November 28, 2012

Another View: Gaza column misrepresented Israel's history with neighbors

Hamas' attacks on civilians stand in contrast to Israel's attempts to minimize casualties.

By Jules Szanton

In his recent column (Maine Voices: “

Israel's victim image belies its drive to control, abuse Palestinians


Jules Szanton is a resident of Portland.

," Nov. 24), Robert Schaible makes a number of factual errors. Here are a few:

Gaza has not been under Israeli rule "ever since" the 1948 war. Egypt occupied Gaza from 1948 to 1967, and used the territory as a base to launch attacks on Israel. Since 2005, Gaza has been under Palestinian rule.

Hamas didn't "faithfully honor" its truce with Israel during 2008. A Dec. 19, 2008, New York Times article reports that "rockets from Gaza never stopped entirely during the truce," and cites dozens of rocket attacks on Israeli civilians during that time period.

Attacks on Israeli civilians living in "occupied Palestinian lands" aren't legal under international law. Protocol I of the Geneva Conventions prohibits combatants from directed attacks at civilians. Targeting Israeli civilians is Hamas' modus operandi.

Still, the real problem wasn't the facts Mr. Schaible made up, but the facts he left out. Like the fact that Israel – unlike Hamas – cares about minimizing Palestinian civilian casualties. During Israel's recent operation in the Gaza Strip, numerous Israeli bombing missions were called off after intelligence reported that too many Palestinian civilians would be hurt.

Mr. Schaible also could have discussed attempts to end the Israeli-Arab conflict permanently. Two recent Israeli governments have offered the Palestinians statehood in all of the Gaza Strip, and nearly all of the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Both times, the Palestinian Authority rejected the Israeli offers, and refused to make a public counteroffer.

The recent Middle East violence is tragic. Before we place all the blame on Israel, our only democratic ally in the region, it's worth exploring all the facts.

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