Letter to the Editor: Israel actions in Palestine justified, reasonable

Editorials featured in the Forum section are solely the opinions of their individual authors.

For those of you unaware, there has been a recent outbreak of violence between Palestinians and Israelis over false accusations from Palestinian leadership.

Namely, they have claimed that Muslims may not be the only ones allowed to pray at the Temple Mount in the future. In addition, the Oslo Accords, which set the ground for peace under former president Bill Clinton’s administration, were denounced by Mahmoud Abbas, the leader of the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank.

Furthermore, on Palestinian television, Abbas welcomed the spilled blood of Palestinians in Jerusalem as the blood of martyrs. An op-ed recently published by The Tartan, “America must not fund oppression of Palestine,” discusses the recent tensions and suggests that the terrorism being perpetrated is understandable given the plight of the Palestinian people.

The author also argues Israel’s response has been grossly disproportionate. But what can Israel do when four children, all fewer than 10 years old, witness the murder of their parents, or a father is murdered, and his wife and two-year-old child are attacked?

The only answer is to defend themselves as they have done for decades as the State of Israel, and for millennia as the Jewish People. Hamas, the internationally recognized terrorist group that controls the Gaza Strip, as well as Fatah, the political and militant party in charge of the West Bank, called for a “Day of Rage,” inciting Palestinians to attack innocent Jews on the street.

Palestinians committed arson at Joseph’s Tomb and a bus depot in Ramat Gan, a neighborhood of Tel Aviv where I used to work. A couple weeks ago, two Palestinians armed with a gun and a knife attacked a bus full of innocent Israelis, killing one and injuring several others, and a mother and her children were badly burned in a firebomb attack last week.

Despite this violence, Israel has practiced restraint in its response. There has been no incursion into the West Bank, no disruption of services or aid to the Gaza Strip or West Bank, no airstrikes, and no military action other than increased patrols in Jerusalem and other major cities. Yet there is still more terror, and more innocent blood spilled.

Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank indeed live under terrible conditions. But the attacks that are being planned and carried out will only make their conditions worse; innocent Palestinians will be placed in further danger due to the actions of the terrorists that live and plot among them. The only solution is a peaceful one.

When I lived and worked in Tel Aviv in the summer of 2014, Hamas launched hundreds of rockets and thousands of mortar shells toward major population areas and border towns of the Gaza Strip, including Tel Aviv.

Israel invested in counter-terrorist measures such as the Iron Dome missile defense system and bomb shelters that made me feel safe enough to stay in a country under attack. Israel invests its money, time, and resources into protecting everyone that lives within its borders.

Meanwhile, Hamas in the Gaza Strip and terrorist factions in the West Bank invest their money, time, and resources into attacking Israel while using United Nations schools, hospitals, and innocent civilians as shields. Israel will do everything it can, including aborting air strikes targeting terrorist leaders, to minimize collateral damage and prevent the loss of innocent lives.

If you truly want to support the Palestinians in their plight, then you cannot support the organizations that hurt the people they supposedly protect. Support the search for peace; engage in a peaceful conversation rather than a shouting match. Let us come together and see each other as humans, without hate, without prejudice, with a single goal of living together peacefully.

There is a passage in the Jerusalem Talmud: “Whoever destroys a soul, it is considered as if he destroyed an entire world. And whoever saves a life, it is considered as if he saved an entire world.” As Jews, we value the life of every person. Even if a person has so much hate in their heart that they seek to kill us, their life still matters. Israel trains its security forces to wound, and not to kill unless absolutely necessary.

Israel has shown great patience and restraint in dealing with constant threats of terrorism. It is a marvel that Israel is still willing to negotiate a peace agreement despite this. All we ask is that the other side is willing to come to the table where life is valued more than hate. I fear this may be in the very distant future, and until then, I shall mourn the needless loss of innocent Palestinians and Israelis thrown away in favor of hate.

I will continue to pray that there may be a peaceful solution, that Israelis and Palestinians can live together without fear, without hate, without violence, and finally live in peace.

Harrison Loomis
Mathematical Sciences