As a native of Maine, I was taken by Scott Hamann’s account of the Gaza aid flotilla debacle, “Maine video producer recounts raid on Gaza-bound aid flotilla” (BDN, June 7). Hamann, a South Portland video producer, describes his experience in harrowing terms, leaving his readers in little doubt that Israeli soldiers are no better than the Hamas terrorists who fire rockets at Israeli civilian communities.
Indeed if the Gaza aid flotilla succeeded in anything, it was in painting precisely this portrait of Israel’s army to the world. Soldiers become terrorists, and terrorists standing alongside humanitarians like Scott Hamann, magically transform into peace activists.
The Foundation for Human Rights and Humanitarian Relief, which sponsored the flotilla, is linked to al-Qaida according to the top anti-terrorist official of France. The foundation for human rights, which has offices in both Gaza and the West Bank, is also member of Saudi-based Union of Good, a coalition of Islamic foundations, led by Muslim Brotherhood leader Yusuf al-Qaradawi, who has issued fatwas calling for the killing of Americans and Jews. Israel outlawed the foundation because of its affiliation with the Union of Good and because it is an important factor in Hamas’ global fundraising.
U.S. State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley recently stated that the fact foundation representatives have met with Hamas officials was troubling to the U.S. However, the U.S. has not designated the foundation for human rights a terrorist organization as it has with Hamas.
Hamas, an offshoot of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, calls for the destruction of Israel in its charter and actively carries out its fundamentalist ideology.
Living on the Gaza border for almost two years, I experienced a reality that Hamann and other Western peace activists on the Gaza aid flotilla never had to deal with on their own home turf.
My first rocket attack will forever be seared in my memory. I was sitting in my office with the third coffee of the day, when all of the sudden a rocket siren sounded. I rushed to the bomb shelter with the other staff, knocking over the coffee as I scrambled to reach the shelter within 15 seconds of the expected rocket strike. I counted the seconds silently, and suddenly the whoosh of the Qasssam rocket shrieked overhead, striking the home behind our office. We ran outside to see what had happened. Before us stood a partially destroyed home, a shocked mother and a crying child. A Qassam rocket was lying inside their bathtub, with debris and shrapnel scattered everywhere.
That was my second day at work in Sderot. But it was a day no different from any day after that incident in August 2007. I will never be able to forget the frightened faces of those mothers, fathers, children and elderly — nor the blood, the shock, and destruction coloring almost every scene of those dreaded rocket attack.
The Israeli naval blockade, carried co-jointly with Egypt, and Operation Cast Lead of last year, were implemented to stop these rocket attacks and the growing military strength of Hamas thanks to Iranian financial and military support. Hamas is responsible for almost 40 percent of suicide bombings on Israeli civilians and 10,000 rocket attacks on Israeli communities and cities. Under the Hamas regime, rockets are now able to threaten 1 million Israelis.
The naval blockade is used as a means to deter the enemy from acquiring weapons to attack and has been employed by many other countries facing military threats in the past. The U.S. naval blockade of Cuba in the 1962 successfully prevented Russia from transferring missiles into Cuba, and was implemented even though Cuba never once attacked U.S. soil.
It seems that Sderot has been forgotten, while Israel’s security is something to be scoffed at. Israeli soldiers are demonized into Jack the Ripper, and Hamas and the Foundation for Human Rights and Humanitarian Relief have been embraced by much of the world as humanitarian organizations. The lines have been blurred, the definitions and terms are skewed to fit a certain narrative even if it means compromising the truth.
If you believe the narrative set forth by Hamas, Iran and Turkey, as related by innocent bystanders like Scott Hamann, Israel is a totalitarian regime, committing acts of terror.
Visiting Sderot today, and passing the thousands of newly built bomb shelters, I realized that the next round of rocket attacks will happen much sooner if the Gaza port and water routes are reopened. Ships will be used to smuggle in rockets, weapons and arms from Iran and now Turkey, as they were before the marine blockade. A calculating and patient Hamas government has gained the media momentum as the world extends its heartfelt support to a terrorist regime, thanks to Turkey’s red flag of provocation.
Anav Silverman, a graduate of Calais High School, is an instructor at Hebrew University’s Secondary School of Education. She also works as an international correspondent at Sderot Media Center.