Written by Daniel O’Dowd, a CAMERA Fellow Alumnus
When Nicolay Mlandenov – the UN’s special coordinator for the Middle East peace process – said that “the core of the crisis in Gaza is political”, he was right. The Hamas terrorist group has subjected Gazans to lives of immense suffering. Months after Israel’s complete withdrawal from Gaza in 2005, Hamas won a majority of seats in their legislative elections after promising to continue the armed struggle against Israel.
Unsurprisingly, both Israel and Egypt soon imposed a military blockade on Gaza following Hamas’ bloody coup – seizing government institutions and replacing Fatah/PA officials with Hamas loyalists.
Waves of terrorism – mostly in the form of rocket attacks – against Israeli civilian communities ensued.
All of which Yaser Alashqar, Lecturer in Conflict Studies and Middle East Politics, Trinity College Dublin, fails to mention in his Yahoo News UK op-ed titled “Life under the continuing Israeli blockade”.
Context and critical thought are prerequisites to academic integrity – neither of which feature in this article portraying the crisis in Gaza as one solely of Israeli making.
For example, Alashqar states:
“They [Gazans] have been subjected to brutal military assaults since 2008, in the context of the Israeli policy of “mowing the lawn”, military attacks and bombardment which indiscriminately kill civilians and cause massive levels of damage to civilian infrastructure in Gaza. This Israeli campaign continues under the pretext of undermining the military power of Hamas, the Palestinian political armed movement which runs Gaza.”
First of all, Israel has only engaged with Gaza from a point of self-defence with maximum regard for civilian safety, and the IDF has been called the “most ethical army in the world” by several respected military experts.
Let’s also remember that the sole purpose of Hamas is the destruction of Israel – as laid out in the their founding charter. In May of this year alone, over 700 rockets were launched from Gaza into Israel, driving much of the nation into bomb shelters in search of safety. Israel’s response? To rely on the Iron Dome Defense System, and to target the source of the rockets with utmost regard for innocent civilians.
Indeed, Alashqar criticises the means in which Israel defends itself:
“[t]he movement of Israeli military airplanes, the sound of invisible drones and night explosions are a major source of stress, fear and anxiety.”
But, what about the chronic fear of Israelis who live in communities bordering Gaza who receive no media coverage and have had their kindergartens, schools, hospitals and homes targeted by Hamas? If Gazans hadn’t embraced the terrorism of Hamas, they’d be able to live in peace.
Seeking to deflect from Gazan’s moral deficiency and Hamas terrorism, Alashqar bemoans the coverage of these rocket attacks, arguing that we should instead look at the fact that “since March 2018, large numbers of people in Gaza have protested peacefully every Friday in ‘March of Return’ demonstrations at the Gaza-Israel border.”
However, it’s absurd to characterise as “peaceful protests” violent rioting, and the use of Molotov cocktails, projectiles, human shields and promises to slaughter Israelis. The ‘March of Return’ façade is little more than a PR ploy to solicit empathy for Gazans, and give Hamas another opportunity to strike at Israel. Alashqar’s claim is disingenuous, and lionizes Gazans involved to further the Hamas narrative. Bona fide academics don’t perpetuate such blatant propaganda.
Mr Alashqar then turns to the plight of Gazans in terms of poverty and unemployment. A chronic dependency on UNWRA aid has allowed Hamas to focus solely on destroying Israel, devoting millions in international aid on rockets and terror tunnels, instead of jobs, infrastructure projects and medical care.
Alashqar then even blames the Israeli blockade for increases in domestic violence in Gaza, demonstrating the lengths to which he’s prepared to go to demonise the Jewish state. Can we ask, is the criminalisation of homosexuality (previously punishable by the death penalty), and the widespread mistreatment of women in Gaza, also Israel’s fault?
STALEMATE and HOPE
Of course, we couldn’t have an anti-Israel article without it all boiling down to the pseudo-occupation. Notwithstanding that Israel has had no presence in Gaza in 2005, Alashqar still attributes Gaza’s woes to an Israel “occupation” of Gaza…
Alashqar’s article was written with the sole objective of vilifying Israel by amplifying Hamas talking points. Every action or hardship is Israel’s fault no matter what the truth states. Mr Alashqar – alongside so many others – can continue to blame Israel and indemnify Gazans, but this only serves to make peace an ever more distant dream for both Israelis and Palestinians.