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Hamas needs to stop firing rockets at Israel

Suddenly the media are talking about rockets in Gaza. However, they have said very little about the rocket attacks that have been a part of life in southern Israel since Hamas took over Gaza five years ago. During that time Hamas, recognized as a terrorist organization by the United States and the European Union, has been firing thousands of rockets into civilian, not military, areas – areas that have been an integral part of Israel since 1948.

Houses, schools and public buildings have bomb shelters, and people have 15 seconds to reach a shelter after they hear the sirens announcing yet another rocket attack. Homes have been hit, people have been wounded and killed. This has been going on so long that it almost seems “normal.” It is not normal.

In recent weeks, Hamas has increased the attacks. Israel has showed amazing restraint. The current military campaign is not a “tit for tat” game. It is not another chapter in an endless “cycle of violence.” It is the Israeli government doing what any government must do – protecting its people.

Gaza is not “occupied.” Israel voluntarily removed its troops and the entire Jewish population of Gaza before Hamas took over. There could have been peace – until Hamas began its unprovoked rocket attacks on its neighbor. Israel’s complaints to the United Nations have been ignored, and the press seems interested only now, when the Israelis finally retaliate to protect their citizens and Palestinians are killed. The current Israeli attacks are aimed at rocket launchers and other military targets, not civilians. The Israelis do all that they can to warn civilians to leave target areas. Unfortunately, there are still civilian casualties – often because rocket launchers are deliberately placed in civilian areas, near schools and hospitals. Using civilians as a shield, as Hamas does, is a war crime.

Maxine S. Seller

Buffalo