Hamas is a terrorist organization (recognized as such by the EU, US
and other democracies) with the declared goal of destroying Israel. In
2007, Hamas violently seized control of the Gaza Strip and transformed
it into a terror fortress
Between 12 June and 7 July, Hamas and
other terrorist organizations in the Gaza Strip fired approximately 300
rockets at Israeli civilians. Although Israel showed great restraint and
called for the cessation of the rocket attacks, Hamas kept firing
indiscriminately at Israeli towns and cities. No country in the world
would accept such a reality and Israel is no exception.
three weeks of restraint in the face of incessant rocket attacks, Israel
was left with no alternative but to respond in order to protect its
civilian population and restore calm to southern Israel.
Israel has been acting in self-defense
- Does Israel have a legal right to respond to Hamas' attacks?
in response to hostilities initiated and prolonged by Hamas. Indeed,
Israel's right to self-defense has been stressed time and again by
numerous world leaders, including US President Barack Obama, British
Prime Minister David Cameron, and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.
- What is Israel's objective?
The main objective of Operation Protective Edge is to provide the
sustained peace and security the citizens of Israel deserve. Israel
cannot accept a reality in which millions of its civilians are subject
to the whims of a radical Islamist terrorist organization and live under
constant threat, with as little as 15 seconds to find shelter from
Similarly, Israel cannot tolerate the existence
of cross-border attack tunnels which could be used at will by
terrorists in Gaza to infiltrate Israeli territory in order to murder
and kidnap Israeli citizens.
- What are the objectives of Hamas?
According to Hamas' ideology
Israel has no place in the world and Hamas' declared goal is the
destruction of the Jewish state. This is stated in the organization's
covenant: "Hamas strives to raise the banner of Allah over every inch of
Palestine" [meaning all of Israel, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip].
In addition, the organization promotes an antisemitic ideology that
glorifies jihad [holy war] and the killing of Jews.
similar to other extreme Islamist movements like al-Qaeda, ISIS and Boko
Haram in its total intolerance of the presence of non-Muslims in the
Middle East. Therefore, it is no surprise that Hamas maintains close
operational ties with radical Islamist terrorists in Sinai, including
for weapons smuggling, and that it is getting weapons and support from
- Why is Hamas shooting rockets at Israeli towns?
By firing rockets at densely populated areas in Israel, Hamas
terrorists are attempting to cause as many civilian deaths as possible.
Hamas' indiscriminate rocket fire is consistent with its ideology, which
sees Israeli civilian casualties as military successes.
of its commitment to the annihilation of Israel, Hamas views every
Israeli man, woman and child as a legitimate target of its terrorist
attacks by rockets, suicide bombings, murder and abductions.
Hamas' tactic of firing rockets at Israeli civilian communities did not end when Israel left Gaza completely in 2005
, but rather intensified
In recent years, the Hamas terrorist organization invested heavily in
offensive weapons, bringing the number of rockets aimed at Israeli towns
to around 12,000.
- Why have civilians in Gaza been hurt?
The civilian casualties in Gaza are a direct result of the Hamas tactic of using the Palestinian civilian population as human shields
for its terrorist activities. The placing of rockets, rocket launching
pads, weapons caches and tunnel openings in private homes, UNRWA
schools, hospitals and mosques has been well documented, including by foreign correspondents reporting from Gaza
Attacks on Israeli soldiers have also been deliberately launched from
within or next to civilian installations in order to draw return fire.
order to increase Palestinian casualties, Hamas' Ministry of the
Interior has instructed the residents of Gaza not to heed Israel's
warnings about impending attacks. Hamas also urges residents to actively form human shields
, thus deliberately exposing them to grave danger.
Hamas is in fact committing a double war crime
by deliberately targeting Israeli civilians while at the same time
embedding its weapons, leaders, operatives and infrastructures in the
midst of non-involved Palestinian civilians. Hamas bears full responsibility for the civilian casualties in the Gaza Strip.
Shuja'iya comparison: IDF target map and UN map
the same time, the data on casualties is usually based on information
supplied by the Hamas-controlled Ministry of Health in Gaza and must be
taken with more than a grain of salt. Independent experts who analyzed the data
including a senior BBC expert statistician, have questioned whether the
unusually high proportion of men of fighting age among the reported
civilian casualties indicates that they were in fact active terrorists.
Israel has done its utmost to reduce to a minimum the harm caused to non-involved civilians in Gaza.
- What measures has Israel taken to minimize civilian casualties in Gaza?
It has done so by employing stringent target selection procedures, by warning residents about impending strikes
using phone calls, text messages and leaflets, and by firing warning shots. Flyer distributed by the IDF to warn the civilian population of Shuja'iya before an operation
has gone to these unprecedented lengths despite significant tactical
costs, foregoing operational opportunities and refraining from attacking
known terrorist hideouts and weapons caches located in dangerous
proximity to civilians.
In this type of asymmetrical
confrontation that pits a democratic country like Israel against a
murderous terrorist organization like Hamas that embeds itself among the
civilian population, there are many operational dilemmas that arise.
This is why Israel has been extremely careful to act within the limits
of international law and the democratic values by which it is bound.
64 Israeli soldiers lost their lives
- Why have there been fewer Israeli civilians casualties?
since 8 July in a military operation aimed at saving Israeli civilians
from the rocket threat. Even so, three civilians were killed in rocket
and mortar attacks.
The primary reason for the lower number of
Israeli casualties despite approximately 3,500 rocket attacks is
Israel's defensive measures. Israel has invested huge resources in
establishing a two-fold system to protect its citizens against rocket
1. Israel developed the Iron Dome missile defense
system, which throughout this confrontation has provided outstanding
protection to Israeli civilians, saving the lives of countless Israeli
2. Israel constructed a vast infrastructure of
shelters and set up an early warning system enabling its civilians to
find quick cover when terrorists launch their rockets.
not for the effective deployment of Iron Dome and the shelters, the
number of Israeli civilian casualties in this conflict would be very
- Is there a siege on Gaza?
There is no Israeli "siege" on the Gaza Strip. For four years, all
goods - except for weapons and dual-use items which could be used by
terrorists - have been allowed into the Gaza Strip. Not only food,
medicine, fuel and aid enter freely, but also consumer goods of all
types are transferred daily from Israel to Gaza through the land crossings
Gaza shares a border with Egypt in addition to its borders with Israel.
It is Egypt, not Israel, which controls the Rafah border crossing in
the southern part of the Gaza Strip.
- What has Israel done to assist the civilian population of Gaza?
Israel has made tremendous efforts to enable the continued passage of goods and aid into Gaza despite the fighting
It facilitated the entry of approximately 2,000 truckloads carrying
some 40,000 tons of food, medical supplies and essential goods during a
month of fighting.
Israel kept the land crossings into Gaza
operating even as the terrorist organizations continuously attacked
them, including with more than a hundred rockets fired at the primary
crossing for goods, Kerem Shalom.
Humanitarian aid to Gaza
Copyright: IDF Spokesperson
also declared numerous humanitarian lulls in fighting to allow
civilians in Gaza to shop for supplies, receive humanitarian aid and
move to safer areas. Although these humanitarian ceasefires were
declared for the benefit of the residents of Gaza, Hamas violated every one
- Why has it been so difficult to reach a ceasefire?
The main reason it is so difficult to bring an end to the
hostilities is Hamas' lack of motivation to do so. Up to now Hamas has
seen that much of the international community does not hold it
accountable for its violations of basic morality and of international
Hamas has put forward a list of unrealistic demands and uses
them as an excuse to prolong its attacks on Israel. In the meantime, it
is the civilians on both sides who bear the brunt of Hamas’
Time and again Hamas rejected offers of a ceasefire. Each time Israel declared a humanitarian truce, aimed at benefiting Gaza's civilians, Hamas broke it
and resumed its rocket attacks and attempted kidnappings of soldiers.
throughout the attempts to de-escalate the situation, Hamas leaders and
spokesmen repeated their threats to continue targeting Israeli towns.
Hamas' lack of goodwill was demonstrated when a minute before the entry
into force of the 72-hour ceasefire of 10 August it launched a
long-range missile towards Tel-Aviv (and then bragged about it).
- Why is it important to demilitarize the Gaza Strip?
Although Hamas has been firing its missiles against Israeli
civilians for years, the recent confrontation revealed the full extent
of the terror infrastructure in the Gaza Strip. Hamas has acquired or
produced a huge arsenal of rockets with varying ranges, anti-tank
rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs), large amounts of explosives, offensive terror tunnels
and a great number of light weapons.
order to prevent the terrorist organizations in Gaza from rearming with
even deadlier weapons, which will inevitably result in renewed
hostilities, the Gaza Strip must be demilitarized.
This fact received strong support from both the United States and the European Union. In their decision of 22 July, EU foreign ministers stated clearly that "all terrorist groups in Gaza must disarm."
- Why is it crucial to control goods entering Gaza?
The vast terror infrastructure which developed in Gaza in recent
years became possible only through the misuse of funds and raw materials
that entered the Gaza Strip intended for civilian use. This has made
abundantly clear the need to oversee the proper use of resources brought
into the Gaza Strip so that they will not be channeled for military
The extent of Gaza's terror infrastructure confirmed
Israel's intelligence assessments and vindicated its calls for
tightening controls over the import of dual-use goods such as concrete
and other building materials which were used to construct terror tunnels
This is the reason why, paradoxically, the
only way to increase the flow of goods into Gaza is by tightening
control over what goes in. Better mechanisms have to be put in place to
ensure that the ability of the terrorist organizations in Gaza to rearm
themselves is curtailed, and that building materials going into Gaza do
not end up being used for the construction of attack tunnels and rocket
- Are the current hostilities part of a cycle of violence?
One could be tempted to view this confrontation as the latest round
in an imagined "cycle of violence". However, nothing could be further
from the truth since there is no symmetry between Israel and Hamas.Israel left the Gaza Strip completely in 2005
and has no claims on the territory besides the wish to see it develop
as a peaceful and prosperous neighbor. If Hamas and the other terrorist
organizations disarmed and stopped their attacks, Israel would have no
reason to respond.
Yet instead of developing the Gaza Strip, the
Hamas regime has turned it into a terror fortress and established a
fundamentalist dictatorship whose declared goal is the destruction of