In Gaza, Hamas is the oppressor -- not Israel

I’m just back home in the U.S. from a visit to Israel, where for four straight Fridays the Hamas terrorist group that rules the Gaza Strip has organized protests at the border with Israel involving thousands of Palestinians. Some of the protesters have attacked Israel’s border security fence “with explosives, firebombs and other means,” The Associated Press reported.

“Huge plumes of smoke from burning tires (set afire by demonstrators) engulfed the border area,” the AP reported from the scene. “Some of the activists` threw stones toward the fence or flew kites with flaming rags dangling from their tails.”

In other words, what’s happening on the Gaza-Israel border is not a peaceful protest. While most protesters aren’t joining in the violence, some are violent and dangerous terrorists who want to tear down Israel’s security fence to make it easy to launch deadly attacks on the Jewish state.

Acting to defend their nation, Israeli forces have killed 34 Palestinian attackers along the border since the protests began March 30, despite the best efforts by the Israelis to use the minimal force required.

No nation on Earth would welcome terrorist murderers to cross its borders to take the lives of innocent civilians. And if terrorists assaulted any other border on the planet, the number of attackers killed would undoubtedly be much higher.

The protests are scheduled to end with a massive Palestinian march on the border May 15, the 70th anniversary (on the secular calendar) of Israel gaining independence from Britain.

You might think the United Nations and countries around the world would be condemning the violent protests – but you’d be wrong. Israel’s s actions to defend its border prompted the usual Israel-bashing at the U.N., in the media, and wherever left gathers to condemn the only democracy in the Middle East.

It’s tragic that violence is a daily fact of life in much of the Middle East, including Israel and the Palestinian territories.

When you speak to Israelis and Palestinians who aren’t involved in the politics of the region – as I did on my recent visit to Israel – one fact stands out: they all want peace. They’re weary of the costs of war and they’re sick of seeing their children fighting and dying in a never-ending battle that benefits no one.

An Israeli woman told me that Palestinian women taking part in nascent peace movements have had their lives and the lives of their families threatened if they continued to campaign for peace.

The average Gaza resident hardly desires to spend Friday afternoons burning tires and risking getting shot or killed. But as long as Hamas calls the shots, some are drawn to violence.

What the Palestinians and their supporters around the globe fail to acknowledge is that the true oppressor of Palestinians in Gaza is not Israel, which completely withdrew from the territory in 2005. The real oppressor of Palestinians is Hamas itself.

Hamas’ obstructionist policy of non-recognition of Israel – and its vow to destroy Israel as Jewish state – is not just empty rhetoric. The terrorist group regularly launches rocket attacks against Israeli civilians and spends millions of dollars building cross-border tunnels for terrorists to infiltrate Israel.

Hamas refuses to cooperate with the Palestinian Authority and has created a humanitarian nightmare for the innocent people trapped under its sway. Electricity is available only a few hours a day, tap water is undrinkable, unemployment stands at 50 percent, the Mediterranean shoreline is contaminated, and only humanitarian aid from Israel sustains the lives of Gaza residents.

But you would never glean any of that from the latest round of headlines condemning Israel for using “disproportionate” force against civilians. As if Israelis were obligated to let themselves be killed by terrorists to make sure as many of them died as Palestinians to achieve proportionality.

The reality is that the masses of Palestinians remaining a safe distance from the border are a cover for the armed terrorists seeking to crash through the fence each Friday and attack Israeli communities less than a mile from Gaza.

This explains Hamas’ resort to burning tires and flying kites with flaming tails – the thick black smoke is intended to offer cover to the infiltrators. Yet the quotes reporters gather from the protesters never offer the same rationale twice for the demonstrations, because in fact there is no rationale for them, other than Hamas seeking to save itself from irrelevancy.

In today’s Middle East, the game has changed. It’s no longer a battle between Israelis and Palestinians, fought at the negotiating table as well as through individual acts of violence against Israeli civilians.

Instead, the real story is how united former enemies – Israel, Saudi Arabia, the Gulf States, Jordan, and Egypt – have become in the face of existential threats from Iran and ISIS.

Many Palestinians have been all but abandoned by their “protectors,” no longer a pawn in the greater game of wiping Israel off the map.

And Arab nations have quietly drawn together with Israel to find ways to stop Iran and its proxies – the terrorist groups Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad and ISIS – from taking control of even more of the Middle East, now that Syria, Lebanon, and to a growing extent Iraq are under Iran’s sway.

As a result, Hamas is facing tough times. The terrorist group’s rejection of Israel no longer has relevance for leaders across the Middle East who now have Iran and ISIS to worry about.

So Hamas has seized on Land Day, a four decade-old Palestinian grievance against Israel, as the excuse for launching a series of raids on the Jewish state. These raids are masked by the mass demonstrations intended to culminate on Israel’s 70th anniversary, the day the U.S. Embassy moves to Jerusalem. But you would never know any of that from the left-wing, Israel-bashing media or the enemies of freedom at the United Nations.

The number of Gaza protesters actually declined from the first week to the second, for several reasons. First, the people of Gaza – whose lives have been broken by the Hamas leadership ostensibly “serving” them – have bigger fish to fry than the question of where exactly American visas will be processed in the Jewish state once the new embassy opens its doors.

And second, Gaza residents have to recognize that despite Hamas propaganda, their bleak situation can no longer be blamed on Israel, which is in fact the source of humanitarian shipments of food, water and medicine. To paraphrase Ronald Reagan, they’ve come to see that Hamas isn’t the solution to the problem; Hamas is the problem.

This Friday, Hamas will be sponsoring yet another protest at the border. Here’s hoping that Gazans will rise up – not against their so-called oppressors in Israel but against the real force that has relegated their lives to nightmare status. And that would be Hamas itself.