Recent writings on these pages vilify Israel’s actions in the face of repeated rocket attacks by Hamas from Gaza (“Maine Voices: Jewish Mainers oppose U.S. funded oppression of Palestinians in Israel” Aug. 21). The writers focus on the number of deaths of Gazan civilians.

In fact, media sources regularly base fatality statistics on reports that originate from Hamas, and these reports are highly suspect. Time and again, reports of civilian casualties have been repudiated. The majority of deaths reported in Gaza are among younger men, and therefore numerous analyses suggest that most of the deaths are those of Hamas combatants, not civilians. (See “Caution Needed with Gaza Casualty Figures,” BBC News, Aug. 11).

Observers compare the number of Gazan deaths to the number of Israeli deaths. However, Israel is defending its citizens, rather than placing them directly in the line of fire as Hamas does.

As Prime Minister Netanyahu has stated, “Israel deeply regrets every civilian casualty. Every single one. We do not target them. We do not seek them. The people of Gaza are not our enemy. Our enemy is Hamas. Our enem[ies] are the other terrorist organizations trying to kill our people. And we’ve taken extraordinary circumstances and measures to avoid civilian casualties.”

The Hamas charter, in no uncertain terms, calls for the absolute destruction of the state of Israel (www.cfr.org, Aug. 14) and that is their goal. Since the 2005 Israeli withdrawal from Gaza, Hamas wrested control of the territory from the Palestinian Authority, killed hundreds of its own people, and has since used international humanitarian aid to build tunnels and other weapon depots to attack Israel. Gazans are victims of their own leadership.

For a detailed list of Jewish Mainers who signed this article, please visit www.mainejewish.org.