Letters to the Editor: (Response to “Enough about Sderot Already”, 3/7/08)Published: March 14, 2008
“[T]he Israelis are responsible for the vast majority of the violence in Israel and Palestine…. [O]nly Israelis have the power to end the conflict.” So concluded Jon Lange’s assessment of the Gaza situation (“Enough about Sderot Already”, 3/7/08).
Unfortunately, his attempted resolution of the Mideast Gordian knot rests on errors and bias. More critically, it demonstrates a profound misreading of the
conflict and its causes.
Lange is basically dismissive of the Qassam problem. The fatal homemade rocket mentioned was one of 50 Qassams fired that day, in addition to several Katyusha missiles striking Ashkelon, population 117,000. Dozens of people have lost limbs and homes to this barrage; for thousands more, daily life has been made unbearable. To date, 4500 Qassams have fallen on Sderot since the total Israeli pullout from Gaza in 2005. By any normal standards, this situation is outrageous. Yet Lange advocates that Israel continue a months-long policy of doing virtually nothing. In other words, he prescribes for Israel a death by pinpricks.
Lange accuses Israel of violating the rules of war. Yet he has nothing to say about the legality of Hamas?s assault on Sderot, which emanates from the unoccupied Gaza Strip and targets population centers in undisputable Israeli territory.
Contrary to his claim, the great majority (90) of the 100 Palestinians killed were not civilians, but combatants. There would be far fewer civilian casualties of Israel?s defensive operations, were it not for the Hamas tactic of firing from residential buildings and mosques (about the most egregious violation of jus inbello imaginable). There would be no civilian casualties of this conflict on either side, and no conflict, if Hamas and other violent Palestinian groups ceased their effort to destroy Israel and murder Israelis.
In 2006, Olmert was moving towards a withdrawal from the West Bank, along the lines of the Gaza pullout. The situation in Sderot tragically illustrates why Israel cannot extricate itself from the territories, even voluntarily. It is Hamas, not Israel, that perpetuates occupation.
– Aviv Luban ‘08