The United Nations Security Council, at the request of Saudi Arabia’s delegation, convened on Jan. 22 to discuss Israel’s restrictions on imports into Gaza. At the meeting, UN Permanent Observer of Palestine recommended that the Council take steps to compel Israel to “immediately cease all illegal acts of aggression and terror against the Palestinian people,” a transcript of the meeting reported. But did he ever plan to take a more realistic look at the situation?

The briefing presented to the delegates reported that, since June 2007, more than 1,700 rockets have been fired into Israel from Gaza. Between Jan. 15 and Jan. 22, there were more than 150 rocket, mortar and sniper attacks. More than 100,000 Israelis live in range of the rockets. Announcements of Tzeva Adom, Hebrew for “color red,” which give 10-20 seconds to seek shelter and blare every three hours, are a part of life in southern Israel. Maybe that information could compel the Council to be more realistic. It did not.

While there were many comments from the other diplomats condemning Israel’s actions, far too few denounced the government in Gaza for doing nothing to stop the rockets, mortars and gunfire into Israel, let alone for participating in those attacks. Some of the delegates failed to even acknowledge that Israel had been subjected to regular attacks from Gaza for months. How much will it take to offend people?

Last week, a sniper from Gaza killed a farmer who was picking potatoes on a kibbutz. Hamas, which the United States, European Union and Japan logically consider a terrorist group, has claimed responsibility for killing the farmer and for firing rockets and mortars into Israel. There is no way to justify killing the farmer. He posed a threat to no one. If those illegal acts of aggression do not merit debate in the UN Security Council, what does?

Such violence is typical for Hamas, a group whose vast and disturbing amount of experience at killing and terrorizing deserves recognition. During the past 15 years, Hamas has launched hundreds of attacks that have killed more than 500, according to a report by the Council on Foreign Relations. Hamas’s stated goals include destroying the State of Israel.

In addition to being a terrorist group, Hamas is also the ruling party in Gaza. In the Palestinian Authority elections in January 2006, Hamas won 77 of 118 seats in the legislature. In May and June 2007, Hamas gunmen fought and succeeded in wresting control of Gaza from Fatah, the party of Mahmoud Abbas, who is the head of the Palestinian Authority. During that power struggle, Hamas plunged Gaza into a civil war that left more than 150 dead and even more wounded (including civilians) and proved that Hamas cares neither about Palestinian nor Israeli lives.

Last week, Hamas demonstrated its propensity for violence again by blowing up parts of the Egypt-Gaza border wall to allow Gazans to buy provisions and consumer goods. Some, however, used those two weeks to purchase and transport weapons. The New York Times reported that Egyptian police have arrested more than a dozen people with weapons or explosives near the border.

On Saturday, Egyptian police captured two men with a bomb who were trying to cross the border from Gaza to Sinai, the Associated Press reported. How many people would have died as a direct result of Hamas’s decision to blow up the border wall if the Egpytian police had no been vigilant? Would it have just been dismissed, as most of Hamas’s attacks are?

On Monday, two suicide bombers attacked a shopping mall in southern Israel, the first suicide bombing in more than a year. One blew himself up, killing a woman and injuring 11. The other bomber was severely injured in the first blast and received treatment from medics until someone noticed his explosive belt. A police officer shot him as he reached for the detonator. This attack followed a well-documented, unapologetic and deplorable trend that does not seem to bother many people: Hamas claimed responsibility for the attack and got away with murder.

Why do we allow Hamas to avoid any accountability for its barbaric actions and for the actions of the terrorist groups it allows to operate within its borders? Hamas, as the de facto government in Gaza, has admitted to perpetrating acts of terrorism, applauds other terrorist groups and compensates the families of suicide bombers. Such a group belongs as far from government as possible.

I implore all who want peace in Israel and Palestine to consider Hamas’s actions and denounce them. Focusing primarily on Israel’s actions, as the Security Council chose, will not solve a problem that involves many other parties. The violence in Israel and Palestine will only end when no side has to fear terrorist or defensive or retaliatory acts from another.

Fleming is a member of the class of 2010.



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