Monday, November 19, 2012

Condemnation of Hamas terror? Where?

Arsen Ostrovsky..
The Australian..
19 November '12..

I'M angry. You see, as Australians are going about their daily routines, in Israel more than one million people are in bomb shelters, seeking cover from a hail of rockets being rained down by Palestinian terrorists in Gaza.

A further 3 1/2 million live directly in the line of fire.

During the past four days, at least 700 rockets have fired from the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip on Israel, including Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. That's almost eight rockets an hour. Three Israelis have already been killed and dozens more have been hurt, many of them seriously.

I write this article, knowing that any given moment, I may be forced to run for shelter. Fifteen seconds are how much time we have to find safety. Fifteen seconds.

Just to put things in context: 4.5 million Israelis live directly within the line of Hamas fire. That is more than half the population here. In Australian terms that's about the entire population of Sydney or Melbourne.

This year alone, at least 1500 rockets have now been fired on Israel from Gaza, with about 12,000 fired in the past 12 years. There is just no end in sight.

In response to this incessant terror, last week Israel began Operation Pillar of Defence, starting with the elimination of Ahmed Jabari, one of the leaders of Hamas. Jabari was an arch-terrorist directly responsible for planning, orchestrating and personally ordering countless terrorist bombings, rocket attacks and suicide operations, which resulted in the deaths of hundreds of innocent Israelis.

But here is why I'm angry.

I'm angry that the world notices only when Israel undertakes its most basic sovereign right to defend its citizens. Can you imagine if even one rocket were fired on Washington, London, Moscow or Sydney? No nation on earth can, or should, tolerate such attacks on its people.

I'm angry that while the UN never hesitates to pass the umpteenth resolution blindly condemning Israel, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon was unable to unequivocally condemn the Palestinian rocket attacks without implying a moral equivalence between Israel taking defensive action against the terror attacks and Hamas deliberately targeting innocent civilians.

And now, the UN General Assembly is getting ready to vote on upgrading the Palestinians' status at the UN later this month. Perhaps it ought to be asking itself the following question instead: what kind of Palestinian entity is it voting for - one that seeks peace with Israel or one that indiscriminately fires rocket after rocket at millions of innocent civilians?

I'm angry that there are those who continue to call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against the Jewish State, such as those in the Greens Party, but are silent in the face of Palestinian terror.

I'm angry that ships and flotillas continue to set sail for Gaza to show "solidarity" with the Palestinians but ask where is their solidarity with the people of southern Israel?

I'm angry that while human rights organisations such as Amnesty, Human Rights Watch, Oxfam and others do not waste a single opportunity to condemn Israel for human rights violations against the Palestinians, the human rights of Israelis are seemingly not important enough for them. Is Jewish blood really that cheap?

I'm angry that mainstream newspapers such as The Sydney Morning Herald, lead their stories about the rocket attacks with such headlines as "Israel warns it will intensify conflict after Gaza strikes", and not "Terrorists in Gaza intensify conflict after raining down 700 rockets in four days against 4.5 million Israelis".

I'm even angrier that some news agencies choose not to cover this story at all or bury it down with the weather section.

I'm angry that so many people are blind to the fact that Iran, which has called for Israel to be wiped off the map and now seeks to obtain nuclear weapons, is the primary funder and supplier of arms to Hamas.

I'm angry when people continue to say that "settlements" are the main impediment to peace, and not Hamas, a terrorist group that does not recognise Israel's right to exist and seeks its destruction. I'm angry that schools in southern Israel have now been closed for an entire week because of the rocket attacks, while countless children have barely known a day of peace in their lives, running from one bomb shelter to another. What sort of inhumane way is this for a child to grow up?

I'm angry that there is someone out there who does not know me and has never met me, yet still wants to kill me - for no other reason than being Israeli.

I'm angry when I hear residents in southern Israel, such as Moshik Levy, say "every time my (three-year-old) son hears a 'Code Red' (rocket signal) it takes years off my life" or another resident who earlier remarked "we just lie on top of our children and try to protect them with our bodies."

Yet the world seems oblivious to their desperate cries for help.

In the course of writing this article, I have had to run - twice - for bomb shelter.

All I want is to just live in peace, free from rockets. No, I am not angry. I am outraged.


Arsen Ostrovsky is an international human rights lawyer who grew up in Australia and lives in Israel.

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