On June 12, 2014, the day that three Israeli teenage boys were kidnapped in the West Bank, an increase of rocket fire began from Gaza: 200 rockets in the span of a few weeks were launched at southern Israel. Since July 8, 2014, and the beginning of Operation Protective Edge, more than 500 rockets have been fired from the Gaza Strip toward major Israeli population centers. Below are several articles we recommend you read to help you understand the current situation in Israel, followed by a number of guided questions to assist in facilitating discussion.
- Pre-Operation Analysis: http://mobile.nytimes.com/2014/07/09/world/middleeast/israel-steps-up-offensive-against-hamas-in-gaza.html
"Late Tuesday, Hamas took responsibility for a new wave of up to 40 longer-range rockets, some of them intercepted over Tel Aviv and even Jerusalem, where sirens sounded around 10 p.m. There were no reports of injuries, but the barrage of rockets, one of which hit an open area in outer Jerusalem, put pressure on the Israeli government to respond with greater force."
- On the Kidnappings: http://www.washingtoninstitute.org/policy-analysis/view/hamass-not-so-secret-weapon
"For Hamas, kidnapping plots are especially attractive as a means of targeting Israel while undermining the political standing of the Palestinian Authority, especially when popular support for more spectacular operations like suicide bombings is low. Kidnappings are seen as uniquely legitimate within Palestinian society, which considers the tactic a valid way to press for the release of Palestinian militants imprisoned in Israeli jails. As a Hamas spokesman said 20 years ago when Hamas kidnapped another American-Israeli dual national, Nachshon Wachsman, "The kidnapping is not an end; it is a means for the release of all our prisoners." And whereas Palestinian Authority efforts to secure prisoners' release through negotiations have failed, Hamas officials maintain, kidnappings work. Indeed, Israel has released many jailed militants -- many convicted of heinous crimes -- for kidnapped Israelis such as Gilad Shalit and even for the bodies of dead Israelis held by groups such as Hamas or Hezbollah."
- On Hamas’s Motivations: http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/hamas-out-of-money-big-supporters-supplies-so-why-is-it-shooting-at-israel-1.2701140?cmp=rss
"Now, Hamas and Islamic Jihad, among others, are capable of launching rockets that experts say can travel up to 120 kilometres, much farther north of Tel Aviv."
- On the Attitude of the United States:: http://www.timesofisrael.com/lecturing-us-on-security-as-the-rockets-fly-in/
“Why does Gordon’s championing of these security arrangements — presented as a veritable panacea that we foolish Israelis have pigheadedly spurned — sound so particularly risible? Because he was speaking soon after the very conference he was addressing in the David Intercontinental Hotel had been forced to shut down temporarily, its participants evacuated to a safer floor of the hotel.”
- On Israel’s Precautions in Gaza: http://www.timesofisrael.com/lecturing-us-on-security-as-the-rockets-fly-in/
“By the standards of war, Israel’s efforts to spare civilians have been exemplary.”
- On the Failed Peace Negotiations: http://www.tabletmag.com/jewish-news-and-politics/178328/kerry-middle-east-violence
“So, how did we get here? Who is to blame? From one perspective, what we’re watching is the latest round in a nearly century-long cycle of Arab-Israeli violence, so it’s hardly surprising to see violence erupt once again. However, it’s also worth noting that it is precisely because peace is so rare in the Holy Land that the status quo needs to be given its space and left alone. Or you need to have a very good reason for disturbing it.”
In order to facilitate positive dialogue during this period of increased violence, here are five questions to start a conversation:
1. How would another government respond to this sort of threat to the majority of its people? How would the United States react?
2. What alternatives does Israel possibly have to increased military action, if any?
3. Some have suggested that Israel should negotiate with Hamas. What do you think of this proposition? What would it accomplish? What would be the potential benefits and pitfalls?
Comment: Hamas is recognized by the United States, the United Nations, and the European Union as a terrorist organization. The Hamas charter calls for the destruction of Israel.
4. When, if ever, is there a point when a government can no longer avoid using force to defend its citizens?
Comment: Since the end of the last Israeli military operation in November 2012, there has been continuous rocket fire from Gaza into the south of Israel. Rockets typically fall into open areas, but the sirens disrupt daily life as well as have long term psychological effects on the residents of these targeted areas.
(Image Source - http://www.idfblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/Map-Amlach-new-EN1.jpg (The picture shows the danger to Israeli civilians posed by the artillery of Gaza’s militants.)