ISRAEL HAS BEEN receiving considerable criticism around the nation and world for its recent attacks against Hamas forces in Gaza. Demonstrators in many places, including the Bay Area, have condemned Israel for its air strikes, which are designed to halt Hamas rocket attacks against Israeli civilians.
Anyone blaming Israel for the recent violence is grossly misinformed and plays into the hands of terrorists.
After Israel abandoned Jewish settlements in the Gaza Strip and Hamas came to power, there have been relentless rocket and mortar attacks against the people of Israel. Since 2007, more than 5,500 rockets have been launched from Gaza.
With the end of a cease-fire last month, rocket attacks resumed with a vengeance, endangering Israeli civilians, disrupting businesses and terrorizing those within the increasing range of the rockets.
The hope of Israelis and, no doubt, many Palestinians was that peace and progress would have been the results of Israel's decision to remove Jewish settlements in Gaza. Instead, rocket attacks have ensued, and Hamas continues to refuse to recognize Israel's right to exist.
As a result, Israel has struck back. It has the legal right under international law and a moral obligation to protect its citizens from constant rocket and mortar attacks. Fortunately, barriers and strict security have sharply diminished suicide bombers from Gaza, but not the rockets.
These rocket attacks specifically target civilians, not Israeli military facilities. That is a war crime and an act of terrorism.
In fact, Hamas is committing three war crimes: targeting civilians in Israel, using civilians in Gaza as human shields and seeking the destruction of another nation.
Israel removed Jewish settlements in Gaza, has tried negotiations and agreed to cease-fires with no success in stopping the rocket attacks. That is why it is now using force.
While there have been many civilian casualties in Gaza, Israel is not targeting them. It is attacking buildings suspected of holding arms, often with warning shortly in advance of the attack. Israel also is attacking suspected rocket launching sites. In the meantime, Israel has sent medical aid to Gaza
Hamas, on the other hand, does not try to lessen civilian casualties. It keeps its own citizens near military targets to dissuade Israel from striking them.
If the Hamas government in Gaza truly wants the Israeli attacks to stop, it can do so quickly by putting an end to the rocket launches.
Hamas also could have a long-term peace with Israel by recognizing its right to exist, calling off suicide bombings, negotiating in good faith and establishing normal working relations with Israel.
Unfortunately, peace is not on the Hamas agenda. Instead, it has provoked Israel to attack and then has used the human suffering cased by the attacks to garner sympathy for itself and contempt for Israel.
It is dismaying that such tactics by Hamas have worked so well even among those who should know better.
Israel should be supported for defending itself against terrorism. It is Hamas that deserves condemnation.