Opinion: Israel – Our front line in the battle with terror, writes Keith Mills – TheLiberal.ie – Our News, Your Views

Opinion: Israel – Our front line in the battle with terror, writes Keith Mills


Last Saturday (July 19th) a protest march in Dublin against Israel’s military campaign in the Gaza strip attracted between three and five thousand people. It was one of several marches that took place around the country and in other cities Worldwide.  If we were to believe those that spoke at these demonstrations, we might be fooled into thinking that Israel’s actions were the worst thing that had happened to Palestinian Arabs for years and that somehow Israel was over-reacting to the ceaseless rocket fire that has been aimed at them for months, if indeed that even managed to mention those attacks.  These rockets and the chilling sirens that come with them have become a regular feature of Israeli life in the past month, but rarely get anything like the attention that Israel’s response attracts.

Every night we hear the latest casualty numbers with the death toll now sadly in the hundreds of Palestinians Arabs and an increasing number of members of the Israeli Defence Forces.  Unfortunately this simplistic headlining of the current conflict plays into the hands of those who like to portray Israel as heavy handed (or worse) when it comes to dealing with the Hamas terror campaign and fails to properly identify why the death toll is unbalanced.

While Israel has poured millions into developing a sophisticated missile defence system to intercept rockets before they reach population centres, Hamas which rules Gaza has put a much greater proportion of its money into building rockets and what has turned out to be a large tunnelling system to infiltrate Israel from below. It is now believed that over 70% of the cement imported into Gaza for schools, hospitals and homes in the last five years has been diverted into building these tunnels.

To compound the fact that the tunnels cannot be used to protect Gazan civilians, Hamas is launching rockets from build-up areas;  effectively using those people as defence shields against Israeli attempts to neutralise the rocket launch sites.  Forced with this regrettable scenario, Israeli is taking huge efforts to limit the civilian death toll.  Pamphlets are being dropped in potential target zones, warning phone calls made to house close to rocket launch site and even warning rockets in advance of removing the rocket sites. Rather than trying to help Gaza’s civilians, Hamas is instructing them to ignore the warnings and remain in place while they continue to fire rockets into Israel. In such circumstances is it any wonder that the civilian death toll is increasing? Yes there have been some very unfortunate civilian casualties but even with warnings and the most sophisticated weapons to remove military targets, accidents will happen, as we know from the “friendly fire” incidents that have impacted the Americans, British and others.

Day after day we see images of suffering from Gaza, images which are clearly aimed to evoke an emotional response, but we are seeing comparatively little reasoned analysis of the cause  of the conflict and what steps can be taken to find a solution that brings peace to the lives of civilians on both sides.  How much have we seen or heard from Tony Blair, the supposed Middle East peace envoy? The west’s support for the Egyptian coup which removed the democratically elected Muslim Brotherhood from power means that Hamas no longer sees Egypt as an honest broker for negotiations. The wider Arab world is facing a challenge from Isis and in many countries domestic issues mean that they have little or no real time for Palestinian Arabs. The EU is more concerned about the mess that it helped create in Ukraine and Obama’s foreign policy, such as it is, appears to consist of aspirational sound bites and nothing of substance.

What other choice does Israel have when allowing its citizens to be terrorised on a daily basis is intolerable?  To date, there have been three ceasefire attempts, all observed by the IDF and ignored by Hamas.  Hamas has refused to negotiate, as not only does it not recognise Israel, its primary aim is to wipe Israel off the map.  The Palestinian Authority wants to turn the clock back to the 1967 borders before it will engage and if there is one lesson that Israelis have learned from Gaza it is that they cannot trade land for peace.

It’s now almost ten years since Israel withdrew from Gaza. Before 1995, thousands of Israelis lived in over 20 Jewish settlements in Gaza.  Under a plan devised by Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, Israel shut down all the settlements and withdrew all its military personnel from the Gaza strip as an act of goodwill and an attempt to bring peace.  Large horticultural sites were left intact for the Arab population of Gaza to help their economy. However within two years, the hard-line terrorists of Hamas had displaced the more moderate Fatah group in a bloody civil war in Gaza and began its attacks on Israel. The horticultural sites were all destroyed and the economy collapsed making the people dependant on hand-outs from Hamas. Consequently it is now quite clear that any transfer of land from Israeli control will not bring long-term peace. With diplomatic efforts effectively on life support, Israel has no choice but to defend itself.

On a recent trip to Israel, I was asked on a couple of occasions as to why Ireland is so obviously anti-Israel and Pro-Palestinian. It would be easy to identify the examples of anti-Semitism that dot Irish history, and while I still believe that is a motivation for some, it is far from being the main cause. The left in Ireland can find little to agree on, but one thing that they do coalesce on is their dislike for America and by proxy, Israel. Sinn Fein especially has links with Palestinian groups, going back to the days when the I.R.A. and Palestinian terrorism was funded and supported by arms from Libya’s Colonel Ghadaffi. Those links have never been broken and last week we saw the disturbing sight of Sinn Fein TDs using Palestinian flags in the Dáil chamber and attempting to bully other members of our parliament into taking an openly partisan approach to the Middle East.  Not to be outdone we saw a People Before Profit councillor in Dun Laoghaire climbing up a flagpole to remove the Israeli flag celebrating a children’s regatta. Such obvious self-serving attention seeking can only promote the idea that Ireland has no empathy with people trying to overcome a terrorist threat to its very existence.

The one thing that exposes the left-wing anti-Israeli sentiment for what it is, is the hypocrisy and patent double standards.  In the past three years over a quarter of a million people have died in Syria and civilians have been slaughtered by the Assad regime, using tactics that included chemical warfare.  Where were the demonstrations against that? Where were the flags in the Dáil and emergency motions to protest against the Syrian regime? They didn’t exist, because the same people who supposedly care so much about civilians in Gaza, weren’t able to find a way to blame the USA or Israel. I could give similar examples in Egypt, Libya, Turkey and beyond where civilians were targeted, but the silence of the Irish left is deafening.

Three quarters of a century ago, Europe’s Jews looked to others to protect them. Europe was too slow to act and millions perished needlessly. Today the descendants of those that survived may no longer be dependent on others to protect them, but we should at least have the decency to support them as they work to remove the threat from Hamas.

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23 Comments on Opinion: Israel – Our front line in the battle with terror, writes Keith Mills

    • So how many more Israelis should die in order for you to approve retaliation? I suppose Israel should turn off the Iron Dome system and open the border so suicide bombers can make a come back and kill hundreds of Israelis again. Maybe then the conflict would be more proportional.

      • That anyone dies, on either side, is a tragedy. This will never be resolved until both sides come to their senses, sit down and talk and come to a settlement that all can live with. Alas, that seems a very remote possibility.

    • James- try making an intelligent comment such as explaining the hypocrisy so prevalent in Ireland. I am waiting.

  1. Enjoyed the article but don’t agree with parts. Long before hamas had control, the Palestinians suffered. Lets take dublin. A tribe from luster say, come down ask for refuge. They are welcomedwith open arms then a yr later they have build fenced just to protect their crops then a yr later the fences are walls and the dub tribe find themselves pinned in. Then the ulster tribe say btw to go through our land u need an id and we need to check it and while you are at it can you leave that land there cause we want to build a settlement on it. This is not anti Jew, it is anti occupation and anti embargos which where happening to Gaza and went bank.

    • The arguments you make are overly simplistic, imagine a Sligo man bought the field down the road from you saying he wanted to open an equestrian Centre but it turned out the Sligo Man had already sold it to a Carlow Man who built 500 apartments on it and later sold them on to the highest bidder. Would you ask the Carlow man what religion the purchasers were?

      • Simplistic so it can be understood. Who mentioned Religion? This is about freedom of movement, occupation, embargoes,starvation, right to life etc etc. The problem is, the sellers had no right to sale or give away the land as it wasn’t their land, it was the Palestinians. Some of us in Ireland remember history and the ‘To Hell or to Connaught’ ultimatium.

  2. Between 1929 & 1939 a quarter of a million Jews arrived in Palestine, most of whom were fleeing Germany. In the years following the end of the 2nd World War, illegal migration was the main form of Jewish entry into Palestine, another quarter of million mostly made up of Holocaust survivors.
    The State Of Israel as we know it in its current form was formed in 1948 and is not recognised by the Palestinians or indeed by many Arab countries as a legitimate entity, such is the crux of the issue as I understand it.

    It should also be noted that the origin of Israel is not of a people born and raised in the region but migrants of a religious faith. To carve out a piece of land as the British did and declare ‘this is where the Jews will live’ is understandably inflammatory. Around the same time The British Empire, itself in decline following the massive expenditure of resources following two European wars, divided India into two sovereign countries, creating Pakistan; instigating the migration of two million people across the newly created border, the single largest movement of people in history. These two acts instigated by the dying throes of an empire have given the world this legacy.

    As with all conflicts there has to perspective. Of the Israel/Palestine conflict it can be said “One man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter”, a sentiment which I’m sure resonates with many Irish people and may explain pro-Palestinian sentiments there.

    • Trans Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Yemen, Lebanon Syria, Iraq etc were also created at the same time as Israel was. Trans Jordan became a nation in 1947. Trans Jordan is has been occupied by Hashemites since 1922…where’s the angst? (no jews, not news)

      • I have no angst. I have no strong opinion one way or the other. I was attempting to shed some historic perspective, that is all.

    • You are partially correct in that many citizens of Israel were not born there, many however were; in 1942 you had a far better chance of survival being Jewish if you resided in Tehran or Cairo than being based in Berlin or Vilnius. In addition the Druze, Christian and Bedoin populations are generally staunch supporters of their country.

      We all need to back off condemning Israel in removing Hamas terrorist infrastructure but as friends of Israel we must continue to repeat that the right of defence is only part of a wider series of rights for all citizens of the region. Israel will I hope achieve its most vital objectives within days and as opposed to seeking to achieve secondary objectives show moral leadership and unilaterally withdraw from Gaza, yet again and implore Abbas to use the ceasefire to call elections in Gaza so that the illegitimate Hamas government whose mandate expired over 3 years ago are at the very least required to seek a renewed mandate condemning innocent Gazans another 4 years of draconian border controls on their only two land borders with Egypt and Israel.

      Peace talks are the only end game that will deliver rights to all.

  3. Thank you for a straight forward piece of common sense writing. such is the anti-Israeli,and in many cases straight out antisemite, atmosphere in Ireland today that it takes a brave man to write what you did. Well done.

    • Full Definition of SEMITE
      a : a member of any of a number of peoples of ancient southwestern Asia including the Akkadians, Phoenicians, Hebrews, and Arabs b : a descendant of these peoples
      : a member of a modern people speaking a Semitic language

  4. i find it deeply unlikely that the author has “a lifelong interest in politics and international affairs” when he’s so badly misinformed about this situation.

  5. “History is a set of lies agreed upon.” – Napoleon Bonaparte

    Thank god for social media.

    Mr Fried. I am one of those incorrigible Irish fools who delights in the act of introducing cats to pigeons and the article above is a virtual carbon copy of the conservative apologist tomes for the mass murder of civilians that has been peddled over the net these last few weeks. I have no respect for the author of the above article, he displays little or no empathy for the horror endured by the Palestinian civilians and prefers to litter his scribblings with trite hackneyed phrases and gross inaccuracies – at worst he offers no new insight or most importantly – no possible solutions.
    Israel exists…we all except that…they exist with the help of colossal U.S. aid to the tune of billions of dollars annually, much of which is spent on weaponry – the iron dome, phosporous bombs ( illegally used in civilian areas), shells using spent uranium, state of the killing hardware etc…etc…Hamas bought cement.. The current Israeli occupation is seen as a response to the 3 Israeli teens who were kidnapped & murdered. (NOT by Hamas but by a different faction) Prior to this, many..many Palestinian youths were murdered with impunity by settlers and the IDF on a weekly basis..Israel created Hamas. We know this because even a dog will not bite the hand that feeds and Israel have had countless opportunities to address the wrongs perpetuated in this region.
    As for a solution..to a fool like me it’s simple..Palestinians and Israelis must throw down their weapons and embrace to shed tears for their respective victims. Maybe they could put that American aid to better use..On a more practical note, the U.N. should be invited in with a peace keeping force and internationally monitored aid be given to the Gazans to rebuild their infrastructure. The Irish construction industry would be well placed to offer their unemployed members a role.
    Deputy Speaker of the Israeli Knesset and member of Prime Minister Benjamin
    Netanyahu’s ruling Likud Party, Moshe Feiglin, has called for the use of
    concentration camps for the “conquest of the entire Gaza Strip, and
    annihilation of all fighting forces and their supporters.”
    Sharing a plan for the destruction of Gaza in a letter addressed to
    Netanyahu on his Facebook page on August 1, Feiglin wrote “What is
    required now is that we internalize the fact that Oslo is finished, that
    this is our country – our country exclusively, including Gaza.”
    Feiglin’s comments come after one of his far-right Knesset colleagues
    Ayelet Shaked previously called for the mothers of Hamas members to be
    In his letter, Feiglin urged Netanyahu to “turn Gaza into Jaffa, a
    flourishing Israeli city with a minimum number of hostile civilians,” in
    reference to a Palestinian coastal city that was ethnically cleansed by
    in 1948 and incorporated into present-day Israel.

    He called for tent encampments where the Palestinian civilian
    population would be “concentrated” to be established along the Sinai
    border until relevant emigration destinations are determined, adding
    that the supply of electricity and water to the formerly populated areas
    will be disconnected while they are “shelled with maximum fire power”
    in order to destroy the civilian and military infrastructure of Hamas as
    well as its means of communication and of logistics.

    “Those who insist on staying, if they can be proven to have no
    affiliation with Hamas, will be required to publicly sign a declaration
    of loyalty to Israel, and receive a blue ID card similar to that of the
    Arabs of East Jerusalem,” he said.

    Feiglin, who in January blasted Netanyahu for allowing his son to
    date a non-Jew, or a ‘Gentile’, also caused uproar among Palestinians
    when he participated in a raid on the Al-Aqsa Mosque, Islam’s third
    holiest site, in East Jerusalem in March.

    The death toll since Israel began pounding the Gaza Strip on July 7
    has reached 1821, including at least 401 children, 238 women and 74
    elders, the Palestinian Health Ministry said.

    At least 64 Israeli soldiers have also been killed in battles with Palestinian fighters and three civilians in rocket attacks.

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