The recent air strikes between Israel and Hamas have galvanized on-campus organizations to rally in support of Israel.
Canes for Israel, Chabad UM and Hillel responded to the renewed attacks in Gaza and Southern Israel with an unplanned rally near the Green this past Friday.
With the Israeli flag hung from palm trees as a backdrop, students from these organizations handed out flyers with the statement “200 rockets,” to help raise awareness about the fierce conflict in the region.
Hamas, Gaza’s freely elected government, has claimed responsibility for the hundreds of rockets that have been launched into Southern Israel during the past year.
In the last few weeks Gaza’s attacks, however, have intensified, leading Israel to retaliate with its own air strikes, which killed one of Hamas’ military commanders this past Wednesday.
Jona Farache, a freshman who just finished serving with the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), believes that an Israeli response was inevitable.
“You know, it’s about time,” he said. “The problem is, this terrorist organization is specifically targeting civilians. You can’t justify that.”
Ira Sheskin, a professor who specializes in the geopolitics of the Middle East, agrees with Farache.
“The only reason Israel is attacking is because they’re being attacked,” he said.
As Israel’s air strikes continue to affect the Gaza Strip, there are preparations for a potential ground invasion.
The Israeli Ministry of Defense has already approved the mobilization of up to 75,000 reservists to the Gaza border with 16,000 of the total number of reservists having been drafted, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal.
Sheskin hopes that this will be a deterring factor for Gaza’s continued rocket fire.
“If Israel doesn’t do something, a fifth of their population will be living in constant fear,” he said. “If they do do something, they will doubtlessly kill hundreds of civilians.”
Coupled with the concern for civilian casualties, students like senior Fawaz Mahmeed are also worried about the role of the media during wartime. As an Arab, he said that the media is not simply pro-Israel, but anti-Palestine.
“They show us as these people who are trying to attack and kill children,” Mahmeed said. “They show Hamas killing Israelis. Hamas launched the rockets only because they have been struggling for a number of years.”
For Farache, there are no alternatives left, and the only viable option is force.
“It sounds primitive to say, but sometimes it seems you may need to show them who’s boss again because if you don’t, our citizens will continue to live in shelters underground for weeks and months,” he said. “That is not humane.”
Mahmeed offered a different point of view.
“What’s not humane is taking people’s land and putting them in small areas without the necessities to progress,” he said.
Sheskin ultimately feels that peace is possible, but a compromise has to be reached.
“I have no doubt that if the Palestinians stop shooting, there’d be peace,” he said. “If the Israelis put down their arms, there’d be no Israel.”
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