Do you have questions about the Israel-Hamas war or have others asked you a question? After the horrific attacks on Israel Oct. 7 that left more than 1,400 people (mostly civilians) dead, social media has been filled with information.
Some of the information has come from Hamas or Palestinian groups which has proven to be false. Even so, media outlets have often picked up the “propaganda” and run with it, such as the explosion at the Gaza hospital which was initially blamed on Israel without proof by news outlets such as the New York Times, BBC, The Wall Street Journal, CNN and hundreds of others. The New York Times even used a photo of a different location, claiming it was the hospital.
Here are answers to common questions you may have or need help answering when others ask you in everyday conversations.
Question: What is Israel’s goal for the operation in Gaza?
Answer: Israel intends to eliminate Hamas’ military capabilities and end its ability to govern Gaza. Israel must ensure that Hamas can never again carry out atrocities against Israeli families.
More Information: This is an unprovoked war by Hamas on Israel. This isn’t a war of Israel’s choosing, but a war Hamas and Iran made necessary. This unprecedented attack requires an unprecedented response by Israel.
Question: Is now the time for a ceasefire?
Answer: Calling for a ceasefire now paints Israel as the aggressor and would allow Hamas to stay in power. Israel must be given the time and support it needs to destroy Hamas as a military force and remove it from power. There will never be peace while Hamas is in control of Gaza.
More Information: A ceasefire is, in effect, a maintenance of the status quo, allowing Hamas to continue to use Gaza as a launching pad for terrorism against Israel. Calling for a ceasefire now is to deny Israel’s right to defend its citizens from terrorism. Hamas is still launching rockets at Israel and holding over (as of Thursday 224) Israelis and foreign nationals hostage. Israel has every right to wage a defensive war against Hamas and continue its operation until Hamas is fully defeated.
Question: Are Israel’s actions in Gaza illegal?
Answer: Israel, like every nation, has the absolute right to self-defense. Israel is acting according to international law after the unprovoked attack by Hamas.
More Information: Israel is defending itself and undertaking military action to achieve specific, legitimate military aims. Israel exclusively targets Hamas and other terrorist groups while taking unparalleled steps to avoid civilian casualties. The terrorist organization violates international law by deliberately using its civilians as human shields.
Question: Is Israel indiscriminately bombing civilian infrastructure?
Answer: No. Israel is targeting terrorists and their weapons. Israel takes great care to prevent civilian casualties. This is a very difficult task in urban warfare where Hamas deliberately puts civilians in harm’s way, using Palestinians as human shields. Hamas hides its weapons, operation centers, and launching pads within populated areas in Gaza, turning civilian infrastructure into legitimate military targets. Israel attacks Hamas terrorists with precision and seeks to avoid injuring civilians.
More Information: Israel goes above and beyond to warn Gaza residents of pending attacks, evacuate civilians before striking Hamas targets, and publicize safe zones where civilians can get to safety. Hamas not only blocks civilians from evacuating, it also endangers Gazans by launching weapons near civilian infrastructure.
Question: Has Israel kept Palestinians in an “open-air prison” in Gaza for 18 years?
Answer: Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005 and has not controlled it since. In 2007, when Hamas seized power in Gaza from the Palestinian Authority, Egypt and Israel took steps to try to stop the flow of weapons and military supplies to Hamas. Israel has allowed food, water, electricity, building materials and other goods into Gaza and provided work permits for tens of thousands of Gazans to enter and work in Israel. Sadly, much of this material was used by Hamas to build its terror infrastructure.
More Information: Israel left the Gaza Strip entirely in 2005, turning it over to the Palestinian Authority which was subsequently overthrown by Hamas in a bloody coup. Just before Hamas’ massacre on October 7, 2023, 18,000 Gazans had work permits in Israel, and Israel was facilitating 400-500 trucks of supplies into Gaza each day.
Question: Did Israel destroy the Al Ahli hospital in Gaza?
Answer: No. According to intelligence from both the IDF and United States and analysis by independent experts plus live video taken by an Arab news outlet, an explosion occurred after a rocket launched by Palestinian Islamic Jihad misfired and landed in the vicinity of the hospital. While trying to kill Israeli civilians, this terrorist organization killed Palestinian civilians.
More information: The initial reports blaming an Israeli air strike targeting the hospital, including the number of casualties and the damage caused, came from the Hamas-controlled Palestinian Health Ministry in Gaza. Information coming from Hamas should be treated with the utmost skepticism. It is now clear that the explosion was not caused by Israel, and that both the number of casualties and extent of the damage was exaggerated by Hamas for propaganda purposes; a European intelligence official said it was “more likely between 10 and 50” killed, not the 500 originally claimed. In past conflicts, a significant number of terrorist rockets have fallen short and landed in Gaza, killing and injuring civilians. In addition, the explosion was in a parking lot where most of the damage was from fire – consistent with the fuel from a rocket igniting vehicles and their gas tanks. There was no crater and building damage other than from shrapnel. Palestinian authorities have disposed of the remains of the rocket and have refused Western media access.
Question: Is Israel illegally displacing Gaza residents?
Answer: Israel has asked Gaza residents to voluntarily move south to protect their own lives. This is both legal and moral.
More Information: Israel needs to dismantle Hamas infrastructure in northern Gaza and has asked residents to leave temporarily to avoid the fighting. International law specifically allows the involuntary temporary removal of persons to meet a military imperative and enhance the safety of civilians. Egypt has refused to open its crossing with Gaza to allow civilians to leave.
Question: Is Israel illegally imposing a siege on Gaza? Israel cannot deny food, water or electricity to Gaza.
Answer: No. The U.S. and Israel worked together to establish a safe zone in southern Gaza for civilians and a corridor to bring humanitarian aid, including food, water, and medical supplies, from Egypt into Gaza. In the past, Hamas has stolen and repurposed international aid for its terror purposes, including on October 16th when it stole fuel and medical equipment from UNRWA. Under international law, a military force is not required to supply its enemy.
More Information: Hamas destroyed the main border crossings through which humanitarian aid is delivered as well as electric lines supplying power to the Gaza Strip. Hamas has prepared for this war for months, stockpiling resources including food, fuel, water, medical supplies, and more. They’ve also dug up miles of water pipes, turning it into rockets that are launched at Israeli cities.
Hamas chooses not to share the resources with Gazans in need, using it for terror purposes instead. America must ensure aid is delivered to civilians and not stolen by Hamas.
Question: Is Israel employing white phosphorus munitions?
Answer: Israel categorically denied reports that it has used white phosphorus in its war against Hamas. Reuters reported a statement from the Israeli military, saying: “The current accusation made against the IDF regarding the use of white phosphorus in Gaza is unequivocally false.”
More Information: White phosphorus is deployed by militaries to mark targets or create smoke screens, though it can also cause severe burns and start fires. The United States military has previously used white phosphorus, including during the war in Iraq. The use of white phosphorus munitions is not banned under international law.
–Dwight Widaman | Metro Voice and the Israel American Public Affairs Committee. AIPAC is a non-partisan organization that works with Democrats and Republicans on matters concerning peace between Israel and Arab nations and the Palestinian Authority and Israel’s security.