Life in Israel: sirens, missiles, struggle
With the collapse of peace negotiations in Cairo on Aug. 19, Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip resumed rocket attacks on the state of Israel. Many believed that Operation Protective Edge — rightfully launched by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) on July 8 — wouldn't be over anytime soon. However, on Aug. 26, Israel and Hamas accepted an Egyptian-brokered, open-ended cease-fire. This is the 12th time in 50 days that Israel has agreed to another cease-fire attempt with this recognized terrorist organization.
The Jerusalem Post reported that Palestinians poured into the streets of Gaza shortly after to celebrate the so-called "victory for the resistance." Classifying the end of the operation as a "victory" for Hamas seems somewhat ironic, considering more than 2,000 Gazans have died and up to 500,000 have been displaced. However, this comes as no surprise to the Israeli community. In the mindset of a Hamas leader, the Arab-Israeli conflict is a psychological war; a war that utilizes and manipulates the media to spark international outrage against Israel, ultimately hoping to weaken its public image and support system.
In light of recent events — particularly proof depicting Israel's devotion to minimizing civilian causalities and her willingness to accept a cease-fire that will most likely be broken by Hamas yet again — it amazes me how much of the global community is still bent on demonizing and delegitimizing the state of Israel.
According to ABC News, the catalyst for launching Operation Protective Edge can be traced back to Hamas' direct involvement in the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli yeshiva students: Naftali Frenkel (16), Gilad Shaar (16), and Eyal Yifrach (19). During the intense seven-week conflict, the IDF has taken measures like no other to prevent civilians from being caught in the crossfire — sending text messages, making phone calls, air-dropping leaflets and roof-knocking to warn Palestinians before firing into Gaza. While the IDF does everything in its power to minimize casualties, Hamas calls on its own people to serve as human shields, which is a war crime in itself.
The New York Times revealed that rockets have been stored in and launched from schools, mosques, hospitals and civilian housing. Densely populated areas have also been used to set traps for Israeli soldiers and conceal the extensive terror network tunnels running from Gaza to Israel. The civilians of Gaza aren't victims of the alleged occupation or the alleged Israeli apartheid, but rather victims of Hamas' complete disregard for the sanctity of human life. The cruelty they inflict upon their own people is appalling and inhumane. We should free the Palestinian people from the ones at fault for oppressing them: Hamas, not Israel.
Even after living, studying, and volunteering in Israel, it never ceases to amaze me how life continues on as usual in times of hardship and struggle. Amid the sirens and rocket fire, people go about their daily lives. Hamas has launched more than 4,564 projectiles toward the state of Israel, and if this doesn't legitimize Israel's basic right to defend itself and its people, then I don't know what does.
In 2011, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said: "If Palestine were to lay down their guns tomorrow, there would be no war. If Israel were to lay down theirs, there would be no Israel." Prominent Arab leaders and their affiliates have continuously called for the destruction of Israel, and they aren't subtle about their overarching desire to wipe Israel off the map, either. In order to even begin the peace process in the Middle East, the Palestinian population must first recognize the state of Israel and stop dubbing those who kill Israelis as martyrs. The road to achieving peace will not be an easy one, but Israeli officials have repeatedly stated that it's willing to take the necessary measures to resolve this years-old conflict.