On May 15, the Fort Worth Star Telegram published a cartoon in its opinion section that was highly divisive and obfuscates the reality on the ground in Israel.
Illustrated in the cartoon is a hulking IDF soldier and a Palestinian man bleeding on the ground. The IDF soldier states, “I had to defend myself. He had a rock.” Above his speech are the words ‘The Defense of Israel.’
The recent weeks, which have seen the U.S. Embassy move from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and the celebration of Israel’s 70th anniversary, have unfortunately been rife with violent protests organized by Hamas.
The protest, dubbed the “March of Return” saw upwards of 40,000 people on Israel’s borders. It was a provocative, terrorizing event, in which Hamas operatives attempted to infiltrate Israel, threw incendiary devices and rocks, and built hundreds of kites with tails soaked in gasoline to cause fires across the border.
Israel responded with force appropriate for a nation under attack. The majority of the population in Gaza are themselves victims of Hamas’ militaristic government which has been in sole control of Gaza since their 2007 takeover from the Palestinian Authority. Israel unilaterally withdrew all its citizens and troops from Gaza in 2005.
The loss of life is greatly tragic, however, the vast majority of those killed during last week’s incident were not involved in a peaceful protest and Israel has a responsibility to protect its citizens.
As of the writing of this op-ed, several communities along the border have been repeatedly hit by rockets smuggled into Gaza from Iran. While there were no casualties, it has been the highest rate of fire since the 2014 Gaza War. Israel has since responded with carefully-coordinated strikes to military targets, resulting in zero casualties on the Palestinian side.
Right now, both Israelis on the border and Palestinians living in Gaza are experiencing great hardship and fear. There is no telling how or when this current scrimmage will end, as the situation is clearly not as simple as the cartoon recently published tries to display. In fact, this editorial cartoon echoes the narrative painted by Hamas, in which Israel is indiscriminately killing peaceful protesters. This is simply not the case.
Recent rocket attacks from Gaza into Israeli preschool playgrounds demonstrate the terror which Israelis living on the border face every day.
Diane Kleinman, Howard Rosenthal and Bob Goldberg are members of The Jewish Federation of Fort Worth & Tarrant County. Rabbi Andrew Bloom is with Congregation Ahavath Sholom. Rabbi Brian Zimmerman is with Beth-El Congregation.