Like the Gaza Strip, the English language is a study in contrasts. Many of the words found in its vocabulary are common and uninspiring. Some, on the other hand, resonate with energy. They are electric, they are shocking and they are powerful. “Genocide” is one such word.
Genocide is nothing less than the deliberate, unequivocal slaughter, en masse, of a large group of people based on ethnic, tribal, religious, or national differences. It it brutal and it is horrifying.
This was the word used by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to describe the events in the Gaza Strip this summer. This was the word used by Abbas to slander the state of Israel, to malign it in the eyes of the world, and to incite hatred instead of inspire peace. This allegation is a lie that has raced around the world, and it must be stopped.
Abbas is an expert when it comes to combining fiction and ethnic cleansing. In his doctoral dissertation, he rejected the fact that the Nazis murdered millions of Jews in the Holocaust. Not only did he claim that the numbers had been inflated, he also accused the “Zionist movement” of colluding with the Third Reich. In essence, he blamed the Jews for their own extermination.
The Palestinian president has done far more than espouse anti-Semitic beliefs. He has partnered with Hamas, an organization based in the Gaza Strip that has been recognized by several states and groups as a terrorist entity.
The U.S., the EU, Jordan and Egypt have all denounced Hamas. This is the terrorist group that has continued to bombard Israel for nearly a decade with rockets and missiles like the ones pictures above. These were the indiscriminate attacks on civilians that forced Israel into defending itself over the summer.
Israel’s Operation Protective Edge was a campaign of self-defense against Islamic militants. Hamas terrorists call for the mass murder of Jews around the world. They view themselves as part of a universal movement struggling to conquer and control the followers of other religions by bringing them under the “wing of Islam.”
During the latest wave of attacks against the Jewish state, Hamas blatantly launched missiles from civilian areas in the Gaza Strip. Its fighters hid behind human shields and stored munitions in schools. They broke numerous cease fires and launched thousands of rockets into Israel. They did so in the hope of killing civilians, and sadly they succeeded.
Israel fought to protect its people. As it has said on several occasions, Israel regrets the loss of any and all civilian life in the Gaza Strip. Hamas has yet to make a similar statement. It, and not the Jewish state, is the one to blame for the deaths in this conflict.
Hamas celebrates death more than it values life. Its leaders in the Gaza Strip teach their children to embrace martyrdom and then cower behind them. This is an environment that hates peace and promotes jihad.
These terrorists revel in the deaths of their own people. Hamas publishes manuals explaining how to manipulate “the presence of civilians” in order to win victories, both on the battlefield and in the media. When they cannot win they lie about it. They fabricate numbers and claim that their fighters were bystanders instead of aggressors.
Increasing the number of civilian casualties gives Hamas a strategic edge, and so it remorselessly causes their deaths. To Hamas, victims and survivors are not people; they are public relations tools.
The Israeli Defense Forces did everything that they could to minimize the number of civilian casualties in the Gaza Strip. They called and texted Palestinians in order to inform them about upcoming strikes. They dropped leaflets and broadcast messages on television urging people to leave the targeted areas. Hamas forced them to stay in the line of fire.
Israel continued to send in tons of humanitarian aid, even as rockets rained down on its citizens. It established a field hospital on the border, and treated wounded Palestinians. The people at this facility fought to save lives, regardless of their nationality.
This is not genocide. Those that use this term are pursuing, deliberately or otherwise, a campaign of incitement. This libel maligns Israel, debases the memory of those killed by genocidal regimes and belittles the struggle of those currently facing the threat of ethnic cleansing. Abbas’s statements signaled his disregard for the facts, and perpetuated his efforts to spurn any attempt at peace-making.
The most recent round of violence between Israel and Hamas was not genocide. It was another example of the ways in which Palestinian terrorists in the Gaza Strip are slowly murdering their own people. Once again, the Palestinians have been failed by their own leadership.
Opinion by Yitzchak Besser
Photo from Israel Defense Forces