The state of affairs in Israel has escalated and intensified over the past several days. Since the morning of Nov. 14, more than 275 rockets targeting civilian residents and communities have been fired into Israel by Hamas and its terrorist allies in Gaza. Upwards of 4.5 million Israelis that currently live within Hamas’ rocket range have been forced into bomb shelters. Israel and Syria exchanged fire for the first time in three decades. This is perhaps one of the most precarious situations Israel has confronted since 1948.
On Nov. 15, the United States Senate unanimously passed a bipartisan resolution recognizing and supporting Israel’s “inherent right to self-defense in the face of terrorist attacks” while emphasizing the fact that “Hamas was founded with the stated goal of destroying the State of Israel.” Led by Senators Kristen Gillibrand and Mark Kirk, 66 senators successfully conveyed the message of their standing in solidarity with Israel while advocating for Israel’s right to defend herself. Co-sponsored by Representatives Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Howard Berman, the House passed an almost identical resolution by unanimous consent on Nov. 16. President Obama also held a press conference on the morning of Nov. 18 stating that “there’s no country on earth that would tolerate missiles raining down on its citizens from outside its borders … we are fully supportive of Israel’s right to defend itself.”
Israel’s recently deployed Iron Dome anti-rocket missile system, which the United States has helped fund, has provided some recent protection and minimized damage. It has successfully intercepted at least 100 incoming rockets that were headed toward populous Israeli cities within the first 24 hours of operation. As of Nov. 18, the Iron Dome has intercepted more than 265 rockets. Devoid of vital defensive measures like the Iron Dome, which has provided a significantly magnified level of security, Israeli civilian casualties would likely be far higher in numbers.
However, since Israel’s 2008 defensive Operation Cast Lead, Hamas has expanded the range and lethality of its rockets by importing advanced Iranian Fajr, Grad rockets and 120mm mortar bombs. In the past four years, Gaza’s rocket factories have also increased its weapons capabilities both in quality and proficiency. Moreover, terrorist organizations within Gaza have gained access to a substantive amount of highly sophisticated anti-tank and surface-to-air shoulder-launched missiles. All of these new advancements pose threats of a new height to the Israeli civilian population.
The act of self-defense is a right protected and preserved in Article 51 of the United Nations Charter. Israel’s military operation aims to quell more than 13,000 rocket attacks on Israeli citizens that have taken place since 2001. In accordance with international law, maintaining that a state must strive to minimize the number of casualties in its attempt to achieve military objectives, Israel uses pinpoint targeting to achieve its goals. Hamas, in contrast, regularly uses civilians as shields and protection of military targets. Furthermore, Article 28 of the Fourth Geneva Convention states, “the presence of a protected person may not be used to render certain points or areas immune from military operations.”
As stated by Israel’s Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, “If Palestine were to lay down their guns tomorrow, there would be no war. If Israel were to lay down theirs, there would be no Israel.” The recent attacks validate the deep-rooted need for a strong U.S.-Israel relationship. We, student leaders of the pro-Israel community, support Israel’s fight against terrorism. We stand for her right to defend herself.
Danielle Dankner is a third-year political science and English double major.