Hamas into Israeli cities, in which thousands of Israeli including women and children’s lives were psychologically damaged and functionally unstable. Israel bore no other alternative except to launch the operation against Hamas, the terrorist organisation, to deter the terrorist activities.
This is why, I believe that Israel was justified – legally, morally, diplomatically and politically in responding to the dangers posed by the rocket attacks against non-combatant civilians of the state of Israel. Hamas attacks on Israel, either by rocket or through terror tunnels, forced Israel to respond as any democratic country would do, just as Pakistan launched the operation Zerb-e-Azab against the terrorist organisations.
We must determine the whole scenario before rushing to the conclusion of Operation Protective Edge. The state of Israel never achieved any political or economic benefits nationally or internationally by launching a defensive operation against Hamas offensive terrorist acts. Israel merely holds right to defend her nation.
There were many reasons behind striking in Gaza against Hamas that forced Israel to launch the operation:
- In March 2014, Israeli navy seized a ship containing rockets smuggled from Iran to the Gaza strip.
- In April 14, Hamas and Fatah made a coalition deal against the State of Israel.
- In July 14, Hamas openly launched rocket attacks in the cities of Israel.
- On 7th July 2014, about 80 projectiles were fired pointing Israeli cities.
- The following day Israel launched Operation Protective Edge to save the nation from these horrific rocket attacks.
- During the entire month of July, Hamas fired more than 3000 rockets and more than 1500 mortars and the following month of August, about 950 rockets.
From January 2014 to August 2014, a total of about 5,000 rockets were fired at Israel. Israel did not retaliate for a few months and kept calm and drew international community’s attention through political efforts. However, no positive result stopped terror attacks. Israel’s retaliation was much less than other democratic countries who suffered in the same situation. The strikes destroyed the areas of conflict. Below, listed, is the monthly ratio of rocket attacks and Israel’s retaliation.
- On Jan 2014, Hamas fired 44 rockets and 4 mortars, but Israel did not retaliate
- On Feb 2014, Hamas fired 9 rockets with zero retaliation from Israel
- On March 2014, Hamas fired 65 rockets and 1 mortar which killed one Israeli and injured one yet Israel still did not avenge.
- In April, May and June Hamas fired about 100 rockets which injured many Israelis, but Israel’s response was simply to produce political pressure.
According to a UN report:
“Palestinians armed groups fired 4881 rockets and 1753 mortars towards Israel from 8th July and 20th August 2014. At least 243 of these projectiles were intercepted by Israel’s Iron Dom missile defence system, while at least 34 fell short and landed within the Gaza strip.”
Most of the rockets and mortars hit in Israel’s built-up areas and damaged civilian structure such as residential homes, infrastructure, public buildings and educational institutions. Out of thousands Hamas rocket attacks, 224 rockets directly hit civilian residential areas and these terror acts are considered war crimes against humanity. Hamas rocket attacks temporarily weakened Israel’s economic hub such as Tel Aviv airport when the airport authorities cancelled international and national flights for 36 hours and shut the airport which cost a huge financial damage to the Israel.
According to Amnesty International Report:
By the end of 26th August, the Israel’s tax authority had already paid the equivalent of some US$20 million as compensation for “direct damages”, including damage to buildings and vehicles.
The Operation Protective Edge had cost the Israeli economy almost half as much as originally thought. The most effected sector in Israel was tourism during the Israel-Hamas war, which brought down the tourists from abroad including hotel, restaurant industries and airline revenues. Many Israeli businesses in the war-torn region were forced to shut down or reduce work during the conflict.
According to the Bank of Israel:
“Though early estimates put the damage to Israel’s economic growth at .5%-.6% of GDP, the Bank’s new estimate, from its forthcoming annual report, put the damage at .3% of GDP, around NIS 3.5 billion.”
Could any nation tolerate such type of threat to its nations? Of course not! Any democratic country would react even more aggressively than Israel had acted against the terrorist acts of Hamas. The US is now leading a coalition of nations in an endeavour to destroy ISIS, employing many of the same military tactics for which some these nations blamed Israel.
The Muslim world always blames Israel and the US for not allowing them to have their own separate state, which a widely spread propaganda war against Israel. In bias and hatred against the Jewish nation, the followers of Islam have forgotten the historical context which shows that Israel was always serious to offer them a separate state. It was Yasser Arafat and other Palestinian political leadership that not only refused the statehood proposal, but incited the violence and terrorist instead. Below, are a few historical offers of statehood that were rejected and strongly disapproved by the Palestinian leaders.
- The Peel commission in 1937
- The UN offer or partition plan in 1947
- The Oslo accord in 1994
- Camp David-Tab Peace offer in 2000-2001
- Completely withdraw from the Gaza strip in 2005
- Ehud Olmert offer in 2008
In October 2001, just three weeks after the 9/11, the President of the US George W Bush announced that: “The United States supported the creation of a Palestinian state”.
Yasser Arafat refused the most generous offer of the statehood by Israel, which was considered a great crime. The offer which Arafat rejected, Saudi Prince Bander Bin Sultan called it a crime against the Palestinians.
- The Palestinian statehood
- Nearly 97% of the occupied territories
- The old city of Jerusalem, including Masjid Al-Aqsa
- $30 billion in compensation for the refugees
Yasser Arafat rejected the most generous offer in the history of the Israel-Palestine conflict. Saudi Arabian prince Bander Bin Sultan called this rejection a real crime. He stated to Yasser Arafat:
“Sir, what I told you. If we lose this opportunity, it is not going to be a tragedy, it is going to be a CRIME.”
Now, it’s not Israel who should be blamed for not offering peace and statehood of Palestine, but Yasser Arafat and Palestinian leaderships including Hamas. Israel, the US and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia were serious for Palestinians to have their own separate state, but they were not interested in a separate state but terrorism, violence and war against the Jewish state of Israel. The kingdom of Saudi Arabia knew that the Palestinian’s political leadership was not and would never be serious for the rights and freedom of Palestinians.
At that point, when Yasser Arafat rejected the Palestinian statehood in 2000, Saudi Prince Bander Bin Sultan was so disheartened with Arafat’s rejection and he asserted to him:
“Either you take this deal or we go to war against Israel. If you take this deal, we will all throw our weight behind you. If you do not take this deal, do you think anybody will go to war for you?”
This was a final admonition to the Palestinians leadership that in future KSA will not support them in any war against the state of Israel.
Operation Protective Edge was a need of that time when a country’s security was at risk by Hamas. Israel always shows a generous humanitarian attitude towards Gaza. In 2005, after withdrawing from the Gaza strip, Israel made a deal with the PA (Palestinian Authority) to open the Rafah crossing on the Egypt-Gaza border. The deal was part of an attempt to bolster trade and economic development in Gaza for the welfare of the Palestinian people.
The Rafah crossing was open until the first half of 2006. Hamas quickly recapitulates its attacks and February 2006, Hamas fired 47 rockets into Israel and in June hundreds of local and Iranian made rockets were launched at Israel. It was a great danger and security risk for Israel to continue opening this crossing.
People around the world claim that because of Israel’s blockade, Gazan people chose their survival through underground tunnels. However, people are unaware that these underground tunnels were used for many unlawful and illegal activities to harm Israeli citizens such as:
- Hamas has no any reason to dig these tunnels from Gaza to any southern Israeli cities other than to kidnap Israeli citizens and army personnel to accomplish its political goals. For example, they were used in the kidnaping of IDF soldier Gilad Shalit and the killing of two Israelis and injuring many in 2006.
- Hamas digs underground tunnels from the Gaza border to the Egyptian border to smuggle arms to apply against Israel and gain illegal money for their personal benefits.
- Each tunnel costs $3 million to Hamas and at this time the IDF had found 30 tunnels. These 30 tunnels amounts to the cost of $90 million to Hamas.
Hamas could have invested the $90 million dollars in the welfare of Palestinian people. If Hamas stops digging one tunnel, it can save $3 million and they could have built:
- 86 Homes
- 7 Mosques
- 6 Schools
- 19 Medical clinics
According to Israeli official reports:
“More than 2,000 rockets and mortars were launched from Gaza into Israel in the first six months of 2008.”
It’s not only the financial damage to the people of Gaza investing millions of dollars to make a tunnel by Hamas, but it’s a disservice to humans and new generations lost. Many young Palestinian kids die digging these tunnels and the loss of Palestinian’s lives of children can never be replaced by money. According to an Institute for Palestinians study, which published a detailed report on Gaza tunnels in the summer of 2012:
“At least 160 children have been killed in the tunnels, regarding to Hamas officials.”
This is typical to what Hamas does. Hamas strategy is to use civilians, including children and women as a human shield, whether in a war against Israel or in digging the terror tunnels.
The world must condemn these inhuman actions which come under crimes against Humanity. Hamas always achieves their political goals through sacrificing their own children, which counter terrorism pundits named it, “Hamas dead baby strategy”.
The author, Nicolas Pelham, explains that:
Hamas uses child labourers to build their terror tunnels because much as in Victorian coal mines, they are prized for their nimble bodies.
I follow what Professor Alan Dershowits says which is that Israelis and Palestinians have the right to live in peace. Hamas and its fellow terror organisations deny that right, and disrupt every attempt to move the peace process forward. This is why Operation Protective Edge was necessary against Hamas to weaken the terror activities and its capabilities.
Note: these all images are taken from IDF website.