Breaking down assumptions about the Gaza Strip

Well, here we go again. Not since Operation Cast Lead in December 2008 has Israeli military action been so controversial or violently condemned. The Israel Defense Forces conducted a raid on an aid flotilla on its way to Gaza after the flotilla attempted to run the Israeli blockade. Nine Turks aboard the flotilla were killed and over 600 detained.

If you want to form a credible opinion, especially regarding the Middle East, it’s best to gather information from multiple sources, not just one. It’s also best to step back and take a look at the big picture instead of viewing an incident in isolation.

That said, let’s go back to 2005 when Israel still controlled the Gaza Strip. Israel transferred control of Gaza to the Palestinian Authority to further the peace process in accordance to the Sharm el-Sheikh Commitments, withdrawing all Israeli settlers and troops in August 2005.

Hamas, recognized as a terrorist organization by Canada, the United States and the European Union, launched Kassam rockets from Gaza into Israel shortly after. Only six months later, in January 2006, Hamas defeated the more moderate Fatah party and gained control of the Palestinian Legislative Council. Minus a six-month “calm” period, Israel has seen a consistent stream of Kassam rockets from Hamas since.

The Charter of Hamas calls for the elimination of the state of Israel and that “Israel, by virtue of its being Jewish and of having a Jewish population, defies Islam and the Muslims.”

While that won’t do much to further the peace process, Israel is not completely blameless. Now the international community has called for Israel to stop settlements in East Jerusalem and the West Bank. Israel does not necessarily need to give up the lands, but a Geneva Convention prohibits them from settling in lands taken by force.

Although Israeli settlements are not the popular issue right now, one must have an understanding of these territory disputes to understand the Gaza flotilla raid. Israel didn’t give back the Gaza Strip only to have to reinvade it.

“What we want to prevent coming into Gaza are rockets, missiles, explosives and war materials that could be used to attack our civilians,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said while he was in Ottawa.

Netanyahu also stated that Israel has no quarrel with the people of Gaza, but rather with the terrorist regime Hamas.

Hamas is dedicated to an extremist ideology that harms Jew and Palestinian alike. Hamas guarantees civilian casualties in Gaza by using human shields. Israel thus cannot kill any Hamas member without first killing a civilian, sparking international condemnation. All the while, Hamas continues to send Kassam rockets into Israel with nary a murmer from the international community.

The flotilla raid is not about Israel’s oppression of Gaza’s people. It is about Hamas’ oppression of Gaza’s people and threat to Israel through their extremist views. The Israel Defense Forces said they found weaponry aboard the aid ship.

Hamas does not care about its own civilians at all, just their ideology.

If Palestinians and Jews want to end the oppression in Gaza, they should put their efforts towards opposing Hamas, not Israel. Hamas is responsible for violating human rights across the board, and it is Hamas that is truly causing the most destruction to the Palestinian people.

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