By Nadav Goren, Deputy Head of Mission, Embassy of Israel in Nigeria.
Between the 4th and 5th of May 2019, Israelis living in the south of the country woke up to yet another bombardment of rockets from Gaza; the Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Hamas terrorist groups propelled over 600 rockets and mortars at Israelis from Gaza. They have killed three Israeli civilians, including Moshe Agadi, a father of four, wounded dozens, and shattered the lives of so many loved ones. The rockets were intentionally directed at civilian centers and have struck Israeli roads, homes, a factory, and even a kindergarten and a hospital in the city of Ashkelon. Schools were shut throughout the south as children continued to run for shelter amid explosions.
For the last thirty-six hours, the Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) terror organizations, which ruthlessly control the Gaza Strip, have fired over 600 rockets (true to Sunday, 16:30pm Israel time) from the Gaza Strip at Israeli communities. These terror organizations continue launching rockets with the aim to kill Israeli civilians while firing them from the heart of Gaza’s population and using the local Gazan people as human shields – ensuring that every rocket fired constitutes a double war crime.
Israel has not had a presence in the Gaza Strip since 2005, and since a bloody coup in 2007, the Hamas terror organization has ruled the Gazan population with an iron fist. The people of Gaza are being held captive under the murderous regime of Hamas and PIJ, and deserve to live without a terrorist dictatorship. Since its violent takeover of the Gaza Strip from the Palestinian Authority in 2007, Hamas has launched upwards of 12,000 rockets and mortars into Israel. For years, Hamas has been building up its military capacities, using funds intended for Gaza’s civilians and racketeering the local economy to increase its weapons stockpiles and build cross-border attack tunnels.
Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip with an iron fist, is committing a double crime against humanity. It is indiscriminately attacking Israeli civilians while hiding and operating from within Gaza’s population – thus using Gazans as human shields. When Hamas strikes Israel, it is striking Gaza. The fact that Hamas routinely stores weapons and fires from within civilian neighborhoods shows Hamas’ utter disregard for human life and its willingness – indeed, intention – to endanger Gazans. When a Hamas rocket, aimed at Israel, misfired – it tragically killed a Gazan woman and child, Falasteen Abu Arar and Saba Mahmoud.
Israel will soon be celebrating its 71st independence day. For nearly three quarters of century, the State of Israel has been forced to contend with one threat after another. Despite the ongoing threats, Israel has prospered; not only has it grown from a poor to a developed nation in the span of a few short decades, it has become a global powerhouse of innovation. It has also continuously sought peace, indeed achieving peace with its neighbors Egypt and Jordan. Israel yearns for the day in which peace too will be established with its Palestinian neighbors.
And as the State of Israel continues to strive for a peaceful co-existence with its neighbors, it will not forget hundreds of thousands of Israeli youth huddled in chilling bomb shelters and prepared to remain there. The ceaseless rocket fire from the Gaza Strip is robbing innocent Israeli and Gazan youth of their innocence – preventing students from going to school, participating in sports activities, and leading normal lives.
Nigerians can relate to the ongoing battle with insurgency in the Gaza strip; the North Eastern part of Nigeria has been terrorized by Boko Haram which has killed thousands and displaced millions of civilians who once lived in peace in their communities. Israel, like Nigeria will continue to protect the lives and properties of its citizens, like any democratic nation would.