Israel: Damned if they do, damned if they don't

Have you heard the saying “working twice as hard to be half as good?”

This is precisely the dilemma Israel finds itself in all too often. Currently Israel is again embroiled in an unwanted battle of self-defense against Hamas, an enemy obsessed with its destruction.

It seems a distant memory that in an effort to appease the demands being made upon it by world leaders, Israel made a gut-wrenching decision in 2005 to unilaterally withdraw from the Gaza Strip, after a 38-year presence.

Communities were left intact, which included useful structures such as greenhouses. Yet as if to drill their hatred into the hearts of Israelis, the Palestinian’s destroyed virtually every structure once Israel vacated Gaza.

Thus Israel’s olive branch for peace backfired. Bad went to worse in 2006 when the Palestinians democratically voted the terrorist group Hamas into power. Subsequent to this, Hamas consolidated their control by violently purging Fatah from representation in the government.

Since Israel’s unilateral withdrawal, Hamas has been actively expressing its appreciation by launching no less than 9-10,000 rockets [not including the current conflict] intended to kill civilians at Israeli cities and towns. This is an average of 1,100 each year.

Should any country have to put up with this?

In 2008 Israel decided it had tolerated enough of its civilians being under attack. In late December it launched Operation Cast Lead and went after the terrorists.

Prior to the offensive, thousands of phone calls were made to various agencies and individuals inside Gaza informing them of the impending operation. Helicopters dropped millions of leaflets, and announcements were made on TV inside Gaza. All of this was done specifically to reduce civilian casualties. What military in human history has made such an effort to reduce civilian casualties?

However, as if to ensure there would be civilian casualties, Hamas placed their rocket launching infrastructure in schools, hospitals, mosques and apartment buildings. Their strategy worked. Despite unprecedented efforts to avoid civilian deaths, Israel took resounding criticism from the media and world leaders. They were accused of using “disproportionate force” in Gaza.

Where were the voices speaking out when Israeli civilians were under relentless rocket attacks? Israel’s right to defend itself against blatant terrorism was largely ignored by the international community.

One Israeli diplomat’s reaction to the criticism was “when the response to terrorism is viewed as less acceptable than terrorism itself, we invite more of it.”

Today with Israel once again having to defend itself from hundreds of rocket attacks by Hamas, we hear similar cries from the Arab block as well as others in the international community. Mahmoud Abbas, who Shimon Peres recently said is “the best partner we have and the best we’ve ever had,” has accused Israel of committing “genocide” against Gazans. If comments like this come from Israel’s “best partner” for peace, G-d help Shimon Peres.

Moreover, how many people recall the very day Israeli PM Netanyahu was publically holding Abbas responsible for the safety of the three kidnapped Jewish teens, who later turned up murdered, Abbas’s wife Amina was being treated in a new private Israeli hospital?

As if that isn’t hard enough to believe, what are the odds that Israel would treat a family member of the  terrorist group responsible for firing thousands of rockets into Israel? Yet in November 2013 the granddaughter of Hamas PM Ismael Haniyeh was admitted into Schneider Children’s hospital in Petach Tikvah because she could not obtain desperately needed treatment in Gaza. Her condition was fatal and she ended up returning to Gaza where she passed away.

Israel has also treated hundreds of Syrian victims of the lengthy civil war which has killed over 160,000 to date.

All this raises a few questions. What do you think the odds are that the wife of PM Netanyahu would be treated similarly in a Ramallah hospital? Suppose he requested his granddaughter be treated at a hospital in Gaza? Or what do you think might happen if Israelis requested medical treatment in Syria?

The answers to these questions are obvious. Yet Israel continues to demonstrate its humanity and compassion in spite of how it’s vilified by its enemies and criticized by many world leaders.

Currently Israel is again enduring hundreds of rockets being fired at its civilian population by Hamas and other terrorists inside Gaza. Israel’s Air Force has responded with pinpoint air strikes and destroyed a significant number of Hamas’s rocket launching facilities. However, because Hamas has once again intentionally placed them in civilian areas it’s virtually impossible to avoid some unintended casualties. In spite of taking every possible measure to avoid civilian deaths, Israel is again being criticized. Demonstrations have taken place in several international cities leveling harsh criticism at the Jewish state.

This didn’t dissuade Israel from immediately accepting terms of an Egyptian brokered cease fire. However it seems Hamas’ understanding of it was ‘they cease, we fire.’ Six hours after Israel began honoring the cease fire, having endured roughly 50 rockets from Hamas, Israel announced they were resuming military action. They issued warnings to over 100,000 residents of Gaza living near the border to be prepared for a possible ground incursion. When or if the ground incursion takes place, we can be assured no matter how much effort Israel makes to reduce civilian casualties they will undoubtedly incur criticism unworthy of their protective efforts.

Israel is damned if they do, and damned if they don’t.

No civilized nation should be expected to endure attempts to murder its civilians, especially on a sustained basis. Israel has the right to take protective measures to ensure the safety of its people. As long as they face an enemy who believes it’s honorable to murder innocent civilians, I have only one suggestion for those who criticize Israel for doing what any other nation would do under similar circumstances-

 Please come and live in Sderot.

Dan Calic is a writer, history student and speaker. See additional articles on his Facebook page .