IN THE MEDIA

We cannot dismiss the threat that Hamas poses

Jan 14, 2009 | Allon Lee

Crikey.com.au
14 January 2009

Allon Lee, Policy Analyst, Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council writes:

Guy Rundle may want to dismiss and ridicule the significance of Hamas’ explicit commitment to eliminate Israel and kill its people, and its growing ability to fire rockets and mortars into ever-increasing areas of Israel, but Israelis do not.

Indeed, the Israeli public’s overwhelming and sober support for the military operation is a bellwether of the seriousness with which Israelis take the thousands of rockets and mortars that have been fired by Hamas for years, dramatically escalating after Israel’s lock, stock and barrel withdrawal from Gaza in August 2005.

For Rundle to question why the military incursion occurred now is disingenuous. The range and sophistication of missiles and rockets from Gaza into Israel’s southern cities, particularly Sderot with its 20,000 residents, has increased over the last few years, particularly under the cover of last year’s ceasefire.

Hamas can now target and reach strategic assets like power stations and chemical factories in Ashkelon, Israel’s largest and economically critical port at Ashdod and nuclear facilities at Dimona

According to Rundle’s ludicrous claim, Israel’s leadership is only interested in burnishing its security credentials for re-election purposes, but what kind of responsible government does not respond to rockets being fired at its citizens?

Rundle also ignores the fact that one million Israelis are now under direct threat of rocket attack and it was Hamas’ decision to not renew the six-month ceasefire that ended on 19 December, which they underlined with another barrage of hundreds of rockets and mortars.

Furthermore, regardless of the “low” number of Israeli fatalities, thousands of Israelis have suffered injuries and trauma associated with indiscriminate rockets and mortars landing on their homes and schools. A 2008 study revealed that over 75% of Sderot children displayed symptoms consistent with post-traumatic stress syndrome. How many Israeli fatalities, kindergartens flattened and hospitals destroyed are needed before the likes of Rundle will be less disapproving?

Should Israel be punished because it has implemented security systems and responses that are geared towards minimising the number of Israeli victims of rocket attacks?

The tragic deaths of any innocent Gazan brings no comfort to Israelis, who just want to go about their daily lives. But the sad reality is that Hamas fires rockets from civilian areas and uses its own people and children as human shields, knowing full well the propaganda value of Palestinian civilian deaths.

Here’s five things we can all hope for: let Hamas renounce violence as an option, stop its noxious anti-Israel incitement, accept Israel’s legitimate existence, endorse peace as a strategic goal and for Rundle and his ilk to wake up to reality.

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