To the editor:
In the letter, headlined “The context behind the rockets from Gaza” (Times, Thursday, Nov. 29), Ms. Philip describes the hardship imposed on the people of Gaza by the Israeli blockade.
There is an English saying: “Half-truth is worse than a lie.” Ms. Philip’s letter serves as an example of a dangerous and counterproductive one at that.
Let me put the record straight.
In 2005, Israel evacuated all Jewish settlers and military personnel and left Gaza for good, making the strip Judenfrai. But greenhouses equipped with computerized climate and water control systems were left intact for Gazans to use. Peace-loving American Jews persuaded Israelis not to dismantle the very expensive installations.
In celebration of freedom, Gazans completely destroyed modern agricultural property worth millions of dollars. Within six months of Israel’s withdrawal, Hamas won Palestinian parliamentary elections and after a short civil war seized control of Gaza from Fatah. Celebration of freedom continued with an increasing barrage of rockets into Israel.
Since Israel’s withdrawal from the Gaza Strip in 2005, terrorists have fired more than 8,000 rockets into Israel resulting in 45 Israelis killed and 1,687 injured. More than 1 million Israelis are living under threat of rocket attacks of ever-increasing range. (http://www.idfblog.com/facts-figures/rocket-attacks-toward-israel/).
Gaza is home not only to Hamas, which is recognized as a terrorist organization by the U.S. government, but also to Islamic Jihad and Ansar al-Sunna, an al-Qaeda affiliate.
The primitive Quassams (range 17 km) are manufactured in Gaza, but the long range Grad (20 km) and Fajer5 (75 km) which are able to reach Tel-Aviv and Jerusalem, are smuggled to Gaza from the Sinai via underground tunnels and from the sea by ships. That’s the reason for the blockade.
The attempt by Turkey’s ship Mavi Marmara to breach the Israeli blockade ended in nine enthusiasts dead and several Israeli soldiers wounded. Turkey appealed to the United Nations. The report of the Secretary-General’s Panel of Inquiry states:
“The fundamental principle of the freedom of navigation on the high seas is subject to only certain limited exceptions under international law. Israel faces a real threat to its security from militant groups in Gaza. The naval blockade was imposed as a legitimate security measure in order to prevent weapons from entering Gaza by sea and its implementation complied with the requirements of international law.”
I hope Ms. Philip wrote her letter being guided by a real concern and compassion for people of Gaza. However, by depicting the situation without any background, the letter leads readers to conclude: “Those damn Jews, see what they are doing to innocent people!”
From this sentiment, it is a very short distance not only to the condemnation of Israel but to anti-Semitism in general which, unfortunately, still exists.
Norwood Heights, Gloucester