I was watching Fox News correspondent Dana Lewis reporting live from the Gaza Strip today. As Lewis reported, young Palestinian children gleefully played in the streets behind him, while only a few blocks away, Hamas militants fought a running gun battle with Israeli troops.
Lewis reported that 50 Israeli tanks had rolled into northern Gaza early on Wednesday and that Israeli aircraft and artillery had fired on Palestinian militants, killing 14 persons, including a young girl.
Fox News online reports that “Eight of the 14 persons killed were suspected militants, including five from Hamas and three from Islamic Jihad.” Unfortunately this means that six of those killed were Palestinian civilians.
“This is a horrible situation, and we urge the international community to notice the continuing Israeli escalation in Gaza immediately,” Palestinian lawmaker Saeb Erekat said. “I’m afraid these numbers are going to multiply if we continue to be the forgotten zone in this region.”
As Lewis reported live, ambulances sped past in the background, on their way to the gun battle to retrieve the wounded. Or to rush armed militants to action, which is a typical Hamas and Hezbollah ploy. All the while, Palestinian families calmly sat on their front porches watching the excitement unfold and watching their children run toward the gunfire.
It is unfortunate that six Palestinian civilians were killed and scores wounded in the Israeli attack. It is also unfortunate that, as Mr. Erekat correctly predicts, “these numbers are going to multiply.” Past history shows that this will be the case. But who is at fault here? The Israelis or the Palestinians? Hamas or the Israel Defense Forces?
Before the international press and those sympathetic to the Palestinian cause, like Saeb Erekat, condemn Israel for the civilian deaths, a few important questions need to be asked.
Why were innocent civilians in harm’s way in the first place? The Israeli army dropped leaflets from helicopters and made phone calls to residents in Gaza warning them to leave their homes well before the attack began. But Palestinian families stayed, putting their children at risk. Why did they stay?
Could it be that some of the “innocent civilians” killed and wounded were not so innocent in the first place? Most rational people would ask, what kind of parents would allow their children to play in the streets in the middle of a war zone?
Maybe this kind:
“Father, I’m bored,” said 13-year-old Habeeb, walking into the kitchen of his Gaza home. “Can we go watch our Hamas brothers drive back the Israeli tanks and shoot Israeli soldiers?”
“Not now, Habeeb, can’t you see that I am busy? Don’t you have an essay to write for Innam Mohammad about the proper positioning of Improvised Explosive Devices?”
“Yes, Father, but I can write the essay later. Please, Father let’s go. You can make your anti-tank firebombs later. We are missing all the excitement! All my friends are already there. Can’t you hear the gunfire?”
“OK, Son, we can go, but only for a short time,” his father answered, putting down his bomb-making equipment. He picked up his AK-47 as he walked toward the front door. “We need to be home by 8:00 o’clock . Your mother needs help assembling her land mines.”
“Thanks, Father, May Allah bless you.” Habeeb said rushing toward the front door.
“Habeeb,” his father said, stopping his son. “Aren’t you forgetting something?”
“Oh, sorry, Father, I forgot.” Habeeb said over his shoulder, running back to his bedroom. “I almost forgot my rocks.”
His father looked at his son with pride but also admonished him: “How many times do I need to remind you, Habeeb? You can’t stand up to Israeli tanks without your rocks!”
“Sorry, Father. I will not forget next time.”
A majority of Palestinian parents in Gaza preach their hatred of Israel to their children as soon as they are old enough to understand the meaning of Islamic Jihad. The hate is then reinforced in schools by teachers and in mosques by religious leaders. The children grow up with perpetual hate flowing through their bloodstream. This hate is passed on to generation after generation of Palestinians.
Are Palestinian parents simply showing their defiance of Israel by letting their children die horrible deaths in the streets of Gaza ? Or are they showing their ignorance and their stupidity by letting this happen? I think they are showing a combination of all three elements. Unfortunately, their children are suffering because of this combination.
Why else would Palestinian parents allow their children to throw rocks at armed Israeli tanks?