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Argument: Hamas caused blockade/conflict by adopting terrorism

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Ephraim Sneh. "Why Israel Is Bombing Gaza". Washington Post. January 1, 2009 - When demands are made of Israel to halt its military activities in Gaza, a brief historical reminder is in order.

In September 2005, Israel vacated Gaza, dismantled all the settlements in the Gaza Strip and did not leave a shred of a presence there.

In January 2006, rule over Gaza passed to the Hamas government under Ismail Haniyeh. Instead of bringing investors to Gaza, the Hamas government brought the guerrilla-warfare trainers of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard. Instead of launching economic projects, this government launched rockets every day at Israeli towns and villages across the border. They smuggled in vast amounts of explosives, weapons and rockets; they prepared themselves for battle.

In June 2007, in a brutal and bloody military coup, Hamas took control of Gaza and soon killed or chased out the leaders of President Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah movement. Gaza became nothing less than a military base for Iran.

Up until the Hamas takeover, 750 trucks would cross the border each day with imports and exports. As Israel's deputy defense minister at the time, I was in charge of this activity and promoted this trade with Gaza, since the border crossings were being controlled by Abbas's Presidential Guard, not by terrorists. The Hamas takeover is what in effect locked the gates of Gaza and forced its residents to suffer."

Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff - Hamas is a terrorist organization and Canada can't touch Hamas with a 10-foot pole. Hamas is to blame for organizing and instigating these rocket attacks and then for sheltering among civilian populations.[1]

David Harris, Executive Director for the American Jewish Committee. "Israel has shown surprising patience with Hamas". Freep. January 6, 2009 - Israel unilaterally evacuated Gaza in 2005, with the result that Gazans had their first opportunity in history to govern themselves. But Hamas played a wrecking role. Local elections in 2006 led to a coalition of Palestinian Authority and Hamas leaders, followed by a Hamas coup d'├ętat the following year. The Palestinian Authority was expelled from Gaza, seeking refuge in the West Bank, and the Hamas regime faced international isolation.

Hamas is defined as a terrorist group by both the United States and European Union. The international community set forth three basic conditions to engage Hamas: recognition of Israel's right to exist, an end to violence, and willingness to abide by previous Israeli-Palestinian agreements

To date, Hamas has not fulfilled any of the conditions. After all, its charter calls for the elimination of Israel, and, it should be added, spews hatred of Jews wherever they might live.

Since gaining control of Gaza, Hamas has focused not on building Palestinian society, but rather on seeking to destroy Israeli society. With substantial help from Iran and a smuggling network across the Egyptian border, Hamas has turned Gaza into an armed camp and munitions factory.

Israeli towns near the border have been targeted by thousands of rocket and mortar attacks. As the range of the rockets has grown, so, too, have the vulnerable Israeli population centers.

Israel's policy options have been limited. Negotiating with Hamas is impossible, unless Israel is prepared to discuss the terms of its own capitulation. Seeking a cease-fire or lull, as occurred earlier this year, buys some quiet, but at the price of Hamas using the break to enhance its weapons capabilities, train its fighters, and reinforce its command-and-control infrastructure, modeled on Hizballah's example in Lebanon.

Hamas has counted on its ability to attack Israel at will, while assuming Israeli restraint. The terrorist group calculated that Israel no longer had the will to fight and risk military casualties in teeming Gaza. It also assumed that Israel would be held back by fear of negative publicity, since Hamas has, in the past, skillfully exploited the media to focus on Palestinian civilian casualties, real or contrived, that inevitably lead to diplomatic and editorial condemnation.

This time, Hamas misread Israel. It opted to believe its own propaganda about an Israel fearful of a barrage of Hamas missiles aimed at the south and worried about an exit strategy once it entered Gaza.

To this point, Israel showed remarkable restraint, which Hamas misread as weakness. But Israel has an obligation to defend its borders and its citizens. It has the military and intelligence capability to do so. And, no less, despite upcoming elections, it has the collective political will.

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