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The Palestinian Responsibility for Civilian Deaths in Gaza  
 
News Headlines
Jun 23, 2006 -- The Rabbinical Council of America joins the State of Israel and Jewish people all over the world in mourning the innocent lives that were lost on June 9th at the Gaza beachfront. At the same time, we deplore in the strongest of terms the rush to judgment and condemnations of Israel issued by many news outlets and governments.

The results of an Israeli army inquiry have, at the least, cast reasonable doubt concerning the origin of the explosives that took those lives. While the Israeli proposed timeline and explanation is not the only possible one, that explanation along with the track record of Palestinian attempts to misrepresent the actions of the Israel Defense Forces should have taught reporters and diplomats to adopt a more cautious attitude in reacting to events. After a UN investigation largely supported the Israeli version of events which Palestinians had branded “the Jenin Massacre,” determining that no such massacre occurred, one would have expected future claims of this sort to be met with skepticism. Condemning Israel without even waiting for the results of an inquiry is reckless and irresponsible.

But even one who believes that an errant Israeli shell caused these tragic deaths has no right to condemn Israel for its actions. Over the last few months, since the total Israeli evacuation of Gaza, Palestinian terrorists have launched hundreds of missiles towards the Israeli town of Sderot, imposing a reign of terror on the town. No country in the world would refrain from taking the most vigorous steps to end such attacks, and criticism of Israel for its measured acts of self-defense is the rankest hypocrisy.

The terrorists not only target Israeli civilians; they display utter indifference or worse to their own civilian population. They use their own children as human shields, stationing rocket launchers 400 meters from a public beach, and knowing full well that--no matter how careful Israeli forces are--they will be unable to prevent some civilian casualties in their attempts to stop the missiles. Anticipating the inevitable civilian casualties their actions brought about, these terrorists then raise a hue and cry, “demonstrating” to the world how brutal the Israeli “occupation” is.

It is time for Palestinian civilians to rise up and say to the savage terrorists: "You may not live among us! We will not allow you to continue to use our children as shields behind which to hide!"

It is time for the world to ask why the so-called Palestinian "freedom fighters" position missile launching sites only 400 meters from a public beach.

It is time for governments and news media to ask why those who target civilians and hide among children are given credence when they decry the very deaths they engineered.

Israel is entitled to defend herself. Israel is not culpable for civilian deaths it tries valiantly to avoid. When civilian deaths are part of the Palestinian strategy, the world must point the finger of blame at the responsible party. The Palestinians are daily jeopardizing the lives of their own children. They should not be allowed to blame Israel for their crime.

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