We are human. It is our duty to treat each other as such and uphold humanity to certain moral standards. Right now in the Gaza conflict both Israel and Hamas are committing crimes against those standards. Perhaps the biggest crimes of all are the restriction of belief and the systematic execution of those accused of espionage, not those proven of espionage.
18 Palestinians accused of collaborating with Israel were executed in a busy square outside of a mosque by militants wearing black masks on Friday. The August 22 Reuters’ article the information was divulged in proves that Hamas has not, as they have claimed to the media in previous years, abandoned their charter that was written in 1987.
Hamas has been accused of using human shields. As stated in a July 23 New York Times article, the definition of human shield merely means ordering civilians to stay in areas that are under attack. There is no clear evidence that civilians have been forced to stay during attacks as it has been mentioned, but it has been noted that Hamas has encouraged civilians to stay in their homes following Israeli warning of pending attacks. The Gaza militants also operate from civilian areas and draw return fire to civilian structures. From most statistics taken on the conflict civilian casualties have been far higher than the combatants.
Hamas is willing to sacrifice as many Palestinians as it takes in order to reclaim Palestine. Prior to the information revealed of these Palestinian executions it would be easy to argue that it’s Israel’s fault alone since it’s something that has not been proven explicitly as having happened. Now though it’s impossible to argue that this is not in fact still a terrorist organization.
The number of fatalities in Gaza change depending on whose information is being noted. According to an August 5 article in the New York Times, the Palestinian Ministry of Health claimed 1,865 fatalities since July 6, all of whom they claimed were martyrs. Out of the lot 429 were under age 18, 79 were over 60, and 243 were woman. The 1,114 others were men from the ages 19 to 59. They do not describe the victims as civilians or combatants however it’s quite possible that a large portion of the men from the ages 20 to 29 were in fact combatants.
The United Nations claimed 1,814 fatalities of which 72 percent were civilians. That percentage would come out to be around 1,300 civilian casualties. Two Gaza based groups, the Al Mezan Center for Human Rights and the Palestinian Center for Human Rights, described the conflict’s fatalities to be either 82 or 84 percent civilians. Israel claims that out of fatalities it took the lives of 900 terrorists. Throughout all statistics what is constant is that a large number of these fatalities are in fact civilians. It will remain unclear for some time to reach accurate number of civilian casualties seeing as how the number of Ezzedeen Al-Qassam Brigades members is something that’s kept secret and only known to leadership in the movement.
The Anti-Defamation League describes the Hamas military branch to be divided into three divisions; an intelligence arm that investigates Palestinians accused of collaboration, an arm that pursues violators of Islamic law and the Izzedine al-Qassam squads who are responsible for most of the organizations terror attacks. Hamas often awards humanitarian donations to families of their suicide bombers.
In an August 11 Bloomberg article it was noted that Arab countries surrounding Gaza have begun to show opposition to political Islam and therefore providing silent support to Israel in the conflict. King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia condemned such groups on August 1 who tried to “hijack Islam and present it to the world as a religion of extremism.” He also criticized the international community for watching silently while their Palestinian brothers’ blood have been shed in massacres.
King Abdullah hit on a key point. In the post 9/11 world Islam has been redefined by these extremist groups to mass populations when the truth of the religion itself is that it’s an altogether peaceful religion that’s beliefs are practiced through good works and prayer. In the Quran it even mentions Allah’s compassion and mercy 192 times compared to the 17 times which wrath is mentioned. The Quran even recognizes the validity of other religions which would mean Hamas contradicts its own beliefs within its anti-Semitic tones. Hamas is not extinguishing the burning world of Islam. They’re adding gasoline to the fire.
Hamas should not be the governing body of Gaza and if they continue to govern Gaza, the Palestinians on the strip deserve a more democratic nation. It should not be run by the mindset that breaking Islamic law is a punishable offense, it should be run under the conditions that what laws there are, are in place to maintain the safety of others. The Palestinians deserve the right to decide for themselves whether or not to deny Islam as their religion, if they believe otherwise. They deserve due process.