Third-year, human development
Amidst stressing over midterms like any typical UC Davis student last week, I received a panic text from my sister: “The alarms went off again. I am going back into the bomb shelter. Neighbors already lost service, so if I lose mine soon, I love you.” Staring at my phone, I try not to think that this might be the last time I hear from my sister who lives in Southern Israel, one mile north of the Gaza Strip. I try to focus, but my mind is preoccupied.
The next day I received a phone call; “Hi, can’t talk, I have to pack, don’t know when or if I will come back. I love you, I’ll call when I can.” I am again struck that this brief conversation may be the last I get with my sister as the situation in the Middle East has become painfully personal.
While many of the conflicts in the Middle East are about religion, the one between Israel and the Palestinians is not — it is purely an issue of politics. Innocent victims to the political aspirations of the combatants are on both sides.
No Israeli deserves a lifestyle dominated by alarms and rushing into bomb shelters. No Palestinian deserves to live under the threat of Israeli retaliation for unprovoked rocket attacks.
The history of Israel makes clear that Palestinians and Israelis must unite against the common enemy of peace in the region, Hamas. We should recognize Hamas’ true agenda as the government in Gaza, and a recognized terrorist organization whose efforts have turned Gaza into an armed camp. While electricity and building materials are in short supply, Hamas has managed to smuggle in thousands of rockets.
Hamas’ sole goal is to achieve a single-state solution by destroying Israel. He hides behind Palestinian civilians by putting military equipment, soldiers and launch sites in residential neighborhoods. Rocket launchers used to fire into civilian areas in Israel are immediately targeted and destroyed by the Israeli air force. Israel is forced to choose between doing nothing while its civilians are being bombed, or to destroy Hamas’ rockets while risking Palestinian lives.
Israel is a nation that protects its citizens with defensive measures. Most schools and other public buildings all have bomb shelters as part of their design. Israel also has radar systems that set off public sirens warning of imminent rocket attacks. Israel’s Iron Dome intercepted and destroyed hundreds of incoming rockets that would have otherwise harmed, and potentially killed civilians.
This is not a conflict between Israelis and Palestinians; it is a necessary police action against Hamas to remove the threat of indiscriminate rocket fire designed to terrorize Israeli civilians.
As of Monday Nov. 19, the Israeli Air Force carried out over 1,200 air attacks on positions in Gaza. If civilians in Gaza were being targeted, think of the number of innocent lives likely to be lost in such a densely populated area.
While any loss of innocent life is a tragedy, the fact that only a relative handful of civilians were killed in 1,200 air raids is hard to believe. America’s raids on terrorists in Iraq and Afghanistan kill many more innocent civilians. Israel drops leaflets before an attack, warning civilians to leave the area.
Who fights a war like this? Not even the United States — only Israel. No matter how hard Israel tries to protect innocent civilians, inevitably innocent lives are lost in wartime chaos. Israel has the right to exist, and the right to retaliate and defend itself against terror.