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Tuesday, June 25, 2024

So begins another chapter of the Middle East conflict.

Arguments on both sides continue with no answers. Who broke the cease-fire? What violence is in self-defense, and what is blatant aggression?

Israel has the right to defend its citizens from constant rocket fire and terrorism from Hamas, just as the Palestinian people need strong and progressive leadership to improve their situation. Unfortunately, they have found that hope in the wrong party. Their tactics, mimicking those used by Hezbollah in 2006, turned the entire region into a war zone. This ultimately subjected the Palestinians in Gaza to terrible conditions �" especially compared to the Palestinians in the West Bank.

The basic principle of the Hamas organization is the invalidation of Israel and its eventual destruction. Creating a cease-fire with Israel is incongruous with these basic beliefs, let alone working toward establishing a lasting peace. Conversely, Fatah, the more moderate Palestinian party in the West Bank, has begun talks with Israel to establish peace.

Hamas strategically places the locations of its strongholds and arsenals in hospitals, mosques and residential buildings. This despicable act creates a game of chicken with Israel to see who will act first. Will Israel attack strategic Hamas militant targets despite the potential of civilian casualties, or will Hamas continue its use of human shields despite putting fellow Palestinians in danger?

Comparing the Israeli and Palestinian casualties, it is unclear how many in Gaza were Hamas militants and how many were civilians in the wrong place at the wrong time. The number of civilian Palestinian casualties is troubling and heart-wrenching, especially considering they may have received little assistance and warning from their governing party. When these deaths are reported, the media often show videos of Israeli rockets shooting into civilian complexes, killing dozens of innocent people. What's left unreported is the intentional stockpile of Hamas' weapons hidden within the building, leaving few choices for Israel after repeated warnings to the residents.

The Israel Defense Forces use extensive intelligence before taking military action. Israel drops fliers and makes phone calls into the territories, warning Gazans of the danger that Hamas has put them in.

Meanwhile, Hamas continues to shoot rockets indiscriminately into southern Israel, giving Israelis no warning and putting the citizens of major cities in a state of constant fear and shock. The residents of Sderot have 15 seconds from the sound of the sirens to run into shelters and pray for safety. Firing these rockets isn't an innocent act of protest, but rather a deadly and destructive display of radicalism.

I urge you to read between the lines and understand the intentions and strategies used by both actors. Israel uses powerful force and extensive intelligence to remove the terrorist threat with the smallest civilian casualty margin.

My hopes are that the Palestinian people see the danger and destruction incurred under Hamas and that they choose a more legitimate and moderate path leading them toward a sustainable life and peace with their neighbors.

Jason Attermann is the president of the Jewish Student Union.

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