Opinion: You should be concerned about Hamas’ attacks on Israel

Over the last 8 days, Hamas terrorists have been constantly firing rockets at the state of Israel from the Gaza strip, targeting our civilian populations. They are not only deliberately targeting civilians; they are doing so intentionally from within their own civilian populations, using them as human shields, which constitutes a double war crime.

Hamas has situated terror infrastructures (launch bases, weapons arsenals, manufacturing sites, headquarters) in the heart of the civilian population, including multi-story buildings. Their own population has also been hit by Hamas’s own rockets. Of the rockets launched at Israel, over 500 have actually landed within the Gaza strip, causing death and destruction, including indications that nine Palestinian children have thus far been killed by Hamas rockets.

In Israel, 10 men, women and children have lost their lives, hundreds injured and countless impacted by the Hamas terror campaign, as sirens are sounding day and night, with millions of civilians across Israel having mere seconds to rush to shelter. The Iron Dome defense system, successfully developed and deployed thanks to the strong relations between Israel and the United States, is playing a crucial role in intercepting many of the incoming rockets, undoubtedly saving lives.

The self-proclaimed goal of the Iranian-backed Hamas terror organization is the destruction of the state of Israel. They make that no secret, just as they make no secret their outright call for the slaughter of Jews everywhere. Their current terror campaign is derived from this murderous vision.

Their terror attacks are not about the holy sites in Jerusalem, where Israel continues to maintain the status quo and ensure freedom of worship for all. They are not about the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood, in which several homes are in a longstanding legal property dispute being deliberated in the courts. They are about Hamas attempting to exploit the heightened religious and nationalist sentiments surrounding the holy days in Jerusalem, in order to encourage terrorism and violence. They are about Hamas attempting to seize control of the Palestinian agenda, in order to weaken and replace the Palestinian Authority.

In the face of these terror attacks, Israel is doing what any sovereign nation has the right and duty to do -- defend itself and protect its civilians. The Israeli Defense Forces are striking specific terror targets in Gaza that are directly connected to the rocket fire on Israel’s cities and civilians, while operating in adherence to the principles of international law. Israel goes to great lengths to prevent harm to uninvolved civilians, including providing advance warnings to civilians to evacuate from identified terror sites. Israel will continue to do all that it can to defend its citizens, Jews and Arabs alike, from these incessant terror attacks.

While Israel is under fire and acting to protect itself, we are receiving messages from around the world, including from the United States, supporting Israel’s right and duty to defend itself and condemning the Hamas terrorist attacks.

Why should you be concerned? Because there are sadly also those who hesitate to condemn Hamas, or worse yet, who justify it. To all those choosing not to take an unequivocal stand against Hamas’s terror, I urge you to not only take a close look at what this recognized terror organization is about regarding Israel and Jews, but to also take a broader look at what Hamas is about.

In the Gaza strip under Hamas rule, if you are not a Muslim heterosexual male, your civil rights vary between restricted to none. Those who hold dear the Palestinian people, should recognize that they deserve to live free from the oppression of a murderous terrorist regime, akin to ISIS or Al-Qaeda, one that throws political opponents off of rooftops, one whose LGBTQ community members seek refuge outside the Gaza strip for fear of being lynched for who they love, one that requires women to seek the permission of a male relative in order to be allowed to go where they choose. The list goes on, as internal oppression, discrimination and extremism abound.

Hamas’ strength in the face of the Palestinian Authority opposes Palestinian interests and harms Palestinian society, contradicts the international community’s interests, and certainly harms the state of Israel’s interests and security.

This past year has proven yet again that in our region, when there is a will, there is a way. The historic signing of the Abraham Accords and peace agreements between Israel and Arab and Muslim countries in our region are an example of committing together to a better future for all our peoples, for all our children. Peace is a choice to be made. Israel chose it from day one, as is stated clearly in our declaration of independence 73 years ago, stating that our hand is extended in peace to all our neighbors. Whenever there was a partner willing to make the same choice, peace became a reality. As Israel is under fire, it is sadly loud and clear that peace is yet a choice to be made by Palestinian leadership.

Anat Sultan-Dadon is consul general of Israel in Atlanta.