Israel and Hamas: Cease fires and the right of self-defense

Israel and Hamas: Cease fires and the right of self-defense

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SAN JOSE – April 28, 2014 —  Preceding the current announcement of a truce and an extended cease-fire established between Israel and Hamas, there was a concerted effort on the part of many organizations and political figures promoting a peace in the area, which are noble gestures aimed at similar outcomes. Yet, not all efforts promoting peace are created equally. Many pro-Israel groups were calling for the ceasefire because Hamas had initiated the launching of rockets from Gaza into Israel and wanted it to end. Those supporting Hamas wanted a cease-fire ostensibly to curtail Israel’s retaliation.

Between Hamas rockets and Israeli retaliatory missile strikes, the region was ripped apart, and many concerned individuals around the world sought to understand the most recent series of tragic events. The latest conflict has lasted almost two months and the fighting has left much more devastation in Gaza than in the previous battles between Israel and Iranian-backed Hamas. The U.N. estimates that 2,100 Palestinian civilians were caught in the crossfire and killed. In addition, the destruction has left hundreds of thousands displaced. Many in Gaza cheered when they learned of the news of the successful conclusions and the truce terms.

Yet, many in Israel are skeptical that the truce will last.

There is good reason for this, as not long after Israels’ takeover of Gaza in 1967 after the war with Egypt, the Israelis sought to rid the area of the secular PLO activities. At that time, the perceived common enemy of Israel and the Muslims was Fatah, the dominate faction of the Palestinian Liberation Organization. Prior to the founding of Hamas in 1987, Israel seemed more tolerant of the Muslims than even the secular Egyptian government, and relations between Israel and the Muslims in Gaza were fairly peaceful.

Once HAMAS was created as an offshoot of the Palestinian faction of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, the radical Muslims would often attack the secular Palestinian organizations. Though the Israeli military stayed out of such conflicts, Hamas eventually attacked Israel in 1989 when it killed two Israel soldiers.

As Hamas began, the infant group was supported by Muslim Brotherhood initiated charities and social institutions that had established a strong foothold in the occupied territories in Gaza. Initially, there seemed to be cordial relations between the leaders of Hamas and Israel. Then, Hamas accused Mossad, the Israeli intelligence service, of undermining the Palestinian youth by perceived efforts to recruit young people as collaborators with the Israeli government.

Additionally, the Hamas charter called for the destruction of Israel, which would be replaced by an Islamic Palestinian nation. It also has rejected any political agreements between Israel and the PLO. Since the 1990s, the military arm of Hamas has conducted several attacks against Israel.

The United States has designated Hamas as a Foreign Terrorist Organization, even though in 2006, Hamas won legislative elections in the Palestinian territories. It ended the secular Fatah party’s hold over the Palestinian Authority and effectively challenged the existing leadership within the Palestinian national movement.

Even with such legitimacy, Hamas refuses to recognize Israel or curtail any unprovoked violence against Israelis, which has included suicide bombings, and continued mortar and rocket attacks against Israel. It must be understood that although HAMAS has gained the proverbial upper hand in Gaza, it often has trouble controlling other militant Muslim factions, or so it claims.

But the larger question is where are the weapons, the mortars, the rockets, coming from?

With the Middle East exploding in so many sectors of the region, one has to wonder whether the Muslim Brotherhood has greater influence over Hamas, or if Iran has gained control of a very useful ally. From its first attack against Israel, the primary Muslim Brotherhood founder of Hamas, Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, was arrested and sentenced to life imprisonment, and Israel Defense Forces rounded up and deported 400 HAMAS activists to southern Lebanon. It was during this time that Hamas developed a relationship with the Iranian originated terrorist organization known as Hezbollah, which seems to use many names. Although there are allusions or illusions with regard to other names, in 2003 an American court decision identified the Islamic Jihad Organization as another name used by Hezbollah.

After 1979, when the Ayatollah Khomeini orchestrated the takeover of Iran, also known as the “Islamic Revolution,” his followers helped form Hezbollah, or literally the “Party of Allah” or “Party of God,” as a means of spreading the radical and militant version of Shi’a ideology throughout Lebanon. Today, the U.S., Israel, and other allies recognize that Hezbollah uses many aliases like the IJO, or others such as the “Organization of the Oppressed on Earth” and the “Revolutionary Justice Organization.” It is also reported that Hezbollah has used the name “Islamic Resistance” in attacks on Israel. Since the Ayatollah Khomeini successfully orchestrated the “Islamic Revolution” while in exile in France, Hezbollah (or the essence of the organization by whatever proxies) is active in Europe.

On August 2, 2010, Hamas launched a rocket attacks upon Eilat in Israel and Aqaba in Jordon. This sparked a very strong reaction from Egypt as it expressed anger toward Hamas and Iran. At the time, the Egyptian media seriously condemned the firing of the rockets from Egypt by HAMAS or by Muslim factions working in conjunction with the organization. The Egyptian view is that Iran is using Hamas, as well as other terrorist factions, as its proxy to foment terror and violence in the Middle East. Especially, Egypt appears to view such Iranian efforts as intended to sabotage the efforts to renew Palestinian-Israeli peace negotiations. Nevertheless, HAMAS seems capable of committing terror on its own. That June in 2010, Mahmoud a-Zahar, a senior Hamas official called upon Palestinian residents of the West Bank to launch rockets toward Israel.

From a more general perspective, there appears to be a pattern from HAMAS in that they will launch attacks, terrorize the Israeli citizens, enrage the Israeli government, then call for a cease-fire as they appeal to the world community for sympathy from the attacking IDF. Then, in the interim, they rebuild, regroup, and reload, and wait for the next opportunity or excuse to launch and restart the process all over. With the latest efforts reaching fruition, the Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank expressed happiness and the sense of a HAMAS victory when they learned of the news of the successful conclusions and the truce terms that had been brokered by the Egyptians. Nevertheless, many in Israel seem justifiably skeptical that the truce will last in light of the pattern with which they are all too familiar.

At the end of July, the U.S. House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly 395-8 on a bill to provide Israel with $225 million for their missile defense system known as the “Iron Dome.” The bill also passed quickly through the Senate after initially getting bogged down after Republican Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma tried to specify items that could be cut from the budget to pay for the foreign aid earmarked for restocking Israel’s Iron Dome. According to an article published on August 15, by Yoav Zitun on Ynet, during the period of time in which the attacks were taking place, Operation Protective Edge had recorded over 600 hits of rockets that were fired at Israel, which apparently was a 90% success rate.

Despite the success in saving Israeli citizen’s lives, there were some in Congress who did not vote for the Iron Dome funding. Surprisingly four Republicans and four Democrats voted against the bill for funding. Not surprisingly, one of the four Democrats, Keith Ellison, representative from Minnesota, is one of the only Muslims in Congress. In fact, he was the first Muslim to be elected to Congress back in 2006. It is not surprising that he voted against funding the Iron Dome because he is a Muslim. However, the excuse he gate seems a bit illogical. When he was interviewed on Meet the Press to explain his vote, he basically stated that, “a cease-fire is what we should prioritize now…”

On the surface, Ellison’s point may appear logical to those who do not take into account the seemingly recurrent pattern of HAMAS’ attacks. Ellison explained that “A cease-fire protects civilians on both sides – it doesn’t just say, ‘We’re only concerned about people on one side.’” However, his logic when reduced to its rudimentary form is simple: It’s not fair! I am not going to give you money for a shield to protect yourself from attack because the attackers don’t have a shield! Obviously, it makes sense. HAMAS needs time to figure this out, so why vote for a way Israel can defend itself? It makes perfect sense if you are a supporter of militant Muslim terrorism. The real question is why did seven other members of Congress deny such funding?

While many ducked under the radar, some were noticed in voting against the support of the Iron Dome funding. Texas Democrat Beto O’Rourke, freshman representative from the El Paso area, isn’t Muslim, but seems to be trying as hard as he can to continue surviving as Democrat in Texas. He used the same simplistic logic in voting against the Dome funding bill. Apparently, according to multiple sources, he had deleted re-tweets that had referred to Israel’s right of defense as an “atrocity.”  The others who did not approve the bill for Israel’s defense can be located in various places on the Web; however, the logic is not inconsistent with gun control arguments in the Democrat Party.

In reality, such votes by Democrats make sense because they see a crime committed with a gun and immediately spring into action demanding gun control. However, if you apply the same logic in the case of Israel, most have supported Israel’s right of self-defense. This in reality is what the Founding Fathers wanted to ensure that Americans would always have as a protected right via the Second Amendment of the Constitution. Those in Congress in helping Israel have not only affirmed common sense, they have validated the wisdom of the Founding Fathers. If however, you apply the revers logic to America, the majority of Democrats would advocate the opposite for American citizens! Democrats like Keith Ellison and Beto O’Rourke may just be more consistently Democrat! One may wonder what excuse Republicans would have?

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