The View From Here | No Freedom Fighters Here


It’s been said that one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter, and there’s perhaps no better distillation of the moral equivalency that runs rampant on the world stage. But I’m in favor of calling things the way they are.

The Palestinians who disregarded the numerous warnings of the Israeli military and approached the Gaza border fence on March 30 to hurl stones at the soldiers stationed on the other side are not the “peaceful protesters” many in the world claim them to be. They’re not freedom fighters either.

Perhaps taking a page from the marches on this side of the world that have so successfully focused popular attention on such issues as women’s rights, sexual abuse and gun violence, Hamas last week launched a “March of the Return” in Gaza, amassing thousands of Palestinians to peacefully camp near the territory’s border with Israel. (The demonstrations are supposed to continue every day until May 14, the 70th anniversary of the English date of Israel’s founding.)

But in instigating scores of Palestinians to charge the fence with weapons and burning tires in hand, Hamas seems to have also taken a page from 2010’s Mavi Marmara incident, in which Israeli commandos boarded a civilian Turkish ship sent to break through the naval blockade of Gaza. The ship’s passengers were supposed to be peace activists, but when the commandos came aboard, they were attacked. In the ensuing response, nine activists were killed.

As with the Mavi Marmara, when Israel finally responded to the Palestinians who failed to heed the warnings — weapons in hand — 18 Palestinians wound up dead. But unlike the Mavi Marmara incident, which sparked rounds of international condemnation (a later investigation would conclude that the activists on the ship had actually opened fire on the Israelis), reaction to the Gaza deaths has comparatively been subdued.

Sure, there’s been the predictable headlines and analyses casting Israel as the perpetrator and the Palestinians as the victims. And in his Easter message, Pope Francis spoke of the region “experiencing in these days the wounds of ongoing conflict that do not spare the defenseless.”

But all in all, most people understand that the Palestinians who were goaded by Hamas to challenge the Israeli military were not “defenseless.” They were pawns cynically employed by a terrorist group to try to whip up public opinion against Israel and, as an added bonus, position itself as the true defender of Palestinians’ rights in opposition to the Palestinian Authority run by Mahmoud Abbas.

Even the Israel Policy Forum, which just days before had laid much of the blame for the lack of peace on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Donald Trump, was crystal clear on who was to blame for the Gaza deaths.

“It is clear … that violence was directed toward Israel by members of Hamas, as well as other factions, who were operating in the midst of civilians with the intention of provoking an Israeli response,” read an April 2 statement from the group. “While the utmost care must be taken not to harm civilians, Israel has the right and the responsibility to respond to hostilities directed at it from inside Gaza.”

Some commentators have observed that the Palestinians living in Gaza are helpless, consigned to a territory without basic necessities such as clean water and electricity. But make no mistake: Their problems are not the fault of Israel, which after its withdrawal from Gaza in 2005 encouraged foreign powers to provide financial aid to the Palestinians living there. Gaza’s problem lies with the Hamas-controlled government, which has directed foreign aid into buying weapons and preparing for another offensive war against Israel.

That 18 Palestinians had to die because of this reality is truly sad. But it’s what happens when terrorists are calling the shots. 

Joshua Runyan is the editor-in-chief of the Jewish Exponent. He can be reached at


  1. Thank you. I need to add something important. I was stationed in Gaza during the whole occupation to the very last day in 1956. Egypt created this hell hole and Ben-Gurion gave the order to leave because “Israel could not afford to include 250,000 Arabs educated to hate Jews.” So we left and Egypt returned to its land grab. To get peace later on, Begin returned the Sinai to Egypt but could not get himself to include an inch of the land of Israel in the deal to get peace. The Egyptian creation of a human wound on the land of the Jews is still infected with Islamic terror and the 250,000 Arabs are now maybe 2 million mostly supporting Islamic terror. Christians have either been forced to convert, slaughtered or found a way to escape this Islamic terror jungle.


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