Tom Craig’s impassioned letter [“Will We Reap What Israel Sows?,” Jan. 21] expresses the horror felt by all compassionate beings at the devastation of large parts of Gaza City. Who does not cringe at the sight of a blasted baby, a grieving mother, shocked and homeless children? Having built a civilian shield and reaped international publicity for its cause, perhaps Hamas does not.
From both Al Jazeera.com and Haaretz.com, certain [information] emerged during the Gaza attack: Hamas deliberately sheltered [themselves] among civilians and hid arms caches in mosques, schools and hospitals. Both Arab and Israeli media reported stories of Palestinians [forcing] Hamas rocket teams out of their apartment complexes to avoid the inevitable Israeli return fire.
Israel employed “roof knockers”—missile duds—to drive civilians off roofs of targeted buildings, and placed cell-phone calls to residents to warn of imminent bombings. This is not to say Israel is blameless in the deaths of civilians, but responding to months of continual rocket attacks on its cities is warfare, and innocent people die in wars. I doubt any nation on Earth would have held fire so long or have made such an effort to avoid those casualties.
Although popularly elected, Hamas seized absolute power in a bloody struggle that drove the Palestinian Authority to the West Bank. And instead of building an economic base for the benefit of the Palestinians in Gaza and negotiating a detente with Israel, Hamas undertook a suicidal terrorist war, attacking Israel’s civilian population with Iranian rockets—thus making the people of Gaza dependent on international charity. Before condemning Israel for the border closures, consider the deadly traffic pouring into Gaza through underground tunnels.
Finally, while I stand with Tom Craig in feeling sick at the pain and suffering of innocents, to claim the horrific images of the Gaza bombings have any equivalency to the Warsaw Ghetto uprising is demagogically twisted. The 400,000 Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto, reduced to 60,000 through daily deportations to concentration camps, were not firing rockets into Nazi-occupied Poland. They were civilians, targeted to be transported and killed simply because they were Jews. After the major uprising in April/May 1943, all were killed or transported to Treblinka. Every building was bombed or burned. Polish Jews weren’t collateral damage; they were the target.
` Craig is right about one thing: Israel’s military response undoubtedly breeds the desire for revenge. Ehud Barak, Israel’s defense minister and former prime minister, said if he were a Palestinian, he would likely be a terrorist. But in face of implacable hatred and a religious fundamentalism that embraces a culture of death and martyrdom, Israel’s military response—with its associated massive destruction of bridges, city buildings, power plants, roads and other infrastructure—should at least curb the appetite and capacity for terrorist adventures until diplomats and negotiators get a chance to try once again. There is no other option than peace in the Middle East.
— Gene Senyak