Gaza Conflict: The Latest
For Years, the nation of Israel and its over three million citizens have been forced to live under the constant threat of rocket attacks, crimes of hatred against their children, abductions, murders, threats, mortars, and even attempted invasions by terrorist forces through tunnel networks. Imagine life in Europe during WWII: The regularity of air-raid sirens and the constant threat of destruction made life almost unbearable for some. As the sirens blared, a young girl would grab her favorite doll, tuck her hand into the hand of her mom or dad, and run to the nearest bomb shelter in an attempt to retrieve a general sense of safety amid the chaos. This is life in Israel, and it has been since the beginning of Israel’s existence – A history marked by war and the constant battle to simply exist as a people and as a nation. The headlines of today are filled with the scattered stories of the current operation undertaken by the Israeli Defense Forces in defense of their home.
“Operation Protective Edge” began on July 7th, 2014 after more than 450 rockets had been fired into Israel during the year 2014 – Some hitting civilian centers, this operation was also undertaken by the Israeli Defense Forces after several well-built “tunnels” were discovered, which gave Hamas militants the opportunity to expand their constant offensive against Israel to also include causing havoc among various Israeli towns and population centers. According to the Israeli Defense Forces, over 1,000 rockets/mortars have been fired into Israel from Gaza within the short duration of the Operation; which has only led to the increasing of the offensive undertaken by the Israeli military and government. According to estimates by both the Israeli Defense Forces and the United Nations, the following stats are available regarding the conflict in Gaza:
-Over 1,300 Palestinians have been killed, with over 6,000 injured.
-3,000 Palestinian refugees, as well as UN personnel, were present when Israeli artillery shells struck a UN School providing humanitarian assistance to refugees, 20 were killed.
-80% of those killed within the conflict have been civilians, with 250 of those being children.
-3 Israeli Civilians have been killed, along with 56 Israeli soldiers, Dozens have also been injured.
-Since 2001, over 15,200 rockets/mortars have been launched at Israel.
-According to the Israeli Foreign Ministry, Israel is now supplying Gaza with various amounts of fuel and supplies: 4 million liters of Diesel Fuel for the power plant, 3 million liters of fuel 800,000 liters of Benzene for transportation-related purposes, 1.6 tons of domestic gas, as well as over 750 tons of food and medical/humanitarian supplies.
-Even though a large number of innocent civilians have been caught in the crossfire, it is not to say that the Israeli Defense Forces have not made a conscious and complete effort to encourage the evacuation of innocent civilians from the area. According to the Jerusalem Post: “Close to 100,000 leaflets containing warning message were dropped over the territory and hundreds of thousands of citizens receive messages telling them to vacate villages; security cabinet to convene Friday morning.”
We would also like to detail that “Operation Protective Edge” is the third of three operations undertaken by the Israeli military targeting the Gaza strip and the Hamas militants in that area. The Operations were:
-Operation Cast Lead (2008) – Began in the month of December, and according to the Israel Defense Forces: “Almost immediately after the operation, Hamas focused on rearming itself and increasing its military capabilities. The terrorist organization extended the range and quality of weapons that threaten Israel’s civilian population. Thousands of rockets were smuggled into Gaza, and many of the terror cells which Israel neutralized in 2008 have been revived.”
–Operation Pillar of Defense (2012) – Began on November 14th and lasted eight days with over 1,506 rockets being fired at Israel during the operation, of which the majority struck Israel. According to the Israeli Defense Forces: “During the eight days of the operation — and in the weeks leading up to it — life was unbearable for more than 3.5 million Israelis. From November 14 to November 21, Palestinian terrorist groups fired more than 1,506 rockets at Israel. The majority of those rockets struck Israel, damaging homes, schools and other civilian areas.”
-Operation Protective Edge (2014) – Began on July 7th, and is still in effect. According to the Israeli Defense Forces: “The operation is ongoing, and since the start of the operation over 1000 rockets have been launched at Israel. Of those, 754 have hit Israel and approximately 201 were intercepted by the Iron Dome Missile defense system.”
Many high-profile members of the International Community have expressed their worries about the conflict, with United Nations personnel continually working towards a humanitarian cease fire and condemning both sides for the tragic loss of civilian life. Many have also expressed their reservations about the current “blockade” that Israel has implemented against Gaza for years, with Democrat Representative Keith Ellison writing in an article on “The Washington Post”: “Being able to import goods such as food, fuel and medicine would mean that Gazans would not be forced to buy necessities from a tunnel economy controlled by extremists.” With the recent news that both Hamas and the Israeli Government have agreed to a ceasefire beginning on Friday (8/1/14), International Humanitarian groups, as well as the United Nations, are hopeful for an end to the fighting. At the same time, many are also demanding the full demilitarization of the Gaza strip and the complete disarming of Hamas, the leading proponent of this proposed solution is Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who stated: “The operation against the tunnels is a first and necessary step in the demilitarization of the Gaza Strip. The process of preventing the arming of the terrorist organization and demilitarizing the Gaza Strip must be part of any solution. The international community needs to demand this explicitly.” There is no doubt that this ongoing conflict is something to watch, especially as the rampant persecution of those of the Jewish and Christian faiths continues to climb the ladder of expansion; With militant Islamic groups such as ISIS, Hamas, Al-Qaeda, and many others once again gaining a foothold on select parts of the middle East.