Since then,several cease-fire deals fell through,but a 72-hour cease-fire that started Tuesday morning was holding.
Upset by the earlier ongoing violence,Oren Marmorstein,the counselor for public and academic affairs at the Embassy of Israel here said the ground invasion of Gaza was crucial.
The Embassy of Israel is run by Ambassador Ron Dermer,who was formerly a columnist for the Jerusalem Post. Marmorstein educates schools and the public about the Embassy of Israel and the conflict in the Middle East. He said he works with and connects students and faculty in Israel and the United States.
Before his posting in Washington,Marmorstein was a diplomat in Cairo. He practiced law before joining the foreign service.
Aside from multiple cease-fires,Marmorstein said Hamas,which Israel sees as a terrorist organization,has been using civilians as “human shields.” The invasion was meant to put the kibosh on civilian deaths.
“If you allow terrorists to use civilians as human shields just to gain political achievements,then you would be playing to the hands of terrorists,” he said. “If you allow a terrorist organization to use civilians,you would encourage terrorists all over the world to do the same.”
Since the increased rocket and mortar fire began just over a month ago,media outlets have reported thousands of Palestinian injuries and deaths,but Marmorstein said Israel is not the sole perpetrator – Hamas is also to blame.
“Hamas is trying to get more casualties as a strategy to create pressure and make people sympathetic towards their cause,and in order to do so,they are sacrificing civilians,” he said. “Hamas is not protecting citizens,it’s protecting the militants.”
In a previous interview Ambassador Maen Rashid Areikat,chief representative of the General Delegation of the Palestinian Liberation Organization,said a cease-fire must be made through “political means,” rather than violence. Before Hamas would accept a cease-fire,it would want to address the continued Israeli siege of the Gaza Strip.
But Marmorstein said Israel has tried to solve the conflict through political means,but “it hasn’t worked,so now we’re trying to solve it through military operations.”
Marmorstein was confident in the military operation,saying it’s been “working” because as of the previous week soldiers had dismantled 31 tunnels,which members of Hamas have built to store and fire weapons.
One issue plaguing people in Gaza is the limited number of bomb shelters and places to go for safety,so Marmorstein said Israel opened a field hospital just outside of Gaza that treats “only wounded Palestinians,” but the turnout was low.
“It’s a great idea,but Hamas told people not to go to this hospital,” he said,adding that the field hospital has Israeli doctors,and was not organized with the United Nations or other international communities.
The U.N. is also trying to help homeless and displaced Gazans by turning some schools that were closed for the summer into shelters,but after a recent bombing of a school,Israel said militant groups were hiding weapons inside the building.
After the shelling of the Jabaliya refugee camp,a U.N. school,where more than a dozen people died,Christopher Gunness,spokesman for the U.N. Relief and Works Agency,said in an interview from Palestine,the U.N. was unprepared for the attack by Israel.
“We did regular inspections,and when we found weapons,we cleared people out,we notified all the parties,we issued a strong public condemnation that it’s a flagrant violation and that militant groups shouldn’t be doing this,” he said.
Gunness said there were no militants in the school,but the U.N. did discover weapons. He added that 3,300 people were sheltering in the school.
In a July 22 press release,before the shelling at Jabaliya,the UNRWA condemned the shelling of schools in Gaza that shelter civilians,saying the agency is “forced to expand massively its emergency operations as more than 118,000 internally displaced people have taken refuge in 77 of the Agency’s schools throughout the Gaza Strip.”
Reach reporter Xander Zellner at [email protected] or 202-326-9867. SHFWire stories are free to any news organization that gives the reporter a byline and credits the SHFWire.