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Friday, October 24, 2014 | Last updated: 7:48pm

Guest Column: Israel firing in self defense, not attack



This column is a response to “Guest column: For youth of Gaza, tackle root causes of Israel conflict” submitted by Britain Eakin (Nov. 27).

What would a U.S. response be to a group in Sonora, Mexico that fired one rocket into southern Arizona? An even better question is what would our reactions be as U.S. citizens living in southern Arizona and what actions would we expect from our government?

I am fortunate enough, along with the rest of southern Arizona, to live in safety and comfort. However, I cannot say the same about the 1 million innocent Israelis who have lived under the constant threat of rockets raining down on their homes since the Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip in 2005.

Since the recent Operation Pillar of Defense, terrorist groups in Gaza expanded their rocket range to 3.5 million innocents, reaching the metropolitan cities of Tel Aviv and Jerusalem for the first time. Since 2001, there have been more than 12,000 rockets and mortars fired into Israel and in this year alone there have been more than 1,600 rockets, leaving six Israelis dead.

There are three reasons why the Israeli casualty count is so low compared to that of the 177 Palestinian deaths in the incursions this past week.

First, Israelis have been subjected to consistent rocket attacks for more than seven years and sadly have made it a successful routine to sprint to a shelter in under 15 seconds during a warning siren.

Second, with the help of the U.S., Israel has been able to deploy the Iron Dome batteries that have successfully stopped more than 400 rockets headed toward inhabited areas.

And last, operations like Cast Lead and Pillar of Defense inflicted preventative strikes on weapon stockpiles and manufacturing sites.

There are those that attempt to underplay the Israeli fatalities due to the significantly higher number of Palestinian deaths caused by the operation, without mentioning that more than two-thirds of the Palestinians killed were involved with terrorist activities.

There are claims that Israel’s response was disproportionate. They are right. If Israel were to have responded proportionately, it would have fired 1,600 rockets indiscriminately at Gazan civilians.

I adamantly challenge those that claim Israel was overly aggressive to explore what efforts the terrorist groups in Gaza put forth to limit innocent casualties, because they will find none.

The difference between Israel and the terror groups in Gaza is that Israel surgically aims for its targets. Israel does all it can to warn innocents by making phone calls, dropping leaflets and using sound bombs that warn before an attack is carried out on the terrorist groups that purposely hide near schools, mosques and hospitals.

The terrorist groups, on the other hand, aim for civilians, hoping to wreak havoc in the minds of Israelis, which unfortunately has paid off in southern towns like Sderot where more than 75 percent of the children suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder.

It should be no secret to those around the world that Israel would respond in the face of attacks on civilians from groups that refuse to accept its right to exist and call for its destruction. There should be no double standard toward Israel, because as an American citizen, I too would expect my government to protect me if even a single rocket were fired into southern Arizona.

— Joseph Bendah is a senior studying political science and Near Eastern studies. He can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu .


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